RIP, science fiction and fantasy Grand Master Gene Wolfe, 1931-2019


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Godspeed to an incomparable giant of world literature.



Huge impact on my early development as a sci fi nerd. The Book of the New Sun was one I reread several times. He will be missed.




I’m still freaked out by Severian’s girlfriend. And other stuff…



OMG. I just started rereading Book of the New Sun this morning. Tragic. Huge loss.



Rest in peace, Mr. Wolfe.

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Asked by editor Damon Knight to name his biggest influences, he replied: “G. K. Chesterton and Marks’ [Standard] Handbook for [Mechanical] Engineers.”

That one makes me smile; Wolfe was an engineer.



The thing about Wolfe is the guy could really write. A lot of sf authors have good ideas but their prose… well, you know? But Wolfe wrote just beautiful prose.



The man wrote some dense prose and stimulated my return to the dictionary!




Me too. 17-year-old me was flabbergasted when the Book of the New Sun appeared. And in those days, Gene was selling remainder copies of his other books by way of Locus ads, so I had to buy them all. He was pretty nice about putting up with correspondence from goofy-assed fans. Later, I got to be on the World Fantasy Award panel that gave him the Life Acheivment award. So I guess it shows that you should be nice to your fans.



I only read “The Wizard Knight” series, but I admired it greatly.



You have so much ahead of you and I am jealous. If the Book of the New Sun is too daunting then start with The Fifth Head of Cerberus.

Unrelated: I quite like the theory that Wolfe personally provided the mustachioed figure on the Pringles cans.



A great writer of things too dark for me. I loved the prose, though.



I have a large number of his books on my shelves. The bad news is there won’t be any new ones. The good news is that every time I re-read one I find new things in them so I have many more years of enjoyment.



Minority Report here. I read The Book of the New Sun. I found it turgid and pointless. The characters did not engage me. I also read The Knight’s Tale, which I thought was fascinating and well written. But, for my money, Wolfe’s masterpiece was “The Fifth Head of Cerberus”. That was brilliant, in my opinion. I like the idea of “a good story never explaining everything”. He did it well in “The Knight’s Tale”, and without parallel in “Cerberus”. People who like to lose themselves in fantasy will enjoy the Book of the New Sun, but I can’t help but feel it is the longest pot-boiler I’ve ever read. I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, the man was a great writer. But the great writing is not the apparent one.



Book of the New Sun requires patience, but the gorgeous writing makes it all worthwhile. Book of the Long Sun is much easier to enter. You feel like you are on solid ground. Until, like Wile E. Coyote, you find you have walked off a cliff and things are way deeper than you thought. Companion books to BOTNS are the Latro books (Soldier of the Mist and Soldier of Arete). In the first, Severian can forget nothing. Latro cannot remember yesterday.

Also, do not know if Wolfe designed the Pringles logo, but he did help design the machine that made the chips. He was also the editor for the massive trade journal Plant Engineering for some time.

Wolfe is not the easiest of reads, but for many of us he is loved and missed deeply.

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He demanded much from his readers and rewarded their efforts richly. In a world of apprentices he was a Master.

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