Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Epiphany of the Long Sun (Long Sun 3 & 4)

Epiphany of the Long Sun: Calde of the Long Sun and Exodus from the Long Sun (Book of the Long Sun, Books 3 and 4)

Gene Wolfe

Date: 04 November, 2000   —   $12.57   —   Book

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Fiction, Speculative

The Book of the Long Sun should be read in its entirety, as the breaks in between books are almost arbitrary, and the entire action of the four-book series takes place in as little as two weeks. (The last few chapters are not given a defined timeline, but at most the books cover a few months.) The use of cant and liguistic mannerisms can be difficult to plow through, and the fact that the story progresses very slowly can be offputting. As with most of Wolfe's work, I'm going to have to read it a second time to catch what I missed.

And yet, for me at least, this was not a difficult read. The story flowed smoothly from point to point, from Patera Silk becoming caldé to his discovering the true purpose of the whorl and of the gods. There are a number of asides that hint at great mysteries, particularly in the meaning of conciousness when it is applied to chems - robots - with mutable memories, or when it is recorded by Mainframe, the great computer that is the heart of the Whorl. And somethings never are explained, such as why Silk is so good at what he does; there is just a hint that he might have been bioengineered as a fetus, but only if inferred from a general comment that such things were done, and applied to his apparently unprecidented abilities at unlearned swordplay, or at housebreaking.

Wolfe has never been one to fully explain anything. As with life, one does not know the ending, and the ending of the novel hints at the beginning of a new story entirely.

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