The Bibliography of the New Sun

(a short guide, with opinions, by Raja Thiagarajan)

As far as I'm concerned, The Book of the New Sun is a single novel that, like The Lord of the Rings, was published in separate volumes for the convenience of the publisher. Certainly I defy anyone to argue convincingly that the volumes can be understood separately. (I'll avoid the obvious joke about whether they can be understood together.) The volumes are

  1. The Shadow of the Torturer
  2. The Claw of the Conciliator
  3. The Sword of the Lictor
  4. The Citadel of the Autarch

Interestingly enough, the Book is currently available in the form of two oversized softcover volumes, titled Shadow and Claw and Sword and Citadel -- changes in either publishing technology or marketing apparently permit longer books. (Would that they could be cheaper, too.) The two volumes are published by Tor/Orb; their ISBNs are 0-312-89017-6 and 0-312-89018-4 respectively. Both cost US$14.95.
(And now, the Science Fiction Book Club is finally publishing the Book in a single hardcover volume! We have ordered a few copies.)

Five years after he finished the Book, Wolfe wrote

which is a shorter (i.e., single-volume) sequel that continues Severian's narrative not long after the end of the Book. It was first published by Gollancz in the United Kingdom (even though Wolfe is an American author) and is currently available as an oversized softcover from Tor/Orb, ISBN 0-312-86394-2, US$14.95.

In April 1981, Locus reported "Gene Wolfe has completed the third novel in his current series, Sword of the Lictor, to be published by Simon & Schuster. He is working now on a fourth volume, Castle of the Otter." Locus got the last title wrong, but Gene Wolfe liked it, so he wrote

shortly after he sent the manuscript of The Citadel of the Autarch to his publisher. This is a collection of articles about the Book of the New Sun and how it came to be written, e.g., definitions of some of the obscure words from The Shadow of the Torturer, advice and opinions on writing, a defense of the idea of using cavalry in the future, and "These Are the Jokes," a set of humorous stories told by some of the major characters of the Book. (Concerning the last, Wolfe writes, "Although we may not find them amusing, they should at least supply us with some addition insights into life on Urth.") Castle was first published by Mark Ziesing, and later reprinted by the Science Fiction Book Club. It is currently available in the omnibus Castle of Days, which is an oversized softcover published by Tor, ISBN 0-312-89042-7, US$14.95.

John Clute is, in my opinion, the best critic working in science fiction today. Several of his articles about The Book of the New Sun were reprinted in his collection Strokes: Essays and Reviews 1966-1986. This was published a decade ago by a small press named Serconia; the hardcover edition is ISBN 0-934933-03-0, US$16.95; the oversized softcover is 0-934933-02-2, US$8.95.

In 1994, a small press named Sirius Fiction published a hardcover titled Lexicon Urthus, edited by Michael Andre-Driussi. It is subtitled "A Dictionary for the Urth Cycle," and it is a pretty good one. Not only does it cover terms used in The Book of the New Sun and The Urth of the New Sun, but also in associated shorter works ("The Boy Who Hooked the Sun", "Empires of Foliage and Flower," and "The Old Woman Whose Rolling Pin Is the Sun"). It is ISBN 0-9642795-9-2, US$39.95.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't point out that Gene Wolfe has also written a series called The Book of the Long Sun, starting in 1993. The volumes are

  1. Nightside the Long Sun
  2. The Lake of the Long Sun
  3. Caldé of the Long Sun
  4. Exodus from the Long Sun

which SF Discussion Group member Peter says are just as brilliant as the New Sun books. I haven't read the books yet, so I don't know how these books relate to the New Sun; what are your thoughts, Peter?

Forward to Peter's Definitions of Arcane Words found in The Shadow of the Torturer

Back to the SFDG Notes on The Shadow of the Torturer

Back to Specific Books discussed by the SFDG
Back to the SFDG Main Page