by Gene Wolfe. I had never heard of the author or the series before, but I picked up one of those in-flight magazines on an airplane and it had a feature of 16 of the best science fiction novels ever. The list went like this: The Time Machine--Wells The Foundation Trilogy--Asimov Childhood's End--Clarke The Stars My Destination--Alfred Bester Stranger in a Strange Land--Heinlein The Man in the High Castle--Dick Dune--Herbert Dangerous Visions--Harlan Ellison The Left Hand of Darkness--Ursula Le Guin Dying Inside--Robert Silverberg Helliconia Spring--Brian Aldiss The Book of the New Sun--Gene Wolfe Neuromancer--Gibson Hyperion--Simmons and then two anthologies. Anyway, the little summary for BOTNS read like this: "Being SF's most literary, and in some ways most religious, masterpiece, the multi-part novel by Wolfe feels more like fantasy, with strange and shadowy landscapes, aging and immense buildings, arcane and poetic language. Yet it is science fiction of the highest order, a tale of a young man's progress through an astoninghingly evolved landscape, populated by strange beasts and intricate cultures. Set so far in the future that the sun itself is dim, Wolfe's book requires careful reading, but rewards you on every page. It is currently available oin two volumes: Shadow and Claw and Sword and Citadel. Well, the part about being set super far in the future got me intrigued, so I picked up Shadow and Claw. It is really, really good. It is written in first person and unfolds kind of like a mystery, kind of like fantasy, and kind of like an anthropological study on weird, alien (not necessarily in the extraterrestrial sense) shit way in the future. That last bit, to me, is the most intriguing and compelling part. To imagine that at some point in the future there may be cultures who mine the Earth for incredibly ancient artifacts and live among the ruins of far future civilizations, artifacts and ruins that to people in 2005 are still tens of thousands of years in the future. . well, that is enough to draw me in to the series totally. Only drawbacks, if you want to call them that, are that it is slow-reading and the vocabulary is sometimes really obscure. Sometimes I had to reread passages 3 or 4 times to feel like I 'got' it. Also, are a lot of very unfamiliar words which will require you to look them up even if you got 800 on the verbal part of your SATs. That is, of course, assuming your dictionary has words like 'dimarche' and 'sabretache'. The payback for this difficulty is that the story and effort is really rewarding. It reminds me of when I read The Sound and the Fury for the first time. I felt almost as if I was sleepwalking through the book. A second reading and I realized that it was probably one of the best books I'd ever read at the time (11th grade). I am convinced that a re-reading of BOTNS will be even better than the first, always a sign of good literature.