Gene Wolfe (1931 – )

Gene Wolfe (born May 7, 1931) is an American science fiction and fantasy writer.

He is noted for his dense, allusion-rich prose as well as the strong influence of his Catholic faith, which he adopted in marrying a Catholic. He is a prolific short story writer as well as a novelist, and has been nominated for the Hugo Award, Nebula Award, and World Fantasy Award multiple times.

Wolfe fought in the Korean War and after returning to the United States became an industrial engineer. For many years he edited the engineering review "Plant Engineering" before retiring to write full-time. (One little known engineering achievement of Wolfe is that he is the co-inventor of the machine used to make Pringles potato chips).

His best-known and best-regarded work is the multi-volume The Book Of the New Sun, set in a distant future and detailing the life of Severian, an apprentice torturer, as he ultimately becomes a messiah. The work is composed of the novels The Urth Of the New Sun (1987) wrapped up some loose ends but is generally considered a separate work.

In the 1990s, Wolfe published two more works in the same universe as The Book of the New Sun. The first, The Book of the Long Sun, consists of the novels Return To the Whorl (2001), and deals with the colonists who have arrived on the planets Blue and Green. These three works, The Book of the New Sun, The Book of the Long Sun, and The Book Of the Short Sun form an oeuvre often called the Solar Cycle.

Although not a best-selling author, Wolfe is extremely highly regarded by critics and fellow writers, and considered by many to be one of the best living science fiction authors. His fans regard him with considerable dedication, and one Internet mailing list dedicated to his works has amassed six years and thousands of pages of discussion and explication; similarly much analysis and exegesis has been published in fanzine and small-press form (e. g. Lexicon Urthus). The writers Neil Gaiman and Patrick O'Leary have both credited Wolfe for inspiration.

One of Wolfe's most common tropes is the unreliable narrator. Sometimes this is a person who isn't particularly smart (Soldier In The Mist) or naive (Pandora by Holly Hollander, The Knight). While the casual reader won't detect the unreliability of the narrator and may become quite confused, the careful reader can find a deeper layer of the story. Therefore, it might be said that Wolfe does not write for readers, but for re-readers.

Books by Gene Wolfe