Best 1993 Adventures (3)
July 3, 2020
One in a series of 10 posts identifying Josh Glenn’s favorite 1993 adventure novels.
Gene Wolfe’s science fantasy adventure The Book of the Long Sun (1993–1996).
A sequel of sorts to the author’s better-known, award-winning Book of the New Sun tetralogy (1980–1983), this four-volume epic is a rich, complex religious allegory. Nightside the Long Sun (1993), Lake of the Long Sun (1994), Caldé of the Long Sun (1994), and Exodus from the Long Sun (1996) recount the struggles of Patera Silk, a Moses- and Christ-like parish augur, to lead his people out of a false world and into a real one. The first volume sees Silk attempting to protect his impoverished manteion by breaking into the mansion of the crime lord Blood, who has purchased the manteion; it’s a Father Brown-esque crime adventure of sorts, set within a world whose lineaments are at first confusing. The second volume is an espionage adventure, of sorts… in which Silk explores his labyrinthine world (“Whorl”) and begins to learn its shocking secrets. An armed rebellion consumes the third volume, a war story; will Silk become the titular caldé — his city-state’s leader? The final volume, a utopian narrative, explores a matriarchal society that seems to offer a peaceful alternative to Silk’s own patriarchal oligarchy. In the end, however, the Whorl cannot be redeemed; it’s a prison… Silk must help his followers find their way out of it. Perhaps not as gripping as the Book of the New Sun, but what an achievement!
Fun facts: Writing about the Book of the New Sun series, Thomas M. Disch asked us to “imagine a Star Wars–style space opera penned by G.K. Chesterton in the throes of a religious conversion.”
JOSH GLENN’S *BEST ADVENTURES* LISTS: BEST 250 ADVENTURES OF THE 20TH CENTURY | 100 BEST OUGHTS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST RADIUM AGE (PROTO-)SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TEENS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TWENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST THIRTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST GOLDEN AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FORTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FIFTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SIXTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST NEW WAVE SCI FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SEVENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST EIGHTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST DIAMOND AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST NINETIES ADVENTURES (in progress) | 1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | NOTES ON 21st-CENTURY ADVENTURES.