Okay, technically its four books. But its a oft’ overlooked tetralogy, so I’m grouping them together. Any true science fictions/fantasy fan should be aware of the works of Gene Wolfe (if you haven’t, put down your DnD dice and go weep in shame!). The Book of the New Sun is his masterwork; one of the greatest, most penetrating works of science fantasy ever penned in our time.
Set in the far flung future of Earth (called “Urth” by its inhabitants), society has degenerated into a pseudo-medieval system. Despite advances in technology, most of human wallows in poverty, the victims of oppression. The world’s resources are stagnant and depleting, due largely to the fading of the Sun–whose pallid light creates neither night nor day.
The story revolves around a young man named Severian, a child raised in the school of torturers. Trained in the art of execution and interrogation, he is set for a life in the Citadel, when fate throws him in a new direction and he begins a journey into the world.
Sun is a uniquely profound book. It is also very hard to read. I’m not going to lie to you, I often spent my time re-reading paragraphs. Wolfe does not pull any punches in his prose. He does not water down any descriptions, nor edit his work to appeal to the mass market. But that is what makes Sun a star among the endless predictable, shallow sci-fi novels written today. It is a wholly original work, steeped in Wolfe’s own personally inspirations, that will expand you vision of what is possible in literature. Science fiction and fantasy will never be the same for you.