Ultan's Library

a web resource for the study of Gene Wolfe

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Ultan’s Library congratulates Marc Aramini on his Hugo nomination

Master Ultan offers warm congratulations to regular Library contributor Marc Aramini, whose full-length study of Wolfe’s fiction, Between Light and Shadow: An Exploration of the Fiction of Gene Wolfe, 1951 to 1986 , has been nominated for a 2016 Hugo Award in the category of Best Related Work.

Ultan’s Library published Marc’s piece on The Fifth Head of Cerberus in 2014 and interviewed him about his short story in the tribute-anthology Shadows of the New Sun. Marc has also recorded a series of well-received video lectures on Wolfe and is a regular contributor to the Urth mailing list.

Most recently, Ultan’s Library published an extract from Between Light and Shadow about Wolfe’s story ‘A Solar Labyrinth’ as well as Wolfe’s original story.

Andre-Driussi examines the New Sun’s origins

Miachael Andre-DriussiIn his latest essay for Ultan’s Library, “The Feast of Saint Katharine (with a “K”)”, Wolfe scholar and lexicographer Michael Andre-Driussi examines the origins of the published four-volume The Book of the New Sun as a projected novella.

What might that novella have been like? Which parts of that original short version survive in the greCover image for Lexicon Urthus - A Dictionary for the Urth Cycle, by Michael Andre-Driussiatly expanded story that we now have? And why did Wolfe change his original plan and go for something so much longer?

Andre-Driussi sifts through the evidence and shares his findings with the readers of Ultan’s Library.

“The Feast of Saint Katharine (with a “K”)” is due to be published in Ultan’s Library on Wednesday 30 March 2016.

Ultan’s Library republishes a classic Wolfe story

In a complete departure from previous practice, Ultan’s Library, which normally publishes literary criticism on the works of Gene Wolfe, has republished a classic Wolfe short story.

“A Solar Labyrinth”, which originally appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in 1983 and was later collected in Wolfe’s anthology Storeys from the Old Hotel, is a jewel of a tale, a miniature masterpiece. Neil Gaiman chose it as the basis for his own homage to Wolfe, “A Lunar Labyrinth” (collected in Shadows of the New Sun) and described it as, “a short story of brilliance and beauty and, hidden deep in the shadows, danger and darkness.”

The central conceit, about a maze made of shifting shadows, is a wonder in itself, but the true marvel of the story is the way that its form so artfully matches its subject matter. Just as the penumbrous walls of Mr Smith’s maze complicate its solution by moving with the passage of the sun, so the story’s meaning inexorably shifts under the reader’s gaze. Does the story have a happy pastoral ending, or a sinister and malevolent one? And is this a story about mazes at all, or is it really about untangling the meaning of stories in general, and in particular those written by Gene Wolfe who, as the author of The Shadow of the Torturer and the rest of The Book of the New Sun, really does know a thing or two about constructing narrative solar labyrinths?

To help readers contemplate these imponderables, Ultan’s Library is also delighted to publish the chapter on “A Solar Labyrinth” from Marc Aramini’s masterly and compendious survey of Wolfe’s fiction, Between Light and Shadow: An Exploration of the Fiction of Gene Wolfe 1951-1986. Many thanks to Marc for giving Ultan’s Library permission to do so.

Just published: A Borrowed Man

Cover image of A Borrowed Man by Gene WolfeWolfe’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 honour, though his best guess is that it was because he was critically ill in hospital for several months around the time the book was being completed. Though, even if correct, he would not recommend this method of attracting the author’s sympathy, his joy at being still here and able to read this work knows no bounds.

Meanwhile, word has reached the Great Library of Nessus that Wolfe is already hard at work on a sequel, the working title of which is Interlibrary Loan.

Here is the publisher’s blurb for A Borrowed Man:

It is perhaps a hundred years in the future, our civilization is gone, and another is in place in North America, but it retains many familiar things and structures. Although the population is now small, there is advanced technology, there are robots, and there are clones.

E. A. Smithe is a borrowed person. He is a clone who lives on a third-tier shelf in a public library, and his personality is an uploaded recording of a deceased mystery writer. Smithe is a piece of property, not a legal human.

A wealthy patron, Colette Coldbrook, takes him from the library because he is the surviving personality of the author of Murder on Mars. A physical copy of that book was in the possession of her murdered father, and it contains an important secret, the key to immense family wealth. It is lost, and Colette is afraid of the police. She borrows Smithe to help her find the book and to find out what the secret is. And then the plot gets complicated.

Links roundup:

Wolfe at Balticon 50

Maryland’s Balticon SF convention will be celebrating its 5oth anniversary in 2016. George RR Martin is the Guest of Honor (GoH) but as part of the celebrations, the convention has also invited back every living past GoH.

Gene Wolfe, who was GoH at Balticon 40, is due to be among those attending.

The convention runs on the USA’s Memorial Day Weekend, 27-30 May 2016. Further details are available on the Balticon website.

Me & Gene – by Stephen Palmer

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.

Read More

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!”

Read More

Aramini on Wolfe on Youtube… again!

Our contributor, Marc Aramini, has posted more discussion of Wolfe on youtube:

Wolfe in 2015: A Borrowed Man

Ultan’s Library notes that Gene’s next novel, A Borrowed Man, is now listed on Amazon for publication in October 2015.

Gene discussed the novel in his October interview with the Barrington-Courier Review: 

“What I’m doing now is writing a sequel to a book that is not yet appeared, A Borrowed Man. “Interlibrary Loan” is the name of the sequel. “A Borrowed Man” is about a man who is a library resource and is treated as much like a library book. And in other words, you can go in and you can check this man out of the library, and pick his brains probably about whatever.

He is a clone from the DNA of a dead author, who has been given the memories of the dead author.”

Pre-order A Borrowed Man at Amazon USA

Pre-order A Borrowed Man at Amazon UK

Ultan contributor Marc Aramini’s new video on Gene Wolfe and Literature

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