(urth) Swanwick and others

Marc Aramini marcaramini at gmail.com
Sun Jun 15 09:27:14 PDT 2014

On Sat, Jun 14, 2014 at 7:10 PM, Michael Thayer <michael.o.thayer at gmail.com>

> Andrew Mason>  Neal Stephenson's _Anathem_  is reminiscent of _New Sun_
> in a number of
> ways, so much so that once, having momentarily forgotten the name of its
> hero, I found myself calling him 'Severian'. It may be that Stephenson is
> acknowledging this influence in naming a language (not a planet, as some
> have claimed) 'Orth'.
> _____________
> I am a big fan of Anathem, but I just don't see the New Sun
> parallels/connection -- what specifically do you see as the similarities?
>  I'm intrigued.
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Anathem is my least favorite of Stephenson's by a good stretch. I found the
metaphysical implications of New Sun far more personally compelling than
the "history of philosophy" execution in Anathem, perhaps because the
numinous and spiritual was approached from a different contextual

Perhaps the big difference between Wolfe and other authors resides in the
fact that he is practically trained as an engineer, respects both pulp and
classic literature, and still believes in the spiritual and mystical world
in a way that many other modern, intelligent writers do not.  Thus works
obviously inspired by him like Confluence seem extremely secular and
"nonmysterious" in comparison when the veneer of plot is stripped away or
as the story develops, leaving worldly themes that close off and exhaust
mysterious possibilities rather than embrace them.
Fantasy is just a genre to play with to authors like John Crowley and even
perhaps M John Harrison, and I think Crowley's Aegypt sequence shows that
triumph of boring realism in its progression to a very unsatisfying
conclusion (a tone clearly in tune with the dominant literary zeitgeist of
the 20th and 21st century, unlike some of Wolfe's efforts).  Extremely
religious works usually wind up being unintellectual propaganda, and Wolfe,
in my opinion, avoids this, too.  (Of course I am assuming we are not
talking about escapism and fluff like, say, superhero movies as a dominant
movement in "literature" until fairly recently, though it is certainly
alive in the culture right now).
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