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On Blue's Waters (The Book of the Short Sun #1)

4.13 of 5 stars 4.13  ·  rating details  ·  993 ratings  ·  40 reviews
On Blue's Waters is the start of a major new work by Gene Wolfe, the first of three volumes that comprise The Book of the Short Sun, which takes place in the years after Wolfe's four-volume Book of the Long Sun. Horn, the narrator of the earlier work, now tells his own story. Though life is hard on the newly settled planet of Blue, Horn and his family have made a decent li ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published September 2nd 2000 by Tor Books (first published September 2nd 1999)
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The Shadow of the Torturer by Gene WolfeThe Claw of the Conciliator by Gene WolfeIn the Night Garden by Catherynne M. ValentePerdido Street Station by China MiévilleThe Scar by China Miéville
High Literary Fantasy
56th out of 115 books — 29 voters
The Name of the Wind by Patrick RothfussThe Meat Market by James ChalkThe Wise Man's Fear by Patrick RothfussBlood Song by Anthony  RyanThe Secret of Excalibur by Sahara Foley
First Person Fantasy Sci Fi
96th out of 167 books — 80 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,699)
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Perry Whitford
The first book in the final leg of Wolfe's defining work, the Solar Cycle odyssey, comprising no less than twelve books in total. And "odyssey" is the operative word here, because there is little question that Homer's epic poem forms the template for this narrative as Horn, the principle narrator of the preceding Book of the Long Sun, sets off to find the hero of that work, Patera Silk.
He travels across the waters of the planet Blue, encountering along the way a Circean witch, a cyclops and a su
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Christopher
On Blue's Waters is the first volume of Gene Wolfe's science fiction trilogy "The Book of the Short Sun". This trilogy is a follow-up to his four-volume "Book of the Long Sun", and both of these works take place in the same universe as his acclaimed tetralogy "The Book of the New Sun", all forming what is often referred to as the Solar Cycle. Before coming to this work, you should have read "The Book of the New Sun" and "The Book of the Long Sun" and my review will assume you have.

The basic plot
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Mark
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Althea Ann
I've all of the volumes of Wolfe's "Book of the New Sun," but none of the "Book of the Long Sun," which I believe is really intended to be read before this book (and its sequels).
I did intend on sometime getting around to the Long Sun. However, this one was on a birthday wishlist, so it got bumped up! And - it is an excellent book.
The story is science-fantasy - in a far future, humanity has left the artificial world known as the Whorl, and has recolonized two planets, Green and Blue. On the eart
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Alex
It's a struggle to review this book, in part because it comes with so much unfair baggage. The marketing suggests that the Long Sun and Short Sun novels are part of a "cycle" with the New Sun books, but the New Sun books are so radically different in tone, so comparatively immense and rich, the connection feels more like a gimmick to sell me books. Too bad, because Wolfe's works really deserve to be approached without this stuff.

Trouble is, space vampires and a siren designed for the ugly, dist
...more
Jeffrey
As the first book in a trilogy, that is loosely (very loosely) tied in with some 9 other books also from Gene Wolfe, this book has a heavy burden to let people get their feet wet without drowning. As I have read the other books, I can't fairly judge how well he pulled it off, but as the only set of Wolfe's books that I feel I'm starting to get a handle on, it must be more accessible than his others (or maybe just better hidden). I would suggest that part of the availability of the book is Wolfe' ...more
Scott
Once again, Gene Wolfe is blowing my mind. While this series is a continuation of his "Solar Cycle" and continues roughly 20 years after the "Book of the Long Sun", he's taken a different approach to the narration. The narrator, Horn, was a very minor character in the previous series. Now, having left the gargantuan starship on which he was born and lived for his early life, Horn has been living on one of two vastly different planets. One is the home of vampiric shape-shifters, and both bear the ...more
Fantasy Literature
Gene Wolfe has earned a reputation for writing novels that benefit from being read twice. His works are often complex and they do tend to reward careful reading, so much so that it’s not uncommon to hear prospective readers asking which of his Solar Cycle works is the easiest to read. Wolfe’s Book of the Short Sun trilogy is certainly not the place to start, but it is an otherwise fine finish to this distinguished cycle of stories that bridge the gap between fantasy and science fiction, and for ...more
John Lawson
Horn from the Long Sun trilogy finds his new home on Blue to be less than he hoped. It's people were disappointing, the conditions were harsh, and the teachings of Silk were being slowly distorted or forgotten. So he goes on a quest to find Silk and return him to New Viron. Along the way, he impersonates Silk, takes a detour to Green, and has lots of mermaid sex. Failure ensues.

That's not a spoiler, actually. The book is written as a memoir, the first of a trilogy, and he admits early on that he
...more
Jay Michaels
I was looking forward to reading this sequel to Gene Wolfe's "Earth of the Long Sun" 4-part series. Unfortunately, the narrative voice for the character of Horn verges on delirious (in the *bad* sense), and the perspective jumps back and forth between present and future time periods. ("Oh, wait, I haven't told you about that yet. Never mind, let me go down this other rabbit trail...")

It took me two whole weeks to get through 381 pages, so I don't think I'll continue with this series. My local l
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Elgin
I loved Wolfe's "Book of the New Sun" series and his "Book of the Long Sun" series. This is the first of the "Book of the Short Sun" series.
I was very disappointed by it...nowhere near the standards achieved in the other two series, so I doubt I will read the others in the series anytime soon.
This story did not really have a central theme other than relating the adventures of a traveller, and these adventures did not hang together in a coherent story. And one thing is HATE is authors who pretend
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Robert
Another strong showing from Gene Wolfe. The style is highly discursive, jumping from topic to topics, memory to memory, all filling in pieces as you go along. A worthy opening to the Long Sun series' sequel.
Janet
Oct 25, 2012 Janet added it
Shelves: fiction, sff, 2010, bookclub
This is the first book in 'The Book of the Short Sun', which follows 'The Book of the Long Sun'. I found the first 70 or so pages slow going, as they assumed a knowledge of the characters and setting that were in the previous series. However, it began to be interesting, and then became compelling. The story is told in flashbacks and digressions, with the narrator making retractions and corrections as he goes, which appeals to my love of an unreliable narrator.[return]The planet has gods and godd ...more
James Wilde
Complex. Intriguing. Gene Wolfe novels really stick in your head. His writing is vivid and cinematic, in the sense that I, at least, can think back through his novels and run them forward with full color details, images, feelings, and wonder.
Gary
Another Wolfe book to love. This one centering on Horn, the kid Silk stole the ball from as he had his enlightenment to kick off the long sun books. In that one act, Silk and Horn became bound and it becomes increasingly so. In this book, you'll find out what the inhuma's are. There are always weird Gods, strange vanished races, astral projecting waifs and animals that talk or bite that can be expected in any wolfe story along the way.

Horn is very amoral for a moral chap.
Kyra
Since this is the first book I read - I did not read the Long Sun series - it was ....ummm, challenging to figure out what the hell was going on. But that did add a layer of interest to it which I suspect might have been lacking otherwise, since there were obvious plot rehashes from previous books here and there which I would have found boring if I had read the Long Sun books.
Ponderous but well-written, fascinating protagonist. But slow as hell. Thus the three stars.
lowercase
the "short sun" series is probably among wolfe's most accessible works. although, like many of his other books, they are part of the same autarch omniverse he's created, they almost stand alone, and they're more purely science-fictional than his other efforts. the prose is still rich, the ideas are still startling, and the questions asked are still unanswered, but. for all that, this is wolfe at his most approachable.
Paul
I loved it. But of course, I loved all of Gene Wolf's books. This series comes aftr the Book of the Long Sun, and doesn't make a whole lot of sense without it. It spans three worlds, one human-made and two where humans have been trying to settle after a long long journey across the stars. HIs language is beautiful, though dense, and it brings together effortlessly fantasy, sci fi and horror into a cohesive whole.
Katie
Jul 14, 2007 Katie rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: scifi
Well.... it's the start of a new triology and the sequel to a tetrology and so it has a little bit of a split personality problem. Also the narrator seems to have some identity issues, leading me to reaffirm Wolfe's title as the Master of the Unreliable Narrator.
This book is a little slow, but better things are promised, and I'll reserve real judgement until then.
Theo Petersen
This one took me two tries, as the first time I sat down to read it I was not in the mood for its narrative structure -- a past tense story with many asides to the writer's present as well as allusions to events that haven't happened yet in the narrative. I liked it fine the second time, with all the usual Gene Wolfe weirdness.
Niall Mcauley
The first time I read this, I hadn't read The Book of the Long Sun, which made it both more and less confusing in different ways, so now I'm rereading it having read TBotLS, and there's a ton of stuff I didn't pick up on first time.

Excellent stuff either way.
Agnieszka
It's not as good as the New Sun books, but it's still Gene Wolfe, which is the sort of thing you'll like if you are into that sort of thing. Lots of philosophy again in the vein of what does it mean to be human, and of course ethics.
Paul Nash
Gene Wolfe is simply one of the best novelists we have -- read the entire series, as there are layers within layers, and a subtle, haunting quality that grows and develops as the story continues.
Rob
Another interesting an enticing read from Gene Wolfe! It required perseverance to start with, as it's written to such a different style. But it's well woth the effort.
Bob(by)
This was okay. The writing is high quality of course. Most all Gene Wolfe is. It just didn't hold my interest well and I barely finished it.
John
Not as good as his book of the long sun. Has a bit too much weird sexual content. Not graphic per se, but not relatable.
Rogerio Senna
Sad, filled with guilt and regret. Liked it. :-)

So distinct from the previous series. But very good nonetheless.
Shannon Appelcline
An equal to the New Sun. A dense and enthralling puzzle of a book with a terrific storytelling structure.
Steven
not as good as his long Sun series, a bit disjointed and confusing at times, but still earned. 4 stars
Robert
Gene Wolfe is one of the most literary fantasy/science fiction writers alive. He is remarkable.
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Gene Wolfe is an American science fiction and fantasy writer. He is noted for his dense, allusive prose as well as the strong influence of his Catholic faith, to which he converted after marrying a Catholic. He is a prolific short story writer and a novelist, and has won many awards in the field.

The Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award is given by SFWA for ‘lifetime achievement in science fict
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More about Gene Wolfe...

Other Books in the Series

The Book of the Short Sun (3 books)
  • In Green's Jungles
  • Return to the Whorl (The Book of the Short Sun, #3)
The Shadow of the Torturer (The Book of the New Sun #1) Shadow & Claw (The Book of the New Sun #1-2) Sword & Citadel (The Book of the New Sun, #3-4) The Claw of the Conciliator (The Book of the New Sun #2) The Sword of the Lictor (The Book of the New Sun #3)

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