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Gene Wolfe: Notable Works

This is an introductory guide to the works of American science fiction author Gene Wolfe, for interested readers and researchers

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"The necropolis has never seemed a city of death to me; I know its purple roses (which other people think so hideous) shelter hundreds of small animals and birds. The executions I have seen performed and have performed myself so often are no more than a trade, a butchery of human beings who are for the most part less innocent and less valuable than cattle. When I think of my own death, or the death of someone who has been kind to me, or even of the death of the sun, the image that comes to my mind is that of the nenuphar, with its glossy, pale leaves and azure flower.  Under flower and leaves are black roots as fine and strong as hair, reaching down into the dark waters."

From Gene Wolfe's The Shadow Of The Torturer, being the first part of The Book of the New Sun

The Book of the New sun

Wolfe's most famous and praised work, The Book of the New Sun is regarded as one of the greatest achievements in science fiction literature. Gothic, fantastical, spiritual, and mysterious, The Book of the New Sun immerses the reader in a world at once both familiar and utterly weird. While divided into four books, it's best to think of it similarly to how the Lord of the Rings (a work that it is frequently compared to) is divided into three books, but still regarded as one work. 

Set in a strange time beneath a dying sun, Severian, an exiled torturer, recounts to the reader, with the help of his 'perfect' memory, his journeys across a world both decadent and dilapidated. 


The Wizard Knight

Wolfe's two part Wizard Knight is, on the surface a fantasy novel utilizing traditional fantasy tropes. As the title suggests, magic and battles abound, but something else is happening, just beyond the reader's vision. The reader will encounter elves, fairies, and ogres in this Lord of the Rings meets A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court tale, richly steeped in Norse mythology, written in  epistolary style. This is another excellent choice for what Wolfe work to read first. 


Latro Series


The Fifth Head of Cerberus

In Wolfe's early novella, The Fifth Head of Cerberus, he established his particular style of dense, beautiful, creepy, science fiction mystery that he would employ for the rest of his career. You can find this novella in The Best Of Gene Wolfe, among other excellent, shorter stories.