gene wolfe's book of the NEWSUN!!!!! reading club

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i'm reading chapter one of shadow of the torturer starting now

the late great, Thursday, 17 May 2012 06:00 (six years ago) Permalink

i could get behind this, if i can find it for kindle

pet tommy & the barkhaters (darraghmac), Thursday, 17 May 2012 08:20 (six years ago) Permalink

i'm not ready to read them yet. this year though. definitely.

scott seward, Thursday, 17 May 2012 12:49 (six years ago) Permalink

i'd do them over the summer, but i'm not sure i'll get past the first one

remy bean, Thursday, 17 May 2012 13:01 (six years ago) Permalink

i mean the gimmick with them is that they are just a meandering, unreliable narrator a la casanova, right?

remy bean, Thursday, 17 May 2012 13:04 (six years ago) Permalink

I can't find these, actually. I picked up a short story collection.

poxen, Thursday, 17 May 2012 13:12 (six years ago) Permalink

remy - nope!

the late great, Thursday, 17 May 2012 15:22 (six years ago) Permalink

read the first one, kinda stalled on the 2nd one now and taking a break to read a robert b parker novel.
i will be happy to discuss this with you cuz it is... intersting. i think i like it. but somehow i go stalled on the 2nd cuz i felt it was becoming too generic? idk.

one dis leads to another (ian), Thursday, 17 May 2012 15:26 (six years ago) Permalink

I'm in for summer, either way

remy bean, Thursday, 17 May 2012 15:27 (six years ago) Permalink

transient random-noise bursts. . . was in heavy rotation when i first read this and is now forever associated with it in my mind

mookieproof, Thursday, 17 May 2012 23:42 (six years ago) Permalink

awesome books, I can't commit to a re-read but I'm looking forward to this thread

los blue jeans, Friday, 18 May 2012 00:01 (six years ago) Permalink

i was going to read 'island of doctor death' and then go to this but island of dr death is triggering both the literary-prose and genre-fiction versions of my 'i just can't be bothered' button, and as such has been parked next to the toilet for something like a week

thomp, Friday, 18 May 2012 09:57 (six years ago) Permalink

i just noticed this is on the noise board, i forget the noise board exists

thomp, Friday, 18 May 2012 09:57 (six years ago) Permalink

pardon my cornell notes

"a thousand ages in they sight / are like an evening gone / short as the watch that ends the night / before the rising-sun" <- is this about god? is it about severian and his photographic memory, ruminating on mortality even though his life seems like a thousand ages to him? is it about the experience of reading this book? is it about the resurrection of the righteous? is it about the long decline of man before the destruction of earth?

it is a paraphrase of psalm 90, which in the king james version goes (SPOILER ALERT RE: URTH OF THE NEW SUN)

" For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night. Thou carriest them away as with a flood; they are as a sleep: in the morning they are like grass which groweth up."

"resurrection and death" <- why inverted? especially when the first chapter skips the resurrection entirely and begins in the "and" section. is it normal to go swimming on foggy nights? damn, these kids must have had some crazy goosebumps.

why does severian imagine cutting

the late great, Friday, 18 May 2012 17:34 (six years ago) Permalink

haha actually SPOILER ART RE: corridors of time!!!

the late great, Friday, 18 May 2012 17:35 (six years ago) Permalink

er SPOILER ALERT

the late great, Friday, 18 May 2012 17:35 (six years ago) Permalink

whoops that got "cut off" if you will

why does severian imagine cutting off vodalus' head? does he secretly hate vodalus? is he afraid of one day having to betray vodalus?

the late great, Friday, 18 May 2012 17:36 (six years ago) Permalink

http://butdoesitfloat.com/This-was-the-first-time-that-he-had-ever-looked-into-the-labyrinth-of

^^ this is what i imagine nessus looking like

the late great, Saturday, 19 May 2012 21:45 (six years ago) Permalink

wow awesome thread! i am almost done with the last book, so very timely for me. these books are amazing.

bene_gesserit, Saturday, 19 May 2012 23:50 (six years ago) Permalink

I am gonna reread along with this thread.

mick signals, Sunday, 20 May 2012 00:54 (six years ago) Permalink

actually i guess the resurrection might refer to the grave robbery

the late great, Sunday, 20 May 2012 00:58 (six years ago) Permalink

book one just arrived to my kindle.

pet tommy & the barkhaters (darraghmac), Sunday, 20 May 2012 01:45 (six years ago) Permalink

or his exile is the resurrection? but that doesn't make sense, resurrection's not like exile.

the late great, Sunday, 20 May 2012 04:55 (six years ago) Permalink

xpost with the scifi fantasy thread - here's wayne barlowe's illustration of an alzabo. i pictured them looking far more canine for some reason, but i love this illustration.
http://lcart1.narod.ru/image/fantasy/wayne_barlowe/gtf/Wayne_Barlowe_Alzabo.jpg
i have a lot i want to talk about but you are all just getting started and i don't want to spoil anything! so i'll wait til you're done to join the discussion.

bene_gesserit, Sunday, 20 May 2012 22:49 (six years ago) Permalink

lol i have read this twice and remember remarkably little of it

mookieproof, Sunday, 20 May 2012 22:53 (six years ago) Permalink

That thing looks like a fanged rhino crossed with Dumb Donald.

Ian Hunter Is Learning the Game (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 21 May 2012 00:01 (six years ago) Permalink

I always pictured a large hyena. Are those its eyes in its jowls?

mick signals, Monday, 21 May 2012 02:29 (six years ago) Permalink

transient random-noise bursts. . . was in heavy rotation when i first read this and is now forever associated with it in my mind

― mookieproof, Thursday, May 17, 2012 7:42 PM (4 days ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

might do this and this

A Little Princess btw (s1ocki), Monday, 21 May 2012 15:06 (six years ago) Permalink

picked this up again as i wanted to take a break from the country music bio i was reading. and

SPOILER

the part where they 34t th34cla and he somehow gets her memories is the kind of stuff i like about this series.

one dis leads to another (ian), Wednesday, 23 May 2012 00:16 (six years ago) Permalink

finished chapters 2 and 3, not sure what to say about them quite yet ... thinking

the late great, Wednesday, 23 May 2012 15:52 (six years ago) Permalink

findin this v hard to get into

pet tommy & the barkhaters (darraghmac), Wednesday, 23 May 2012 16:15 (six years ago) Permalink

why?

the late great, Wednesday, 23 May 2012 17:14 (six years ago) Permalink

keep fallin asleep after every paragraph, tbh. it's dense.

pet tommy & the barkhaters (darraghmac), Thursday, 24 May 2012 00:55 (six years ago) Permalink

it is dense. i suggest reading aloud in a foppish voice.

the late great, Thursday, 24 May 2012 03:49 (six years ago) Permalink

^^^ lol.

i find it a bit of a hard read too, because the action moves a lot slower than a lot of what i have been reading lately, and i also fall asleep reading it. but.. i am keeping on. it's a strangely episodic book and i think some of the episodes are more engaging than others tbh.

one dis leads to another (ian), Thursday, 24 May 2012 15:29 (six years ago) Permalink

If you can find the audio version, read by Roy Avers for the National Library Service for the Blind, it's a nice version.

Spent the last 5 minutes looking for an old photo I remember, of Roy Avers in his big glasses, but can't find it.

mick signals, Thursday, 24 May 2012 16:50 (six years ago) Permalink

read that as Roy Ayers and got excited.

scott seward, Thursday, 24 May 2012 23:57 (six years ago) Permalink

you should read this book and get excited

the late great, Thursday, 24 May 2012 23:58 (six years ago) Permalink

i'm gonna. but not now. i have all three in hardcover.

scott seward, Friday, 25 May 2012 00:18 (six years ago) Permalink

i am on chapter 3 now

remy bean, Friday, 25 May 2012 01:01 (six years ago) Permalink

Everybody Loves the New Sunshine

mick signals, Friday, 25 May 2012 01:22 (six years ago) Permalink

lolllllll

puff puff post (uh oh I'm having a fantasy), Friday, 25 May 2012 01:39 (six years ago) Permalink

the one thing I completely remember skipping when I read this a long time ago was that lengthy play at the end

puff puff post (uh oh I'm having a fantasy), Friday, 25 May 2012 01:39 (six years ago) Permalink

ah you missed the whole point of the series then

the late great, Friday, 25 May 2012 06:03 (six years ago) Permalink

i'm glad i'm learning more about jonas.
it seemed like between the end of book 1 and the beginning of book 2 he became severian's best buddy without much explanation. i guess there is a lot that goes unexplained in these books tho.

one dis leads to another (ian), Friday, 25 May 2012 15:32 (six years ago) Permalink

there is a gap of a few weeks or even a couple months between shadow and claw i think

the late great, Friday, 25 May 2012 15:39 (six years ago) Permalink

i do think severian does explain why he likes jonas so much

the late great, Friday, 25 May 2012 15:41 (six years ago) Permalink

guys i am reading gene wolfe's wiki and:

After returning to the United States he earned a degree from the University of Houston and became an industrial engineer. He edited the journal Plant Engineering for many years before retiring to write full-time, but his most famous professional engineering achievement is a contribution to the machine used to make Pringles potato chips.[5]

HOLY SHIT!!

bene_gesserit, Monday, 28 May 2012 04:28 (six years ago) Permalink

one thing I'm appreciating a lot this time around - which maybe didn't register with my first reading over a decade ago - is the way Wolfe incorporates and refracts various myths and archetypes into these strange new shapes. I lol'd when I spotted the Marlowe/Faustus quote in the brown book Severian carries. Wolfe seems way more interested in littering his narrative with this kind of thing than in filling a more standard fantasy framework (a nobody goes on a quest, meets companions, gains a magic weapon, faces a nemesis, learns true nature of self etc. - although obviously all of that is present as well!) There's a very meta/postmodern sensibility at work that's constantly highlighting that this story is literally made up of lots of other, older stories, and yet they often appear strange and unfamiliar because of the way they are presented or because of slight revisions.

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 28 August 2018 17:59 (five months ago) Permalink

wait - there's a marlowe quote?!?

the late great, Tuesday, 28 August 2018 18:16 (five months ago) Permalink

I forget where this happens exactly, maybe after he talks to the undine?

Some fragments Severian sees while the wind is turning the pages to dry them: "soulless warrior!" ... "lucid yellow" ... "by noyade" ... "These times are the ancient times, when the world is ancient." ... "Hell has no limits, nor is circumscribed; for where we are is Hell, and where Hell is, there we must be." (Note: The last fragment is from Dr. Faustus by Christopher Marlowe. Noyade is a mode of execution by drowning.)

Οὖτις, Wednesday, 29 August 2018 03:39 (five months ago) Permalink

interesting!

the late great, Wednesday, 29 August 2018 04:00 (five months ago) Permalink

Apparently Dr. Talos quotes Faustus at one point as well but I’m not sure where that is

Οὖτις, Wednesday, 29 August 2018 14:13 (five months ago) Permalink

that i recall

the late great, Wednesday, 29 August 2018 14:18 (five months ago) Permalink

Dicking around with Google books instead of working - "soulless warrior!" looks like it's either from Lucy Larcom's poem Orion or Star Names: Their Lore and Meaning by Richard Hinckley Allen, where the poem is used as an epigraph. Maybe the latter, because "lucid yellow" turns up in William Henry Smyth's Sidereal Chromatics, on star colours. The "ancient times" one is Francis Bacon.

woof, Wednesday, 29 August 2018 14:46 (five months ago) Permalink

almost to the end, and a couple things sticking in my head a bit

- Malrubius + Triskele are the products of an AI, right? It's kind of implied (esp if one takes a literal interpretation of the "deus ex machina" ref)
- Agia's character (and maybe this gets cleared up towards the end) really doesn't make a whole lot of sense. She's this shopkeeper who initially is enamored of Severian's sword and concocts an elaborate scheme to obtain it, but then it turns out she has this essentially super-powered suitor that can summon extradimensional beings and crazy weapons (so what would she want a big sword for)? And she hounds Severian with them, apparently out of rage-revenge, but instead repeatedly rescues him rather than tortures/kills him? And was also totally unaware of the significance of Vodalus and the Autarch (her murder of Vodalus is referenced but not depicted/described)? You add all those things up they don't form much of a consistent character.

Οὖτις, Friday, 31 August 2018 16:44 (five months ago) Permalink

Malrubius + Triskele are the products of an AI, right

no, not really. aquastors are much higher-tech than that, to the point that they're basically just magic ghosts reincarnated by the hierogrammate. it's explained a bit more in book 5, but the answer is really just magic.

from paracelsus - AQUASTOR. - A being created by the power of the imagination - i.e., by a concentration of thought upon the A'kasa by which an ethereal form may be created (Elementals, Succubi and Incubi, Vampires, &c.). Such imaginary but nevertheless real forms may obtain life from the person by whose imagination they are created, and under certain circumstances they may even become visible and tangible.

so yr not a million miles off but it's the concentrated thought power of the hierogrammate that reincarnates them, not the concentrated thought of an AI (book 5 goes into hierogrammates in a bit more detail, they are portrayed mostly in vague terms but they possess near-limitless power from our POV, though not from theirs)

the late great, Friday, 31 August 2018 19:05 (five months ago) Permalink

it turns out she has this essentially super-powered suitor that can summon extradimensional beings and crazy weapons (so what would she want a big sword for)

agia seeks power and doesn't enjoy being beholden to hethor. in fact she really doesn't like hethor at all, because he is a creep.

i think agia represents self-interest, in contrast to severian's sense of duty

the late great, Friday, 31 August 2018 19:12 (five months ago) Permalink

oh hi, I have read the first two and am gonna get the rest soon, reading the 2-in-1 books that I assume are standard now.

will check back in later

sleeve, Friday, 31 August 2018 19:55 (five months ago) Permalink

so yr not a million miles off but it's the concentrated thought power of the hierogrammate that reincarnates them, not the concentrated thought of an AI (book 5 goes into hierogrammates in a bit more detail, they are portrayed mostly in vague terms but they possess near-limitless power from our POV, though not from theirs)

this seems like an intentionally obscure way of Gene Wolfe saying "this is me, messing about with the plot". I'm sure there's some literary term for when authors essentially insert themselves into their own work as semi-omnipotent figures, which kind of sounds like what's going on here

Οὖτις, Friday, 31 August 2018 22:53 (five months ago) Permalink

hierogrammate literally defined as "A sacred scribe; specifically, a writer of hieroglyphics", and akasha as space/sky (I remember that much from hindu mythology) + the "deus ex machina" refs... all seems to be Wolfe getting a little cutesy with the po-mo literary devices

Οὖτις, Friday, 31 August 2018 22:55 (five months ago) Permalink

i lent out my copy of the first two, but maybe when i get a break from this mystery bender i'll do a re-read of the second half. I love this shit.

ian, Friday, 31 August 2018 23:37 (five months ago) Permalink

yr definitely on to something shakey, esp considering that the first time we see a hierogrammate it appears when the autarxh opens a book whose pages are made of magic mirror

the late great, Saturday, 1 September 2018 00:29 (five months ago) Permalink

Ok just finished. So...

Father Inire is the green man, and Dorcas is Severian’s grandmother...?

And Severian’s life is some kind of time loop

Οὖτις, Saturday, 1 September 2018 05:36 (five months ago) Permalink

no, yes, yes

the late great, Saturday, 1 September 2018 15:15 (five months ago) Permalink

you still have one more to go

the late great, Saturday, 1 September 2018 15:15 (five months ago) Permalink

inire is a hierodule, not a human, i think

the late great, Saturday, 1 September 2018 15:17 (five months ago) Permalink

Which hierodule? Severian says he was with him in the jungle, but the only ppl he was in the jungle with were vodalus and his retinue, agia and the green man

Οὖτις, Saturday, 1 September 2018 15:20 (five months ago) Permalink

inire is the "savage guide"

from the end of the first section of chapter 28 of citadel of the autarch ("on the march")

"for guides our column had three savages: a pair of young men who might have been brothers or even twins, and a much older one, twisted i thought, by deformities as well as age, who perpetually wore a grotesque mask ... a covered palanquin ... bore the autarch ... and one night when my guards were chattering among themselves ... i saw the old guide (his bent figure and the impression of an immense head conferred by his mask were unmistakable) approach this palanquin and slip beneath it. some time passed before he scuttled awauy. this old man was said to be an uturuncu, a shaman capable of assuming the form of a tiger"

the late great, Saturday, 1 September 2018 15:36 (five months ago) Permalink

i highly recommend reading "urth of the new sun" btw, it's an excellent coda to the series

the late great, Saturday, 1 September 2018 15:41 (five months ago) Permalink

Ah thx forgot that paragraph lol

Οὖτις, Saturday, 1 September 2018 16:09 (five months ago) Permalink

haha yeah these books are so dense!

the late great, Saturday, 1 September 2018 16:12 (five months ago) Permalink

I truly can’t remember if I read Urth of the New Sun after finishing my first traversal of the four. I definitely didn’t read it after my more recent traversal. I might never have read it.

cheese is the teacher, ham is the preacher (Jon not Jon), Sunday, 2 September 2018 19:03 (five months ago) Permalink

it’s very good

the late great, Sunday, 2 September 2018 19:04 (five months ago) Permalink

plot-wise it tells the story of the conciliator, resolves the time loop thing, takes us into the mothership, finishes the baldanders / talos / abaia story by showing what happens when the new sun arrives (spoiler alert - wolfe veers toward hard sci fi here and it’s not pretty)

solid payoff imo

the late great, Sunday, 2 September 2018 19:09 (five months ago) Permalink

it’s a bit like when you finish an epic d&d campaign and become a living god and then the gm lets you play a few adventures in super high fantasy god mode just for the hell of it

well that and it spelled out a lot of plot points from the first four for me (i am a dummy)

but i don’t mean to imply the tone shifts radically - he’s still exploring the same themes and questions as before, with the same voice and pacing. if anything it’s even more elegaic than the first four, even though it packs in a lot more earth shaking action

the late great, Sunday, 2 September 2018 19:15 (five months ago) Permalink

hey I just found super cheap old hardbacks of the last two books and Urth in a thrift store! time to get reading.

sleeve, Sunday, 2 September 2018 20:24 (five months ago) Permalink

Has urth o’ th’ NS gotten kind of swept under the carpet since it came out? Is it included in the reprint schemes that have happened since then? I feel like it doesn’t get mentioned much

cheese is the teacher, ham is the preacher (Jon not Jon), Sunday, 2 September 2018 20:53 (five months ago) Permalink

for whatever reason it has its own volume, but it’s still in print and i think there’s an ebook bundle w allfive

the late great, Sunday, 2 September 2018 20:59 (five months ago) Permalink

one month passes...

i mean i get as an atheist one might find this stuff to be corny bullshit or whatever but lighten up, it's sci fi literature not a manual for living

― the late great, Sunday, August 12, 2018 8:12 AM (two months ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

Haha fair enough. Looks like the essay has disappeared from the internet so I can't reread it and get angry all over again.

Didn't realise that there are many various fallen civilizations on urth beside the ascians and the autarchy. I thought the two were portrayed as a binary that perhaps unconsciously (?) reflected the cold war division of the world at the time the books were written.

Currently reading Viriconium and enjoying it a lot. Probably not as good as BotNS but working in the same (future fantasy) genre and has some of the same stylistic flair.

Mercer Finn, Tuesday, 23 October 2018 21:23 (three months ago) Permalink

one month passes...

from a friend, I just got to this part of the 3rd book:

In Wolfe's Solar Cycle, Typhon the two-headed Imperial person is a direct reference to, possibly an intentional gank, of the two-headed president in Douglas Adams' Hithchiker's Guide.

In fact, there are many plot and character aspects of the Solar Cycle that have direct precursors in Adams' work. One wonders if Wolfe expected to be called on it!

sleeve, Monday, 3 December 2018 02:35 (two months ago) Permalink

one month passes...

there's a podcast called Alzabo Soup who are doing a close reading of the book of the new sun and i've been listening to it while doing my third read-through and i'm enjoying it, even if a lot of what the dudes suggest is fairly obvious or commonly understood.

ian, Tuesday, 22 January 2019 18:33 (three weeks ago) Permalink

I'm almost done with the fourth one! I can tell I'm gonna need to read them again in a few years.

sleeve, Tuesday, 22 January 2019 18:39 (three weeks ago) Permalink

i'm midway thru the third i think. there's so much that opens up on re-reads. it's unlike anything else in that way, ime.

ian, Tuesday, 22 January 2019 18:50 (three weeks ago) Permalink

https://alzabosoup.libsyn.com/

fyi. they're just getting into citadel of the autarch.

ian, Tuesday, 22 January 2019 18:55 (three weeks ago) Permalink

i'll finish my re-read before they finish their spoiler-lite close reading.

ian, Tuesday, 22 January 2019 18:55 (three weeks ago) Permalink

there's so much that opens up on re-reads. it's unlike anything else in that way, ime.

― ian

agree! one of a small # of books that are fairly made for re-reading.

the late great, Thursday, 24 January 2019 06:51 (three weeks ago) Permalink

three weeks pass...

Having recently finished my third reading of the book of the new sun, I started listening to the Alzabo Soup podcast mentioned upthread and am enjoying it a lot. There are definitely many things that are easy to miss even after multiple reads that these guys are pointing out. I liked the part about how Severian is probably hiding the coin he got from Vodalus not so much because he treasures it so much but because it links him to his murder of the person who was trying to stop Vodalus in the first chapter and he doesn't want to get found out.

On the other hand it kind of annoyed me that they keep saying that Severian is obviously lying about his perfect memory because he mentions forgetting about the coin in his pocket or other similar examples, when it seems pretty obvious that when Severian talks about perfect memory he's talking about having perfect recall, not about actually never forgetting anything.

silverfish, Friday, 15 February 2019 18:09 (two days ago) Permalink

I've been listening to Alzabo Soup as I work one of my day jobs (washing LPs & 45s or taking photos of LPs & 45s for 8 hour stretches) -- i just caught up with them last week. sometimes i think they overreach in looking for significance in things, but it's really nice when they explain where certain names come from, and where certain stories come from.

The thing with Severian's memory is tricky because it depends on how the reader chooses to interpret the book. It seems too simple to think that "Severian's a liar so we can't believe his interpretation of things exactly" -- his issue tends to be more sins of omission (Jolenta's rape, probably other things that make him look bad) he mentions a few times saying he sometimes wonders if he's going/gone insane, and he refers to "all you inside me" or something like that, before what he receives as autarch is revealed. I have no concrete answers because I keep thinking about it too hard and confusing myself. Bu the the idea of the Writer Severian relating not only episodes from his life, but also possibly making reference to things that happened not to him, but did happen to other Autarch's, or to Thecla. We know he has Thecla's memories in there -- are there other scenes in which he's disconnected from the rest of his companions that could potentially be recollections by a different person, recast by Severian as "I" for the writing?

sorry i can't think much better than this right now.

ian, Saturday, 16 February 2019 04:10 (yesterday) Permalink

Also how many times did he die.
And what is the relationship of Inire and the Hierodules. if any ?

ian, Saturday, 16 February 2019 04:11 (yesterday) Permalink

man I need a glossary for all the different social classes

still not done with the 4th one, been real busy

sleeve, Saturday, 16 February 2019 04:16 (yesterday) Permalink

inire is a hierodule

the late great, Saturday, 16 February 2019 04:20 (yesterday) Permalink

i figured he is a non-human of some kind, but is he the same being as the hierodules that Sev meets in the castle or one of a different type? He doesn't seem to have the same relationship to time that the hierodules say they have.

ian, Saturday, 16 February 2019 04:39 (yesterday) Permalink

same was my assumption. i thought he didn’t experience time backward because he was stuck on earth and not traveling on tzadkiel’s ship? i don’t know, wolfe half explains and half abandons that idea in book 5.

the late great, Saturday, 16 February 2019 04:44 (yesterday) Permalink

i need to re-read Urth next i guess.

ian, Saturday, 16 February 2019 04:45 (yesterday) Permalink

i never understood the relationship of abaia and erebus to the hierodules, also the cumaean, what’s up w her

the late great, Saturday, 16 February 2019 04:55 (yesterday) Permalink

i think the hierodues are working in opposition to erebus and abaia, who are trying to enslave humanity/control urth for their own nefarious ends. no idea what's up with the cumaean. is she litereally snakelike or is that a metaphor

ian, Saturday, 16 February 2019 15:04 (yesterday) Permalink


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