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I'd like once and for all to collect a some representation of why the Book of the New Sun is my favorite (series) and one I will probably re-read my entire life.

I will preface this by saying that I've largely been a reader of light fantasy/sci-fi. I grew up on the Xanth series and other Piers Anthony books, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy series, the Dragonlance novels and other Weis/Hickman books, Ender's Game, etc. as well as a few classics like Dune. I read things like the Robotech series and Resident Evil novels, and though I've read some classic literature, I'm most accustomed to light, entertaining reading. When it comes to something dense however, in addition to William Gibson, I can't think of anything I've enjoyed more than Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun.

I've collected together in highly edited short-hand, some tidbit's of praise and observations others have made about the Book of the New Sun so that when I recommend it to my friends I can simply point them here and they will be like "Wow, Matt's right, I should check that out!". Below are the results of my efforts:

About the Book of the New Sun:

Why You Should Read This

You cannot go on with your life claiming some affiliation with the community of science fiction and not have read New Sun. It is that important. Do not expect any tropes from prior novels to exist here...you are completely unprepared from your prior reading experience. For any enthusiast of...authors deeply concerned with the perception of the human mind...you will be enlightened by this book.

Why You Should Pass

...For fully the first fifth of the book, the reader will often look up and wonder if we and other people who adore this book are in fact quite insane. The reader will ask to himself about Severian, "Who is this?" with the same bewildered disgust they reserve for inscrutable Saturday Night Live sketches. Gene Wolfe will stretch your mental faculties...and require careful concentration at the most innocuous moments...if you are not looking for works of literary merit in speculative fiction-then seek your pleasure at the altar of Robert Jordan, Orson Scott Card, and the other...sell-outs of the genre. (Matt: Note, I rather like Card, at least Ender's Game. Card has also cited Wolfe as an influence)...Gene Wolfe's accomplishment is singular: if this website succeeds only in introducing Gene Wolfe to a reading audience that otherwise knows only Robert Jordan and X-Files, then we will have succeeded.

From http://www.inchoatus.com/Reviews/The%20Book%20of%20the%20New%20Sun.htm

Severian is a torturer...He has no reason to think that his life will be anything other than ordinary, but he makes the cardinal mistake of falling in love with one of his "clients,"...As punishment, he is exiled from the immense and decaying metropolis of Nessus, where he has lived all his life, to the distant city of Thrax....He is presented with Terminus Est, a fabled sword. With this weapon, Severian embarks on a journey both physical and mental...Wolfe slowly builds a convincing and intricate picture of the distant future...For the patient reader, there is a great deal of rewarding material here. The Book of the New Sun is not exactly a light read, but in the hands of Gene Wolfe the material is masterfully presented...

From http://www.sfsite.com/01b/ns96.htm

This book could be read for countless lifetimes without exhausting its wealth. On the surface its another stable boy becomes emperor sort of story...The imagery is...decidedly beautiful. The story is set in an unspecified, but extremely distant future...the moon has been made verdant and now shines green in the sky...the Sun is dying due to "a worm" at its center...the sands on the beach are full of colors because the sand is not really sand, but the glass and stone from our buildings of today ground into a fine powder...I could go on and on. Most of these things are...hinted at and must be pieced together from the clues strewn about, and this makes the imagery that much more powerful...

From http://www.jvoegele.com/literarysf/tbotns.html

(from John Clute's Encyclopedia of Science Fiction)
As a synthesizing work of fiction -- a type of creation which tends to come, for obvious reasons, late in the period or genre it transmutes -- The Book of the New Sun owes clear debts to...the dying-Earth (>FAR FUTURE) category of PLANETARY ROMANCE initiated by Jack VANCE. Though it is a full-blown tale of cosmogony, the entire story is set on Urth, eons hence, a world so impacted with the relics of humanity's long residence that archaeology and geology have become, in a way, the same science...The world into which Severian is born has indeed become so choked with formula and ritual that early readers of THE SHADOW OF THE TORTURER could be perhaps forgiven for identifying the text as SWORD AND SORCERY...

From http://nhw.livejournal.com/432819.html

What Severian experiences through these pages is really nothing less than what Joseph Campbell has called "the hero's journey." It's the stuff of epics and myth...There is scarcely an area of human endeavor, from love and warfare to history and the arts, that Wolfe doesn't touch on...we are free to judge Wolfe's tales by their content as well as by the way they are told. His inventiveness never flags, and it's all served up in language that is intricate yet clear...

From http://www.sfsite.com/03b/sc124.htm

One of the most acclaimed "science fantasies" ever, Gene Wolfe's The Book of the New Sun is a long, magical novel in four volumes. This is the first-person narrative of Severian, a lowly apprentice torturer blessed and cursed with a photographic memory, whose travels lead him through the marvels of far-future Urth, and who--as revealed near the beginning--eventually becomes his land's sole ruler or Autarch. On the surface it's a colorful story with all the classic ingredients...Wolfe evokes a chilly sense of time's vastness, with an age-old, much-restored painting of a golden-visored "knight," really an astronaut standing on the moon...The Book of the New Sun is almost heartbreakingly good, full of riches and subtleties that improve with each rereading...

Excerpted from amazon's editorial review

One of the great literary achievements of fantasy-
Like thousands of teenagers, I came of age with *The Lord of the Rings*...But of all the fantasy series I ever read, the only that ever compared to Tolkien's masterpiece in my opinion was Gene Wolfe's *New Urth* tetralogy. Middle Earth seems to be set in a distant past, barely threatened by the first premises of industrialization. Urth on the other hand is our own world millennia hence, a decaying planet waiting for a promised rebirth, frozen in some static medieval social order...Tolkien was obviously not Wolfe's major influence. The world Severian...so entrancingly describes seems to be a...labyrinthine urban world...filled with Lovecraftian horrors...

From Jean-Francois Virey's Amazon review

like any other gene wolfe novel...this is not an easy read...if you are able to meet the challenges with which wolfe baits you, though..you'll have absorbed a voice that will stay with you, experienced a world so deftly imagined that its images will haunt you, and been provoked to think about things in a...wider, more far-ranging manner. and you'll be entertained along the way...wolfe's brilliance defies categorization. he's not just a giant of speculative fiction; he's a giant of literature.

From n. e. bhodi "chaos theory"'s review

A Work of Wonder-
...I cannot immediately name ANY contemporary author, in my opinion, with the sheer amount of imaginative creativity Wolfe has, and this is his opus...this book is not really a "fantasy" book or a "science fiction" book...but really this is just imaginative fiction as it's best, it recalls Hermann Melville or Kafka more than it does...contemporaries like Robert Jordan. Highly recommended to any adventurous reader of fiction...

From Thomas J. Gamble "reader."'s Amazon review

Other truly interesting tidbits I found include two wiki articles about details from the series, one on the ascian language and another on Terminus Est. Morgan take note, "Plague Lord Typhus's flagship is called the Terminus Est in Warhammer 40,000".


The middle of February is always crap. The northeast got dumped on in that big storm on Valentine's day and I had to literally dig my car out of a snowdrift with a metal spade. :P Needless to say I have a snow shovel now. The roads are finally clear and my driveway has been plowed, but there was like a week where there was just snow everyplace.

I suffered some frustrations yesterday. There was a copy of Braveknight on an eBay store used for $21 that I was planning to grab when I got the money, but now that some of my auctions ended and I have some money in Paypal, it's gone. I know that's what I get for waiting, but it just pisses me off. This time of year makes everyone less patient. Anyway I was just saying how I have too many games. :)

Some good news, I translated more on WtPC. Don't know what day I'm on, but I think it's more than half way through the summer. Some highlights include finally trying Satomi's cooking. I needed help with a couple lines, one of which turned out to be a reference to the character Hoshi Ittetsu from Star of the Giants, who was known for flipping over the dinner table when losing his temper. I've seen this on numerous anime but I did not know where it originated, nor did I know how to translate the line! Thankfully satsu stepped in to lend me a hand.

"Satomi: Thanks. But...I'd like to know whether it came out well or not."

1. Secret Technique - Flipping the dinner table!
2. Perfect!! Even better than usual!!
3. Ah, ha-ha..."

I'll leave the results of these choices for you to find out when the game is finished. ;) I'm starting to think that your relationship with Satomi is one of the most complicated in the game since you are friends already. There is a lot more about her in the most recent blocks. It's pretty interesting for me since I never pursued her in the game, I know nothing about her story aside from the obvious stuff. Also more about Saori, who is becoming a favorite character of mine, though I'm not sure how satisfying her story is (though it seems like one of zigfried favorites). I found that with characters that are hard to encounter like Yukari, it's kind of boring to play sometimes because there aren't as many moments with them to look forward to. I also got a little more insight into Reika's character than I have before. I've never finished the game with her before either. I'm looking forward to the first week or so in March when I will have most of the time to work on translating and see how far I can get toward wrapping up this script.


I'm listening to Yello right now. From Wikipedia: "Yello was originally formed by Boris Blank (keyboards,sampling,percussion,backing vocals) and Carlos Peron (tapes) in the late 1970s. Dieter Meier (vocals,lyrics), a millionaire industrialist and gambler, was brought in when the two founders realised that they needed a singer. Meier and Blank joined forces in 1979 to release a single called "I.T. Splash"...Yello take great pride in their original sound, which is mainly characterised by unusual samples, a heavy reliance on rhythm and Dieter Meier's dark voice...Every track on a Yello album has been created by the band from scratch. Nearly every instrument has been sampled and engineered by Boris Blank, who over the years has built up an original sample library of over 100,000 named and categorized sounds...Yello's music has been described by its fans and critics as very visual, creating dramatic movie-like visions in their minds." It's my friends CD (Andy, that's you) but I like it too. ^_^ Enough that I might look for some more of it.

I don't remember if I blogged about Frontline Assembly's new album, Artificial Soldier, but that is really good too. I ran across the term EBM, or Electronic Body Music, for the first time while looking up a review of thier album Tactical Neural Implant. It seems the term was coined by Front 242, and is used to describe a sound popular during the 80s with a number of bands generally defined as industrial or electronic punk bands. Characteristics include "Hard and often sparse danceable electronic beats, clear undistorted vocals, shouts or growls with reverberation and echo effects, and repetitive sequencer lines." I'd never heard of this before but a number of bands I enjoy such as Frontline Assembly, Die Krupps, and Ministry have apparently made music that falls within this category, or that borrows from it.

I spent too much time yesterday compiling a list of Xbox games. I made a list from the official Japanese Xbox site of all the Xbox games that came out in Japan. I then took that list, and mostly using www.gamefaqs.com and some google searches, matched up every one that had come out in both the US and Japan, to leave a list of only the games that had not come out in the US at all. I then took those games and further broke them down into games that had been released on other systems, and those that seemed to have only been released on Xbox. This gave me a list of Japan-only, Xbox-only games, that was both interesting and dissapointing at the same time.

As far as I can tell there were only 2 anime-based games released on the Xbox, Yukikaze, and Galaxy Angel. The Galaxy Angel game seems to have been released on other platforms, so the only one unique to the Xbox would be Yukikaze. I seem to remember checking this out on my second trip to Japan, and I remember it beeing pretty dissapointing. I'm not much of a flight-sim style combat game, which is what this seemed to most closely resemble. There are a number of entirely forgettable, racing, board-game, and 3rd-person action games that all look really bad. Exceptions to this include a couple of mech-games, ExaSkeleton and Metal Wolf Chaos that look pretty cool. Bistro Cupid seems to have started on the system, but the sequel at least was also ported to PS2. Braveknight: Leverant Eiyuuden looks to be an interesting dating-sim maybe rpgish sort of game. Also C.A.T. -Cyber Attack Team- looks like a cute, SRPG game. There seem to be a few Dreamcast to Xbox ports including Innocent Tears, and Rent-a-Hero No. 1.


I don't know about today, I was thinking about getting something useful done, but it hasn't really worked out that well. I got distracted by my Fm Towns Marty. I am planning to sell it like I mentioned, but the floppy disk drive is not working. This seems to be a fairly common problem with the drive belt wearing out. When I popped the top and checked the belt, it seemed obvious that was the problem, it was pretty loose feeling. Now I have to find a replacement which is turning out to be harder than I thought it would be. I cracked open a few floppy drives I had lying around but it looks like the old belt was done away with years ago in favor of what must be a more reliable mechanism. Unfortunate for me however as it seems I need to track down a replacement amongst hobbyists rather than the more accessible computer parts stores.


I'm feeling a little better now. Not quite as messed up feeling as I was, though I'm still having headaches now and then, sometimes when I wake up. I think I just got hit with a lot at once and I was not very healthy for a little while.

I wrote a letter to Microsoft yesterday I regards to the backward compatibility of the Xbox 360. I have not been following the drama, I know I heard about some guy from Microsoft saying people didn't care about backward compatibility or something. But I find myself now, owning a 360, over a year after release, and I can't play 2/3 of the games I own for Xbox on my 360. Just to remind them that I do care, and add myself to what is hopefully a growing list of dissatisfied people emailing them regularly, I decided to voice my opinion:

Dear Backward Compatibility Team,

Just wanted to send my regards concerning the backward compatibility of the Xbox 360 console. I was an early adopter of the Xbox 360 gaming system and one of the features that was a selling point for me was the backward compatibility. I have a decent library (over 25 games) for the original Xbox, with additional games I'd like to add to my collection. I got rid of my Xbox system anticipating being able to play most, if not all, of the games I own on my 360 system. I appreciate the recent updates that have made a few of the games I own playable games such as; Shenmue II, Soul Calibur 2, and Far Cry: Instincts. However, it is still only a handful of games, only 1/3 of my collection, that is playable on the 360. I understand that emulation is technically challenging, but I sincerely hope that the remainder of the games for the original Xbox are playable on the 360 in the near future. Whether or not it was promised that the entire library of games would be playable, it was the prevailing impression before the console was released. At least 2 of my friends who were also early adopters of the Xbox 360 got rid of their Xboxes, believing that they would still be able to play their original Xbox games on the new console. As of now, there is only a handful of games between us that are playable on the new system. We are all waiting eagerly for more, and hopefully all, titles to be playable on the 360 soon. Please don't allow the expectations that were nurtured in Xbox 360 adopters to go unfulfilled, and continue to support and expand backward compatibility on the Xbox 360.

If anyone reading this wants to add your own thoughts, please feel free to email backcomp@microsoft.com. I am not starting a petition, but I feel like it's a legitimate gripe that shouldn't go unvoiced.

In other gaming news, I have been translating more WtoPC. Finally finished the current blocks I have. Don't know where that leaves me in terms of completion, but I'll check on that. Just waiting for some more blocks from David right now. I should be taking a little vacation from work coming up in March and I plan to use some of the time to translate.

I've been filling up my 700GB array, or pretty much filled I should say. I went through and compressed some files and got rid of some duplicates freeing up about 70GB, but I'd gotten it filled up pretty good. I need to continue to do some sorting and testing, etc... I'm really happy to have the space and the data integrity.

I've gotten thinking about my game collection a bit. I love my PC-FX, Saturn, Dreamcast etc...But a number of my systems sit with out any use. I have too many, and too many games. I don't want to get rid of anything that I will regret, but I'm thinking that my Marty may be better appreciated in another's ownership. I certainly enjoyed finding it, but I've only ever had one game to play on it, and I've never been really confidant of what I was doing with it. I don't have much of a collection for it, nor do I really plan on building one. I think it's time to consider ebaying it and maybe using some of the money toward one of my systems that I get more enjoyment out of.

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