Forum Comments

Peace hype!
In Gene Wolfe
Trip Trap: Billy Goat 3
In Gene Wolfe
ComicMan
Jul 28, 2020
It is nice to see that Wolfe hit the ground running when he started his writing career, this is an incredibly story and I love how even at the very start you can see where he will go with his later writing years later. I got Storeys From The Old Hotel for my name day recently (fun fact: I share a name with an important biblical figure, which is how you know that I am actually a character from the Book of the New Sun) and I had to start with this story. Reading the 2 perspectives was really funny and interesting, especially about Finch trying to project himself as fierce while Garth says he was rather timid. Between the discussions that have already taken place I do not feel like I have a lot to add, just 1 thing perhaps. You guys say something along the lines that Wolfe is sympathetic to the good doctor's stance on nonviolence, and while I do not disagree with that necessarily I also think that is a bit too simple of a reading for my liking. I think that it is used to demonstrate the ignorance of Finch. He might come from a science fiction setting where war has been solved, but Garth is from a feudal fantasy setting where violence is never far away (he is coming home from a 3-year war and is directly sent into a new conflict with the implication that he might have to extort the tributes by force) so is it really fair to judge them for that? As mentioned in The Hero As Werewolfe discussion maybe his sympathies lie with the Wolves? There are a lot of reasons to read Wolfe, the puzzles, the catholic allusions, etc. but I think that it is important to realize that Wolfe is a very empathetic writer with his characters. The troll in this story was in my opinion not depicted as some unfathomable evil, but more as something to be pitied (this guy has lost everyone in his species, maybe his insanity is a good retreat for him). Characters are not really depicted as evil even when they are vile, they have an internal mechanism and can be understood if you put the effort in. This detail that is featured in one of the first stories in his writing career obviously comes back later. A lot of attention is drawn on the fact that Severian is an unreliable narrator, but when is he lying to make himself look good and when is he lying to himself because something happened that he cannot process? Same with the Soldier series, even if you remain as confused about the events as Latro as long as you manage to connect with him you got something out of the story (which is why I like Soldier of the Mist > 5th Head, there is something about being completely absorbed in Latro's perspective that is just wonderful). Anyways, great discussion you guys I am also happy to see how far you have come! Congrats on the 100 episodes and the AMA it was really fun!
0
0
The Hour of Trust
In Gene Wolfe
ComicMan
Jul 06, 2020
By my powers of being 9 months late, I resurrect this thread! Interesting discussion guys, I will admit I have had trouble squaring Wolfe's personal views with his writing. I mentioned before that I could see things in there that to me read critical of faith, which was obviously very important to Wolfe. I would also like to add that even if Wolfe believed X and got pretty political about it I think that he was definitely not a writer who preached and prescribed. Did he use the hippies as a boogeyman in this story? Possibly, but it is not something I even really considered before you guys brought it up because that is not what I got from it. Maybe he believed something, but once he has put it on the paper he is letting us engage with it. I think that adhering to the death of the author too faithfully is also a fallacy though, I think it is hard to entirely divorce a work of literature from who wrote it and what was going on in their environment. But forget for a moment what you know about Wolfe, are some of the calls to action (the old man asking the soldier whether they believe in anything) and the martyrs coming from the hippies' side? I know that you guys are actually looking at understanding Wolfe more through this chronological read, I am just bringing up a counter-argument. I would also like to echo the sentiments of China Mieville (a socialist) he says that 1. Wolfe has this tragico-catholic (afaik he coined that phrase? I like it) perspective that gives a very unsanitized view of the world (which I think is why he is so good at describing what are some of the wrongs with it), and 2. that even though there are authors he agrees with more he goes to Wolfe for the quality of the writing. Ultimately I agree with Mieville, I am not necessarily looking to Wolfe to tell me his political opinions because I have my own as well (I think he has some really interesting views though), and I think idolizing someone I really did not know is dangerous, but the quality of his writing speaks for itself. Having said that, one thing that strikes me as interesting is that over on /r/fantasy when people bring up conservative authors Gene Wolfe is quick to be mentioned. For me, this is odd because as I said his writing does not strike me as fundamentally conservative (fundamentally catholic, maybe), but something that both Wolfe and Tolkien find very important is stewardship, which can be seen in their environmentalism. That is a value that the American right has completely abandoned if it ever held them (I am not the most educated to speak on this). In my country, I would say that there are 2 major very Christian parties and one of them is a bit more to the left with environmentalism as a major concern while the other is very much to the right with much less regard for that. What I am getting at is that maybe Wolfe would have described himself in different terms if the culture around him was different, aligning yourself with just 2 viable parties seems very difficult to me. With that out of the way, I will be honest this story didn't connect with me on an emotional level very much. Admittedly I was a bit distracted while reading it, but I just found the characters (other than Tredgold) to be quite dull. Your discussion is what kinda saved it for me on an enjoyment level, the themes, and how prescient the story is I liked on my read through. Honestly, I have no clue what is going on with the immolations or the ending, your readings are ones I can believe. I will vehemently disagree with you guys on one thing though, the epigraph was awesome! Now onto Tracking Song for a more topical discussion since you guys are almost finished covering it. Also, can I just say that I am very much looking forward to sharing my thoughts about the Fifth Head of Cerberus, and starting Peace when you get to it?
1
0
The Death of Dr. Island
In Gene Wolfe
ComicMan
Apr 28, 2020
Oh wow, I was just here listening to an episode when the notification popped up. Yeah, I think what you guys are doing is interesting, but a bit hard to follow along since the collections that these short stories are not so much concerned about when each story was written and I did not want to buy multiple volumes before finishing at least one. Even within the Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories and Other Stories which focuses on the 70s the stories themselves are (for me at least) in no discernible order. Once I finish this collection I am definitely interested in either Storeys from the Old Hotel or Castle of Days (for the Days part, since I am not done with BotNS yet). I do think that what you guys is doing by examining his works in chronological order is interesting, and I have definitely noticed some things in earlier works that come back later and it is helpful to have someone like you guys keeping track of all these things as we go along. And yeah, I am glad I read Paper Tigers after this, as you saw I commented on that thread first because I needed time to gather my thoughts on this one (as well as listen to the episodes since this was longer). Right now, I am starting the second novella in the Fifth Head of Cerberus so that is going to be interesting! You guys definitely do refer back to this one quite a bit and I have found the first story to be really engaging. After this I will go on with Hours of Trust and Tracking Song as well as continuing Claw/Arete depending on my mood. I realize what I am doing is a bit hectic, but I am having a good time right now :)
0
Hero As A Werewolf (Recap)
In Gene Wolfe
ComicMan
Apr 16, 2020
I just had time to listen to the discussion episode by the way. It was great, you guys brought up a lot of interesting things that I did not even think about. I think it is absolutely true that the wonder of this story is in the world building. You guys made some excellent remarks (such as the wolves/humans being kept around for population control), but I think you can go even further than that. Later on there are the ghost houses, and you guys say they might have "cured" Paul if he had not escaped, I started thinking and that does not line up with the population control reading. But it seems possible for me that those ghost houses might actually be for the masters. Maybe Paul would have been let go if he had not jumped through the window, maybe the masters didn't even expect to catch a human at all? We don't get all the details but they seemed pretty lax in security, and later on when Paul/Janie get caught again the narration of the scientist kinda makes sense from the perspective of the masters (as in: "let me tell you something you should already know"). So if the masters are still practicing eugenics then it could be that they were doing this with the use of the humans, and now since there are few of them left they have employed new methods too. That was something that I thought about during this episode, I do not 100% stand by that reading or anything, you could definitely poke some holes in it but it is at least nice food for thought. This story is very interesting because Wolfe throws so many little ideas in there and it is hard to make sense of all of them together and you will come up with 2 conflicting things that both make sense on their own.
1
ComicMan
More actions