We believe that we invent symbols. The truth is that they invent us; we are their creatures, shaped by their hard, defining edges. When soldiers take their oath they are given a coin, an asimi stamped with the profile of the Autarch. Their acceptance of that coin is their acceptance of the special duties and burdens of military life—they are soldiers from that moment, though they may know nothing of the management of arms. I did not know that then, but it is a profound mistake to believe that we must know of such things to be influenced by them, and in fact to believe so is to believe in the most debased and superstitious kind of magic. The would-be sorcerer alone has faith in the efficacy of pure knowledge; rational people know that things act of themselves or not at all.
Master Ultan asked Book of the New Sun enthusiast and SF writer Stephen Palmer how he first came across Wolfe’s work. This is his reply.
Wolfe’s latest novel, A Borrowed Man, was published this week by Tor/Macmillan in the USA. Copies have arrived here in the Library and we have already started reading them. Ultan’s Library co-editor Nigel Price was amazed and delighted to discover that he is the object of the novel’s dedication. He does not know what he did to deserve this […]
“Reading Gene Wolfe is dangerous work… It’s a knife-throwing act, and like all good knife-throwing acts, you may lose fingers, toes, earlobes or eyes in the process. Gene doesn’t mind. Gene is throwing the knives.”
Neil Gaiman, How to read Gene Wolfe, 2002