(urth) The Distant Suns of Gene Wolfe

Matthew King automatthew at gmail.com
Mon May 28 11:28:29 PDT 2007

"The Distant Suns of Gene Wolfe", by John Farrell, is finally  
available in the online archives of First Things magazine.

Farrell makes the common mistake of identifying Jesus with the  
Conciliator, and he smears Gaiman and Stephenson by mentioning them  
in the same clause as Robert Jordan, but this is an otherwise worthy  


Lots of novel readers—from the highest brow to the lowest—nod  
politely when the science-fiction writer Gene Wolfe is mentioned. But  
even among science-fiction fans, one gets the sense that they’re  
saying, “Yes, yes, we know how good he is, but we’d rather talk about  
such bestselling authors as Neil Gaiman or Robert Jordan, Laurel  
Hamilton or Neal Stephenson.” As Glenn Reynolds, the inveterate  
science-fiction enthusiast and popular blogger of Instapundit.com,  
recently wrote, “Gene Wolfe is a superb writer, but I’m not crazy  
about his storytelling.” I recently asked a veteran New York editor  
whether Wolfe could find a publisher today if he were just coming  
along as a young writer. “Probably not,” she admitted. His writing is  
too religious, too difficult, and too strange.

Both the Soldier cycle and the Book of the New Sun series reveal the  
problem and the promise of Gene Wolfe. The New Sun series, for  
instance, takes place in a world more than a million years in the  
future, where artifacts of Christ still have healing power, while the  
Soldier novels chronicle the life of a mercenary bedeviled by gods  
and goddesses in the Mediterranean world a few centuries before the  
birth of Jesus.

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