(urth) This Week in Google Alerts: one-line summaries

Antonin Scriabin kierkegaurdian at gmail.com
Tue Jan 8 16:50:18 PST 2013

I think TBOTNS is a great example of books that demonstrate the silliness
of taking an either / or approach to genres.
On Jan 8, 2013 7:40 PM, "Gwern Branwen" <gwern0 at gmail.com> wrote:

> http://bookstove.com/science-fiction/book-review-gene-wolfe-the-claw-of-the-conciliator/
> > The hero eats his dead girlfriend and gives an ape back its severed hand
> as the journey continues.
> Nah, I'm kidding, it's a real review:
> > There is much debate as to whether Wolfe’s best-known quartet is science
> fiction or fantasy. It has rockets (mostly serving as buildings), time
> travellers, and androids, as well as laser rifles. Yet it also has
> monsters, prophesies, a man (Severian), who may be able to resurrect the
> dead as well as execute criminals with Terminus Est. To me, the work is
> fantasy, as much of the SF element seems decayed and archaic in a world
> where the magic is seen as more important. In any interpretation, it
> carries some of the genre’s finest writing.
> Also,
> http://buenogato.wordpress.com/2012/12/30/the-shadow-of-the-torturer/
> > The Shadow of the Torturer, filled as it is with strange incident and
> wonderful language, is really the story of boyhood into manhood, told by a
> man who claims to have perfect memory. At least, that’s the skeleton of it.
> This book takes place, it seems, far in the future. This is never
> explicitly stated–in fact, much that’s vital never is. Wolfe is an absolute
> master of subtlety. For instance, Severian comes across this painting,
> among others:
> >
> >> “[It] showed an armored figure standing in a desolate landscape. It had
> no weapon, but held a staff bearing a strange, stiff banner. The visor of
> this figure’s helmet was entirely of gold, without eye slits or
> ventilation; in its polished surface the deathly desert could be seen in
> reflection, but nothing more.”
> >
> > Savvy you may have already discerned that this is a picture of an
> astronaut. I did not, until I stumbled across that fact in some critical
> commentary on the book. Delights like these pepper the book, and the
> meanings of more seemingly obscure points (who is Severian’s mother?) are
> still debated.
> --
> gwern
> http://www.gwern.net
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