GENE WOLFE (May 31st 1931- April 14th 2019): RIP!

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    Gene Rodman Wolfe (May 7, 1931 – April 14, 2019) was an American science fiction and fantasy writer.
    He was noted for his dense, allusive prose as well as the strong influence of his Catholic faith. He was a prolific short-story writer and novelist and won many science fiction and fantasy literary awards.

    Not only one of the greatest science fiction authors, but the one of the best American writers regardless of genre.
    In 2003, award-winning science fiction author Michael Swanwick said: “Gene Wolfe is the greatest writer in the English language alive today. Let me repeat that: Gene Wolfe is the greatest writer in the English language alive today! I mean it. Shakespeare was a better stylist, Melville was more important to American letters, and Charles Dickens had a defter hand at creating characters. But among living writers, there is nobody who can even approach Gene Wolfe for brilliance of prose, clarity of thought, and depth in meaning.”
    Among others, writers Neil Gaiman and Patrick O’Leary have credited Wolfe for inspiration. O’Leary has said: “Forget ‘Speculative Fiction.’ Gene Wolfe is the best writer alive. Period. And as Wolfe once said, ‘All novels are fantasies. Some are more honest about it.’ No comparison. Nobody – I mean nobody – comes close to what this artist does.”

    O’Leary also wrote an extensive essay concerning the nature of Wolfe’s artistry, entitled “If Ever A Wiz There Was”, originally published in his collection “Other Voices, Other Doors”.

    Ursula K. Le Guin is frequently quoted on the jackets of Wolfe’s books as having said “Gene Wolfe is our Melville.”
    Critic and science fiction writer Harlan Ellison, reviewing “The Shadow of the Torturer“, wrote:
    Gene Wolfe is engaged in the holy chore of writing every other author under the table. He is no less than one of the finest, most original writers in the world today. His work is singular, hypnotizing, startlingly above comparison. “The Shadow of the Torturer” breaks new ground in American literature and, as the first novel of a tetralogy, casts a fierce light on what will certainly be a lodestone landmark, his most stunning work to date. It is often said, but never more surely than this time: This book is not to be missed at peril of one’s intellectual enrichment.”

    Gene Wolfe is best known for his “Book of the New Sun” series (four volumes, 1980–83), the first part of his “Solar Cycle“.
     In 1998, Locus magazine ranked it the third-best fantasy novel published before 1990 based on a poll of subscribers that considered it and several other series as single entries.

    His best-known and most highly regarded work is the multi-volume novel “The Book of the New Sun“. Set in a bleak, distant future influenced by Jack Vance’s “Dying Earth” series, the story details the life of Severian, a journeyman torturer, exiled from his guild for showing compassion to one of the condemned.

    The novel is composed of the volumes “The Shadow of the Torturer” (1980), “The Claw of the Conciliator” (1981), winner of the Nebula Award for Best Novel, “The Sword of the Lictor” (1982), and “The Citadel of the Autarch” (1983). A coda, “The Urth of the New Sun” (1987), wraps up some loose ends but is generally considered a separate work. Several of Wolfe’s essays about writing the “Book of the New Sun” series were published in “The Castle of the Otter” (1982; the title refers to a misprint of the fourth book’s title in Locus magazine).
    In 1984, Wolfe retired from his engineering position and was then able to devote more time to his writing.
    In the 1990s, Wolfe published two more works in the same universe as “The Book of the New Sun“.

    The first, “The Book of the Long Sun“, consists of the novels “Nightside the Long Sun” (1993), “Lake of the Long Sun” (1994), “Caldé of the Long Sun” (1994), and “Exodus From the Long Sun” (1996). These books follow the priest of a small parish as he becomes wrapped up in political intrigue and revolution in his city-state.
    Wolfe then wrote a sequel, “The Book of the Short Sun“, composed of “On Blue’s Waters” (1999), “In Green’s Jungles” (2000) and “Return to the Whorl” (2001), dealing with colonists who have arrived on the sister planets Blue and Green. The three Sun works (The Book of the New Sun, The Book of the Long Sun, and The Book of the Short Sun) are often referred to collectively as the “Solar Cycle.”


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