Ultan's Library

a web resource for the study of Gene Wolfe

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“The Lupine Scholar” – an interview with Michael Andre-Driussi

“The Lupine Scholar”

By Scott Wowra

Michael Andre-Driussi is a courageous sort. After all, only a handful of brave scholars gleefully plummet into the literary mazes of science fiction’s Daedalus, American author Gene Wolfe. In this endeavor, Mr. Andre-Driussi has few peers. Michael’s painstaking research produced LEXICON URTHUS, the Rosetta Stone of Mr. Wolfe’s award-winning tetralogy THE BOOK OF THE NEW SUN and coda THE URTH OF THE NEW SUN.

For the uninitiated reader, THE BOOK OF THE NEW SUN is full of bizarre and seemingly counterfeit words like omophagist (an eater of raw flesh) and cherkaji (Persian light cavalry). In the early 1980s, frustrated readers accused Mr. Wolfe of deliberately fabricating unusual words to confuse them. Nothing could be further from the truth. All of the strange words that appear in THE BOOK OF THE NEW SUN are real. And they remind us just how odd language can sound without science fiction authors inventing new words that lack inherent meaning.

In response to his critics, Mr. Wolfe produced the essay “Words Weird and Wonderful” in THE CASTLE OF THE OTTER (1982) to demonstrate that, in fact, all the words he used in THE SHADOW OF THE TORTURER were genuine. The brief essay was an incomplete dictionary covering the first book in his tetralogy. Mr. Wolfe wisely left the rest of the work up to the reader.

And that leads us to Michael Andre-Driussi, the lexicographer of THE BOOK OF THE NEW SUN and a science fiction writer in his own right. What sort of person tirelessly tracks down the definition of obscure words, creating hundreds of 3×5 index cards in the process? Undoubtedly, the same sort of person crafty enough to pen them in THE BOOK OF THE NEW SUN. In a series of email interviews, I set out to learn more about Michael Andre-Driussi, a leading Lupine scholar.

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Wolfe at WindyCon

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Two more Wolfe novels on the way

There’s a brief interview with Gene Wolfe over at Sci Fi Wire in an article highlighting his new novel, An Evil Guest. In the interview, Wolfe confirms that he’s currently working on two new novels. The first, entitled The Sorcerer’s House, is “almost ready to go to the agency”, while the second, Home Fires, is still in first draft.

“Tell me about the Lexicon Urthus”: an interview with Michael Andre-Driussi

Delighted by the recent publication of a new edition of the Lexicon Urthus, Master Ultan tracks down Wolfe scholar Michael Andre-Driussi to find out how he came to write this invaluable reference work.

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Film version of “The Death of Doctor Island”

A 35mm film version of Gene Wolfe’s story “The Death of Doctor Island” is currently in production. The live-action footage has been shot and work is now proceeding on the computer graphics and effects. The producers are still trying to raise money to finish the project, however, and are making various sponsorship packages available, including the sale of individual still frames. Full details may be found here: www.doctorisland.com/.

The Death of Doctor Island Movie

The Death of Doctor Island Movie

Lexicon Urthus, second edition

First published in 1994, the Lexicon Urthus provides an invaluable guide to the meaning of many of the obscure words which Gene Wolfe uses in The Book of the New Sun and The Urth of the New Sun. It lists all the characters in those works and in Wolfe’s short stories set on Urth, explaining who they are and exploring the origins and significance of their names. Place names are similarly recorded and illuminated. And as if that were not enough, the Lexicon also includes a series of fascinating articles about the organisation and history of Severian’s world and comes with a foreword written by Gene Wolfe himself.

The original edition of the Lexicon Urthus has long been out of print, but now author Michael Andre-Driussi has reissued it in a new updated and expanded edition with many additional entries and articles. (The first edition came to 297 pages, the second weighs in at 439.) Published under his own Sirius Fiction imprint, the Lexicon Urthus, second edition is available in both hard- and paperback editions and can be bought directly from the author’s website, from Amazon and from nearly all good booksellers.

[Ultan’s Amazon UK affiliate links (for European readers): It is available via Amazon.co.uk in a hardback and paperback edition. It’s not showing as available to order in those links, but it does come in and out of stock, and you can buy it from the bookdepository via Amazon, and they are very reliable.]

Ultan’s Library admits new sunlight

Good to see the publication of a new article on Ultan’s Library, and the redesign of the whole site to boot.

Nigel

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