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

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haha yeah these books are so dense!

the late great, Saturday, 1 September 2018 16:12 (one year ago) link

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 (one year ago) link

it’s very good

the late great, Sunday, 2 September 2018 19:04 (one year ago) link

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 (one year ago) link

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 (one year ago) link

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 (one year ago) link

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 (one year ago) link

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 (one year ago) link

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 (one year ago) link

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 (eleven months ago) link

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 (nine months ago) link

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 (nine months ago) link

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 (nine months ago) link

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

ian, Tuesday, 22 January 2019 18:55 (nine months ago) link

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

ian, Tuesday, 22 January 2019 18:55 (nine months ago) link

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 (nine months ago) link

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 (nine months ago) link

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 (eight months ago) link

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 (eight months ago) link

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 (eight months ago) link

inire is a hierodule

the late great, Saturday, 16 February 2019 04:20 (eight months ago) link

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 (eight months ago) link

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 (eight months ago) link

i need to re-read Urth next i guess.

ian, Saturday, 16 February 2019 04:45 (eight months ago) link

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 (eight months ago) link

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 (eight months ago) link

one month passes...


mookieproof, Monday, 15 April 2019 16:23 (seven months ago) link

dang, just finished the first book of the new sun ... was unfamiliar with this guy, but loving it so far.

tylerw, Monday, 15 April 2019 16:28 (seven months ago) link

just saw this, RIP

I literally just found a replacement copy of the 4th New Sun book yesterday, I lost my copy when I was almost done. Looking forward to diving back in.

Emperor Tonetta Ketchup (sleeve), Monday, 15 April 2019 16:33 (seven months ago) link

RIP big man

the late great, Monday, 15 April 2019 17:08 (seven months ago) link

Aw fuck off :(

Roberto Spiralli, Monday, 15 April 2019 17:11 (seven months ago) link

is this where i admit i don't care for anything he wrote except "fifth head" and tBotNS?

the late great, Monday, 15 April 2019 17:11 (seven months ago) link

Aw man, I just finished a third reading of New Sun. I was really spending a lot of time thinking about this book the last couple of months.

silverfish, Monday, 15 April 2019 17:17 (seven months ago) link


book of the long sun is totally worth reading. First book is basically just a heist in a weird setting (I enjoyed it, but I guess not everyone would) but then it really opens up starting with book 2.

silverfish, Monday, 15 April 2019 17:28 (seven months ago) link

i started litany of the long sun but couldn't get very far into it


it just felt very "normal sci fi" to me

the late great, Monday, 15 April 2019 17:31 (seven months ago) link

i've only read the four orig sun books but i picked up a used urth of the new sun the other day, should get to it soon. rip. good stuff.

difficult listening hour, Monday, 15 April 2019 17:33 (seven months ago) link

^^ that one's next up for me

Emperor Tonetta Ketchup (sleeve), Monday, 15 April 2019 17:35 (seven months ago) link

might kill a can of pringles today in his honor

difficult listening hour, Monday, 15 April 2019 17:37 (seven months ago) link

two immense Catholic pinnacles felled in one day

mick signals, Monday, 15 April 2019 22:25 (seven months ago) link

it was a bummer. ok, he was 87, but i still wanted to talk about it, and apparently nobody i work with has ever heard of the book of the new sun

i should sometime reread the book of the new sun, i liked it but whenever i read this thread it becomes apparent to me that i have no idea about anything that happens in that book. i thought it was, just, people dueling with leaves and maoists telling stories.

at least i finished it though!

Jaki Liebowitz (rushomancy), Monday, 15 April 2019 23:34 (seven months ago) link

well those things do happen

the late great, Monday, 15 April 2019 23:37 (seven months ago) link

Urth of the New Sun is kinda blowing my mind right now, I have no idea what's gonna happen next (1/3 of the way through)

Emperor Tonetta Ketchup (sleeve), Thursday, 25 April 2019 22:09 (six months ago) link

three weeks pass...

did you finish it yet, sleeve?

the late great, Sunday, 19 May 2019 17:36 (five months ago) link

yes! I'm still a bit confused about what exactly happened at the end, I'll probably re-read it in 6 months or so.

some of the parts in "Urth" where all the puzzle pieces of the time travel fit together were really cool, like the Witch's Tower getting damaged and the origin of the Claw (which seems to be entirely self-referential?)

Emperor Tonetta Ketchup (sleeve), Monday, 20 May 2019 13:54 (five months ago) link

yeah the claw is an ouroboros

by the end you mean the *very* last scene? yeah i was always unsure about the significance of that too, except that perhaps it closes the loop (the first novel begins in a graveyard)

the late great, Monday, 20 May 2019 16:58 (five months ago) link

well that scene yeah, with the "gods" that were the 4 survivors on the raft, but also the whole stone town thing (last few chapters? with Apu-Punchau), I think some of it will become clearer when I re-read but iirc the stone town stuff was all in book one and my memory is already hazy on that.

Emperor Tonetta Ketchup (sleeve), Monday, 20 May 2019 17:08 (five months ago) link

The last time I did a re-read a couple of months ago I tried re-reading the stone town chapters in Urth of the New Sun and Book of the New Sun back to back just to get a better idea of what exactly is happening but I'm still not sure I completely get it.

As far as I can tell the real Severian died on the ship and the hierodules come to the stone town to help save a copy of Severian (an aquastor I think?) and another dead copy of Severian is left behind for the ritual with Hildegrin who will be destroyed by coming into contact with the real Severian from the end of Claw of the Conciliator. I'm going by memory here though, it was somewhat clearer when I read it. I'm still unclear on what purpose that ritual served.

silverfish, Tuesday, 21 May 2019 15:57 (five months ago) link

stumbled upon this, i wish i were rich

diamonddave85​​ (diamonddave85), Friday, 31 May 2019 13:14 (five months ago) link

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