Gene Wolfe Book Club

This time of year, people often think of resolutions—things they want to change from how they did them last year. Never mind that the Gregorian calendar change is completely arbitrary (and not even necessarily the calendar that everyone uses) so you could declare a resolution at any point, at any time.

Regardless, I, too, get caught up in the resolution making. For the past few years (six or seven at least) I’ve resolved to average a book a week over the course of the year. For some this is slow, for others this is fast. For me, it was an aggressive pace, but one I felt I could easily achieve.

Oh how having responsibilities (like full-time work, or a family, or publishing a magazine, or blogging, or…you get the idea) proves you wrong.

If I got to 35 for the year, I was very happy with myself. And considering that median is nine books/year for women and five for men, I was doing pretty good. But it wasn’t the goal I had set out for myself.

This year, I read 53 books. There were some graphic novels, and some standalone novellas, but everything was published as a book so I counted it. I ended up reading three books over my holiday vacation so I could meet the goal. I was very proud in my accomplishment, and to celebrate I gave myself an even tougher goal for this year: read 12 books.

You see, these are no ordinary 12 books; these are the Solar Cycle by Gene Wolfe. The books are The Book of the New Sun [which is comprised of The Shadow of the Torturer, The Claw of the Conciliator, The Sword of the Lictor, and The Citadel of the Autarch], The Urth of the New Sun, The Book of the Long Sun [which is comprised of Nightside the Long Sun, Lake of the Long Sun, Caldé of the Long Sun, and Exodus From the Long Sun], and The Book of the Short Sun [which is comprised of Blue’s Waters, In Green’s Jungles, and Return to the Whorl]. These books are dense and complicated and full of mysteries and things to discover. And at 12 books, that means one a month, which I think is an attainable goal.

I was all set to post my resolution online, when I saw Hugo-nominated author Christopher Rowe make the same resolution. At that point, I had only resolved to “read my Gene Wolfe books” while Christopher made it more formal at one book a month. When I mentioned to him that I was making the same resolution, he strong-armed me into creating an online book club, since I’m a librarian and all that.

To that end, I’ve created—with the help of Mr. Rowe, Mark Teppo, and William Shunn—the Gene Wolfe Book Club. Our reasoning is that while the Solar Cycle books are fun to read on their own, discussing them with other people greatly enhances your reading. We also know that this book club is ambitious, but if we all pull together, I think we can do it. Even if you aren’t able to commit to all 12 books, but want to partake in the discussion, please come over and chat; the more the merrier.

We are looking for people to be moderators. We want to get enough people so that moderating isn’t a burden on any one person.

Open discussion of each book will begin on the 20th of the month in which it’s due. This month we have The Shadow of the Torturer open already in case people want to get started in their discussion. As of January 20, the discussion will begin in earnest. We are working from the current Tor/Orb editions that are in print, though some of us have other editions.


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