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On Blue's Waters (Book of the short sun) Paperback – 22 Nov 2000

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Product details

  • Paperback: 381 pages
  • Publisher: St Martin's Press; Reprint edition (22 Nov. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312872577
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312872571
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.2 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 655,759 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Gene Wolfe is the author of two dozen novels and hundreds of shorter stories. He is best known for the three multi-part series The Book of the New Sun, The Book of the Long Sun, and The Book of the Short Sun, as well as for the acclaimed duology, The Wizard Knight. Over his forty-year career, he has won the Nebula Award, the John W. Campbell Award, the World Fantasy Award, the British Science Fiction Award, the Locus Reader's Poll, the Rhysling (for poetry), and many others. In 1996, he was given a Lifetime Achievement Award by the World Fantasy Convention, and in 2007 he was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. He lives in Barrington, Illinois, with his wife Rosemary.

Product Description

About the Author

Gene Wolfe has been called "the finest writer the science fiction world has yet produced" by "The Washington Post." A former engineer, he has written numerous books and won a variety of awards for his SF writing.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 2 May 2001
Format: Paperback
Once again Gene Wolfe draws us into another series and another incredible world of his creation, through the uncertain and ultimately "human", voice of "Horn" who feels he can never measure up to our previous hero - Silk.

Horn is the disciple and the unreliable, but compelling narrator and protagonist of what are two separate stories, which are interwoven masterfully by Wolfe, who at the same time "pretends" to the reader that this is all just a stream of consciousness from Horn.

As well as two stories, we also get a continuous commentary on the difficulty of writing and of conveying any meaning in what is at best a subjective art - Horn is never sure who he is writing for or why, but he is compelled to continue and in the same way the reader becomes compelled to follow and whle we always know what the future ulimately holds, we still want to know how Horn gets there, what strange adventures he has on the way and more about the other characters.

Are the "inhuma" really evil, is the siren, human or part of another race, who is the "Mother" - can she really be a god or just an inexplicable relic of another alien species?

And most of all we want to know more about "Green", whose shadow, both literally and metaphorically hangs over the narrative and demands that we read the next in this series : "In Green's Jungles".

I defy anybody who reads this book not to buy the next installment!! I know I won't be able to resist.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By L. A. Powell on 4 May 2009
Format: Paperback
... because the day this man stops writing will be a truly sorry day for the world. I found the "Book of the Long Sun" initially a chore and much harder to get into than the "Book of the New Sun", and infinitely slower paced. Regardless I knew good things were to come, and it paid off, "Long Sun" was almost as superb as "New Sun".

There is no problem with pace with "Short Sun", from the moment I started it I was hooked. I won't go into detail because the other reviewers have summed it up splendidly. I just had to add my five stars. Brilliant.
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By Pb on 11 Feb. 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Arrived on times and well packaged. It does the job perfectly. Thanks.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 36 reviews
34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
Another intense, enigmatic story 2 Nov. 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Nobody can sneak up on a reader from behind like Gene Wolfe. Many writers can aspire only to devising plot twists, and unless they're very lucky the reader will see the suprise coming from miles away. Wolfe, by contrast, is perfectly capable of making revelations in the midst of his narrative, or near the end of it, that are profoundly shocking to your expectations.
And it's not merely the details of the plot that reader has to re-evaluate when Wolfe draws the curtain away like this; it extends to the most basic assumptions about the story, things that you believed settled on page 1, like "who's telling this story?" and "why are they telling it?" This author knows that the answers to these questions are the source of a novel's power to engage the mind and the emotions of the reader.
In this book, as in others, he's provided answers that are mobile. You may end up answering the questions differently at the end of the book than you would have when only halfway finished. And if you re-read the book again later, you may come up with yet a third set of answers.
Wolfe is admittedly not as easy to read as, say, Robert Jordan, but the rewards for reading Wolfe are on a different order of magnitude altogether. Somebody like Jordan lets you live for a short time in another world. Wolfe lets you live for a short time in another world, to discover that the real world has become larger when you return.
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Worth reading twice 28 July 2000
By Sean P. Melican - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I read this book the first time it came out, then I reread it when I receieved the second (In Green's Jungles)in the trilogy to refresh my memory.
Written as if it were an actual journal, the narrator describes his journey and its purpose: an odyssey across the oceans of the planet Blue to reach a spaceship that will return to the Whorl (a generation starship) to retrieve a god-like man named Silk, who is believed to be capable of saving the narrator's city from self-destruction. There are also the the events currently happening to the character, who is the Solomonesque Rajan (a type of ruler)of a people far from his native land. Both stories escalate in tension. During his odyssey (and I use this word deliberately), the narrator encounters a number of wonderfully drawn characters. There is the blind and probably crazy robot Maytera Marble and her 'granddaughter' Mucor, who is capable of sending her spirit across the whorl of Blue. (Both are characters from the Long Sun series; it is best to read Long Sun first, but not necessary.) When leaving the rock, the hero is joined by Mucor's loyal hus named Babbie, an eightlegged creature of enormous intelligence. Later, he will also encounter a mermaid and her goddess Mother and an inhumu, a vampire-like creature from Blue's twin planet Green.
Have you wondered why I haven't named the main narrator? That is because it is unclear exactly who he is. Ostensibly, it is Horn. Throughout, Horn describes physical changes that have occurred to him. He occasionally lapses into describing Horn in the third person. He also carries artifacts that at one time belonged to Silk, including a night chough and an azoth. It is likely that he is a least partially Silk, though that is unclear.
Running out of paper, the narrator quickly describes the climax of both stories, which are more cliffhangers than legitimate endings.
Throughout are references to his visit to the planet Green, which are tantalizingly vague but detailed enough to whet the appeptite for the next two books, and then there are the numerous references to his failure to find Silk. Yet if he is at least partially Silk as seems probable, then what happened on Green and did he reach the Whorl?
Like nearly all Wolfe novels, it demands an enormous amount of patience and focus on the reader's part. It is initially disorienting because it is the rambling thoughts of the narrator and because it is difficult to know exactly who he is; it is definitely worth a second and perhaps even a third reading. It is not a novel for readers who want those nine billion page pale Tolkien imitations; it is not a beach novel. If your definition of speculative fiction encompasses only the innumerable Star Trek paperbacks (and those terrible crimes against the wallet: the hardback novels), then this novel is not for you. It is a difficult read, but for the patient and careful reader it offers the pleasure of discovery and thoughtful analysis as well as the wonderful style we have come to expect from Wolfe. Sadly, while it will no doubt be enjoyed by the many Wolfe fans and perhaps a few other adventurous souls, it will largely be ignored by both the critics and the majority of readers. This is shameful, for this is likely to be one of the greatest American novels of the last hundred years.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Simply Superb 23 Oct. 1999
By Patrick O'Leary - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Gene Wolfe is a treasure. A true original. Authors hold him in awe. Readers fumble trying to express the magic of his work. Astounding stories, perfect craft, and a depth of emotional and philosophical courage that is nearly impossible to describe. Among its many delights and shocks, ON BLUE'S WATERS is perhaps the most moving portrait of a haunted man that I have ever read. Under the guise of a typical science fiction extended adventure series Wolfe is creating an entirely new thing: a meditation on the journey of faith and the search for truth refracted through a dazzling array of unforgettable characters. Why doesn't everyone know Gene Wolfe is the best writer alive today?
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
More Praise For This Modern Day Melville 3 Dec. 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Gene Wolfe has been hailed as a modern day Melville. No superlative is too great for this wonderfully gifted writer. He is also one of fictions best kept secrets. While other far less talented writers continue to grace best seller lists, Mr. Wolfe remains, despite having won numerous awards as well as the accolades of nearly all of his contemporaries, an almost unknown writer. Perhaps this is because Mr. Wolfe prefers to remain apart from those authors who write mere formula fiction. Mr. Wolfe writes what he is moved to write, perhaps choosing to ignore what publishers today claim audiences read; perhaps hoping that his audience will find him, as I found him many years ago after my first reading of The Book of the New Sun. Since that first reading I've lost count of how many times I've enjoyed the treasure those four books comprise. Mr. Wolfe writes with passion, his characters are wonderfully flawed, truly human, and his plots are character-driven. His language is at once simple, yet elegant. Certainly his work contains very little, if any, of what defines today's formula fiction. Alas, perhaps that is what keeps it from enjoying far greater acclaim.
On Blue's Waters is the latest creation from this gifted writer. On Blue's Waters, the first book of a trilogy, picks up twenty years after Exodus From the Long Sun (the finale of Mr. Wolfe's previous tetralogy). Horn (one of Silks former students) is the central character and narrator. He has been charged with returning to the long sun whorl - the gigantic spaceship that brought them to Blue - to find Silk and to persuade him to return to Blue and rule as Caldé. As do all of Mr. Wolfe's previous works, On Blue's Waters brims with wonder as Horn must find his way to the village of Pajarocu, where he must board one of the landers that brought the emigrants to their new world and return to the whorl on which he was born. Horn has many encounters along the way; he meets and falls in love with a woman from the sea - a siren - as well as one of the inhumi - strange creatures that feed on human blood. In return for saving Horn's life, Horn promises to allow the inhumu to accompany him on his journey back to the long sun whorl.
Since Horn is the narrator, On Blue's Waters takes on the flavor of a diary, with Horn's entries written to Nettle, his childhood sweetheart and wife, whom he left behind on Lizard, the island they chose to settle on when they first came to Blue. Strangely reminiscent of The Book of the New Sun, Horn, er, Mr. Wolfe populates On Blue's Waters with many similar thought-provoking little philosophical gems. Horn: "This short sun is well named; it speaks daily of the transitory nature of all it sees, drawing for us the pattern of human life, fair at first and growing ever stronger so that we cannot help believing it will continue as it began; but losing strength from the moment it is strongest." Horn again: "Time is a sea greater than our sea... Its tides batter down all walls, and what the tides of time batter down is never rebuilt. Not larger. Not smaller. Never as it was." Horn yet a third time: "To do nothing is a talent, one I have not got. I have known a few people who possessed it to a superlative degree, as one of my scribes here does. They can, if they wish, sit or even stand for hours without occupation and without thought. Their eyes are open and they see the whorl before them, but see it only as the eyes of potatoes do." Marvelous prose. As a writer myself, I can only hope to one day write something half as beautiful and meaningful.
On Blue's Waters will not disappoint those who have read Mr. Wolfe's previous books, and for those who have not, it will serve as a wonderful introduction to this most gifted writer. Mr. Wolfe, I look forward to the conclusion of this epic, and anxiously await your next masterpiece.
J. Conrad Guest
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Simply embarrassing that more people don't read Wolfe 11 Oct. 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I looked at my local Barnes and Noble. I drove to a Borders which was over 30 minutes away, betting that Borders would be better than B&N (typically, it is). I called the two local sci-fi specialty shops to see if they had it. None of the above had the new Wolfe book. It is terribly embarrassing. Orson Scott Card, who once was a fine writer and is now turning out drivel, has lots of shelf space. The Phanton Menace has lots of shelf. Even William Shatner, unconsciouly ironic in his latest, has space. What is going on? Is Wolfe too literate for people?
IN any event, you simply cannot continue living if you haven't read Wolfe. Start with the Torturer series; it and Dune represent the two best achievements of the genre. Then read the Calde series -- the prose is not as rich as the Torturer series, but the plot is more compelling. And then go buy this book, and pray Wolfe continues to write.
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