There's a reading project going on this year for Gene Wolfe fans. It's the Gene Wolfe Solar Cycle
book club. The goal is to read all 12 books in Wolfe's Solar cycle, one book per month, and discuss them online.
I've never read any of these books before but did enjoy his most recent book, An Evil Guest
, so I decided to go for it. The 12 books are collected in 3 omnibus editions, The Book of the New sun, The Book of the Long Sun, and The Book of the Short Sun
as well as one additional book, The Urth of the New Sun
. But in my usual fashion I decide to get first edition hardcovers of all 12 individual books. Thank god for e-bay and ABE books.
The series is an epic fantasy with Science fiction Elements. It takes place (I think) in a far future earth where society is in decay, most technology is lost and people live more primatively. I love books like that. It brings to mind M John Harrisons Viriconium
and even Stephen King's Dark Tower
series although with a more medievel rather than Western feel as the Darktower is. The first book is The Shadow of the Torturer
. I loved it so much I quickly read the next 3 books in the series. Wolfe is a fascionating writer. His prose is beautiful if somewhat oblique. hidden meanings abound and the narrator is not definitely reliable. That makes it fun and challenging to figure out just exactly what's going on, where things are heading and where they've been.
On the book club website only the Shadow of the Torturer is open for discussion now. Each subsequent book will be open on the 20th of each month. It's difficult to discuss just the one book when Ive already read the next 3. Many people in club have already read the whole cycle previously. 'm sure it's especially tough for them. People are doing a pretty good job of avoiding spoilers but some of the hints that have been dropped lead me to believe this will be a truly mind blowing epic saga when all is said and done.
As much as I want to continue the series I'm taking a brief break to allow the club to catch up a little. I'm currently reading Thunderer
by Felix Gilman and will follow that up with his Gears of the City
before I go back to Wolfe. I may just read Shadow of the Torturer
agin to try and catch the little things I missed the first time around.
I highly recommend this series for anyone who loves literary Fantasy and SF