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Date: Thu, 30 May 2002 10:40:47 -0700
From: Michael Andre-Driussi 
Subject: (urth) a Wolfe-spectrum, focus on TBOTSS

There does not seem to be any objection to the basic notion of
"Wolfe-lite," nor to the placing of PANDORA BY HOLLY HOLLANDER as the
ultimate example of Wolfe-lite.

The contrast to Wolfe-lite would be Wolfe, or Wolfe-baroque, or
Wolfe-heavy, I guess.  I think people tend to take TBOTNS as the benchmark,
but it isn't really an endpoint for everyone, I don't think.  Other Wolfe
books will therefore fall within the spectrum between PANDORA and TBOTNS,
and some might be placed beyond TBOTNS.

For example, where to place 5HC?  While it is physically shorter than
TBOTNS, I think it is actually harder.  Our spectrum does not account for
"difficulty," per se, but we can accomodate it to do so, I think, and put
5HC as the solid step of Wolfe-heavy beyond TBOTNS.

Now then, another personal annecdote that I've probably already used to
death around here: iirc, when Gene Wolfe told me, in person, about his plan
to do a trilogy called "The Book of the Short Sun," he said specificly that
it would be in the hard-on-the-reader style of 5HC.  (In hindsight this is
especially dramatic when some readers of TBOTLS were clearly calling it
Wolfe-lite, disappointed that it did not match the baroque stylings of the
Urth Cycle.)

So he had 5HC as a model in mind.  That many readers have seen similarities
between 5HC and TBOTSS is therefore a confirmation of authorial intent in
this regard being received by readers through the text.

It may well be the case that readers who do not much like 5HC will like
TBOTSS even less.  In other words, TBOTSS likely trumps 5HC in heaviness,
and people who are most confortable with, say, the spectral segment of the
Soldier series and the Urth Cycle, will not like TBOTSS.

We see today arguments over 5HC, a work published decades ago.  Many of the
same negative things said about 5HC seem to be said about the much more
recent/less digested TBOTSS as well.  Readers who dislike one or the other
or both feel that it is pointlessly complicated; that Wolfe is finally
cheating; that things don't add up; that solid, non-fuzzy solutions cannot
be sorted out; et cetera.  It might be that in general the same root
problems between these texts and their grumpy readers are the same.

At the other end of the Wolfe spectrum, it could be that KNIGHT WIZARD will
trump PANDORA in liteness.


booklets on Gene Wolfe, John Crowley
Lexicon Urthus out of print!


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