Ultan's Library

a web resource for the study of Gene Wolfe

Category: Book of the Long Sun

A Lexicon Urthus update

Cover image for Lexicon Urthus - A Dictionary for the Urth Cycle, by Michael Andre-DriussiWolfe scholar Michael Andre-Driussi recently got in touch to let us know that he has published a list of corrections and errata for his masterful “Dictionary of the Urth Cycle”, Lexicon Urthus.  

The ebook version has been updated in the kindle store, and recent copies of the hard and softcover editions have also been updated, and are marked “Second Edition 2008: corrected 2014” on the copyright page. Michael has provided Master Ultan with the following lists of corrections. He says:

“For hardcopy books, I think an acceptable method would be to write in the corrections, thereby personalizing the volume. Use of vermilion ink would be an added bonus!”

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The Reader as Augur: Beginnings and Endings in Gene Wolfe’s The Book of the Long Sun

By Nick Gevers

Gene Wolfe’s The Book of the Long Sun (1993-6) is a deeply complex expression of momentum: the momentum of faith, of history, of escape, of understanding. Science Fiction is replete with texts that involve such accelerations of vision and concept; but Wolfe, with his penetrating and parodic understanding of the conventions and purposes of the genre, carries this technique of escalation to levels of subtlety not frequently encountered. In so doing, Wolfe achieves two grand purposes: first, he is able to demonstrate once again the extraordinary arsenal of irony, of resonant symbolism, and of subliminal implication that has fuelled his extraordinary career; and second, he is able to affirm the absolute primacy of religious faith – specifically, of his own idiosyncratic Roman Catholicism – by way of a work superficially characteristic of a thoroughly secular genre. The four volumes of The Book of the Long Sun are exponentially progressive secular leaps into the surrounding realm of Faith; this article, by means of close reference to the opening and concluding passages of each volume, explores how Wolfe structures this cascading, apparently inadvertent but in truth inevitable, march closer to the Divine.

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Five Steps towards Briah: Gene Wolfe’s The Book of the Long Sun

By Nick Gevers

The title is a multiplex pun, so typical of Gene Wolfe. The Book of the Long Sun (1993-6) can only closely follow, or mirror The Book of the New Sun (1980-3). And just as Severian, the narrator of the first Book, is the New Son of God, a man becoming Christlike if not Christ himself returned, so Patera Silk, Wolfe’s new protagonist, is the Long Son, the product of a virgin birth, long (tall) in physical and moral stature. And the renovation of the Sun is again implied; and the story, in four volumes, is very long, and is not over yet. Thus Wolfe in six words summarises his second tetralogy; and the critic can add that The Book of the Long Sun is, very likely, the most significant work of SF to be published in the 1990s – the most precise, the most sustained, and the most profound. It is a tale of physical, religious, and philosophical exodus; and, as such, it interrogates, and dismisses, the material world. The result is devious, eccentric, and charismatic, an old story rendered utterly, weirdly new.

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