Gene Wolfe

Gene Wolfe is one of the noteworthy American authors, who has written some of the highly successful books in the fantasy and science fiction genres. He is particularly famous for his allusive and dense prose and the strong influence of the Catholic faith, which are often seen in his writings. Author Wolfe is also a prolific writer of short stories. Being one of the well known novelists has helped him to win a number of science fiction and fantasy literary awards. Author Wolfe’s most famous literary work is ‘The Book of the New Sun’ which consists of 4 volumes and forms a part of his long running science fiction series, called as the Solar Cycle. The Locus magazine ranked the book as the 3rd best fantasy novel in the year 1998, based on a subscribers’ poll. Author Wolfe was born on May 7, 1931 as Gene Rodman Wolfe. His birth took place in New York City, New York, United States. The parents of author Wolfe were Emerson Leroy Wolfe and Mary Olivia. As an infant, he suffered from Polio, but got cured with timely medication and the passage of time. After the completion of school studies, author Wolfe joined the A & M University in Texas. Soon, he wrote a published a speculative fiction novel in a student literary journal called as The Commentator. Following that, author Wolfe took a drop from junior year and went on to serve in the Korean War. After the end of the war, he returned back to the United States and earned a degree from the Houston University.

Wolfe began his career working as an industrial engineer. Later, he became a senior editor of the journal called Plant Engineering and held the post for many years. After years tiring physical work as an industrial engineer, author Wolfe decided to retire and become a full time author. The most famous achievement of Wolfe in professional engineering is a contribution in making a machine that is used to make potato chips at Pringles. Previously, author Wolfe used to live in Barrington, Illinois, Chicago, along with his wife named Rosemary. Later in the year 2013, he shifted to Peoria, Illinois. His health has always been a concern for him as he to undergo a double bypass surgery as well as a cataract surgery. His wife died in the year 2013 due to Alzheimer’s disease and several other illnesses. Author Wolfe loved his wife very much and has once said about her disease that she did not use to remember his name or the fact that the two were married to each other, but she always used to remember that she loved him.

Wolfe believes that he was very much influenced by the successful works of the prominent novelists like Charles Dickens, Geoffrey Chaucer, Jack Vance, George Orwell, Herman Melville, Vladimir Nabokov, Lewis Caroll, J.R.R. Tolkien, Borges, G.K. Chesterton, Herbert Wells, and many others. Due to this, he also decided to become a writer and write science fiction books. The first book that he wrote was published as a paperback original titled ‘Operation Ares’. The book that helped author Wolfe receive critical attention for the first time is known as ‘The Fifth Head of Cerberus’. This book was translated into French and German languages later in the same year of its publication. However, his highly regarded and best known work is ‘The Book of the New Sun’. This novel is set in a bleak and distant future and is inspired by the novel, Dying Earth by author Jack Vance. One of the volumes of this novel helped author Wolfe win the Nebula Award in the category of the Best Novel. During the 1990’s, he began writing full time after retiring from his engineering position. The literary career of author Wolfe also comprises of some standalone books, which were released subsequently along with his science fiction books.

One of the well known novel series written by author Gene Wolfe is titled as ‘The Wizard Knight’. It contains two books in total which were released in the year. The first book of his series was published under the title ‘The Knight’ It was released by the Tor Fantasy publication. The opening plot of the book shows that a young man is transported to a magical realm consisting of 7 reality levels. He gets transformed into a grown man with the help of magic very quickly. After having received heroic proportions, he names himself Able and goes on the quest to search the sword that was promised to him. He knew that the sword was made from a special blade which will help him to fulfill the ambitions of his life, that is to become a true hero and a knight. Able comes to know that he has to come across a dragon for getting the special sword. In spite of all the special powers, Able still remains a teenager from inside. He is required to grow in every respect in order to survive the delights and dangers that lie in his path. During his journey, he will have to face wizards, giants, dragons, and elves. Therefore, he has to develop all his skills in order to win over these dangerous creatures.

The next installment of this series was released under the title ‘The Wizard’. It was once again published by the Tor Fantasy publishers in the year 2004. At the beginning of this book, it is depicted that Able rises to the rank of Sir and returns back Mythgathr by riding on the steed Cloud. This time, he appears to be filled with the new knowledge of the customs and ways of the 7 fold world as well as possessed with some magical secrets of greater importance. With his knighthood having grown beyond question, Sir Abe seems all fit to fulfill the vows that he had made to his king, his friends, his lover, his gods, as well as to the enemies. Now, Sir Able is required to restore the proper order of his world and set it right once again. He also has to restore the faith among the citizens of the 7 worlds. Overall, The Wizard appears to be a riveting, charming, and filled with a lot of emotions. It appears to be a story full of wonders, written in a beautiful manner by author Wolfe. The success of this book helped author Wolfe to establish himself as one of the noteworthy authors as well as earn the title of ‘a national treasure’.

Books published in order by series:

Urth: Book of the New Sun Books

The Shadow of the Torturer(1980) 
The Claw of the Conciliator(1980) 
The Sword of the Lictor(1982) 
The Citadel of the Autarch(1982) 
The Urth of the New Sun(1987) 

Soldier Of The Mist Books

The Soldier of the Mist(1986) 
The Soldier of Arete(1989) 
Soldier of Sidon(2006) 

Urth: Book of the Long Sun Books

Nightside the Long Sun(1993) 
Lake of the Long Sun(1994) 
Calde of the Long Sun(1994) 
Exodus from the Long Sun(1996) 

Urth: Book of the Short Sun Books

On Blue’s Waters(1999) 
In Green’s Jungles(2000) 
Return to the Whorl(2001) 

Wizard Knight Books

The Knight(2004) 
The Wizard(2004) 

Standalone Novels

Operation Ares(1970) 
The Devil in a Forest(1976) 
Free Live Free(1984) 
There Are Doors(1988) 
Pandora by Holly Hollander(1990) 
Pirate Freedom(2007) 
An Evil Guest(2008) 
The Sorcerer’s House(2010) 
Home Fires(2011) 
The Land Across(2013) 
A Borrowed Man(2015) 

Short Stories


Short Story Collections

The Fifth Head of Cerberus(1972) 
In the Wake of Man: A Science Fiction Triad(1975) 
The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories(1980) 
Plan(e)t Engineering(1984) 
Gene Wolfe’s Book of Days(1985) 
For Rosemary(1988) 
Storeys from the Old Hotel(1988) 
Endangered Species(1989) 
Castle of Days(1992) 
Young Wolfe(1992) 
Strange Travelers(2000) 
Innocents Aboard: New Fantasy Stories(2004) 
Starwater Strains(2005) 
The Very Best of Gene Wolfe: A Definitive Retrospective of His Finest Short Fiction(2009) 

Non-Fiction Books

The Castle of the Otter(1982) 
Letters Home(1991) 
A Walking Tour of the Shambles(2002) 
Gate of Horn, Book of Silk: A Guide to Gene Wolfe’s The Book of the Long Sun and The Book of the Short Sun(2012) 
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