Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Never Would've Guessed...Gene Wolfe

Thanks to Matt for sharing this one. I took the HelloQuizzy Which Fantasy Writer are You? test last night.

Your result for Which fantasy writer are you?...

Gene Wolfe (b. 1931)

1 High-Brow, 19 Violent, 3 Experimental and -3 Cynical!

Congratulations! You are High-Brow, Violent, Experimental and Romantic! These concepts are defined below.

US author Gene Wolfe is a very typical example of the kind of writer who is more appreciated by critics and, above all, other writers, than by the wider public. Science fiction writer Michael Swanwick has, for example, dubbed Gene Wolfe the greatest writer in the English language alive today. However, Wolfe's novel in four parts, The Book of the New Sun (1980-83), is widely known and considered a classic within both fantasy and science fiction (the book is generally considered fantasy although it is actually set in a distant future, where some technology may seem like magic to the novel's characters).

Wolfe, a veteran of the Korean war, is un-afraid of describing the fear and violence caused by warfare and the protagonist of his most well-known piece of fiction is a torturer, who at one time openly defends the importance of his work.

Wolfe is well-known for his stylistic excellence, often using first person narration in a masterful way. His narrators are often unreliable, for different reasons, sometimes leaving it up to the reader to read between the lines and figure out what's really going on.

Being a "literary" author, one of those few writers whose books it's worth the time and effort of reading more than once, does not stop Wolfe from being a great storyteller who is quite able to create all the magic and page-turning suspence of a typical best-selling writer. Much of this might stem from Wolfe's empathy with his characters and his almost religious commitment to his worlds. Several critics have pointed out the influence of Wolfe's strong Roman Catholic faith to his fiction.

No fantasy fan should go through life without having at least tried to read Wolfe. There are few writers who manage to put imagination back into the word fantasy like he does.

You are also a lot like Mary Gentle.

If you want something more gentle, try Tove Jansson.

If you'd like a challenge, try your exact opposite, Robert Jordan.

Your score

This is how to interpret your score: Your attitudes have been measured on four different scales, called 1) High-Brow vs. Low-Brow, 2) Violent vs. Peaceful, 3) Experimental vs. Traditional and 4) Cynical vs. Romantic. Imagine that when you were born, you were in a state of innocence, a tabula rasa who would have scored zero on each scale. Since then, a number of circumstances (including genetical, cultural and environmental factors) have pushed you towards either end of these scales. If you're at 45 or -45 you would be almost entirely cynical, low-brow or whatever. The closer to zero you are, the less extreme your attitude. However, you should always be more of either (eg more romantic than cynical). Please note that even though High-Brow, Violent, Experimental and Cynical have positive numbers (1 through 45) and their opposites negative numbers (-1 through -45), this doesn't mean that either quality is better. All attitudes have their positive and negative sides, as explained below.

High-Brow vs. Low-Brow

You received 1 points, making you more High-Brow than Low-Brow. Being high-browed in this context refers to being more fascinated with the sort of art that critics and scholars tend to favour, rather than the best-selling kind. At their best, high-brows are cultured, able to appreciate the finer nuances of literature and not content with simplifications. At their worst they are, well, snobs.

Violent vs. Peaceful

You received 19 points, making you more Violent than Peaceful. Please note that violent in this context does not mean that you, personally, are prone to violence. This scale is a measurement of a) if you are tolerant to violence in fiction and b) whether you see violence as a means that can be used to achieve a good end. If you are, and you do, then you are violent as defined here. At their best, violent people are the heroes who don't hesitate to stop the villain threatening innocents by means of a good kick. At their worst, they are the villains themselves.

Experimental vs. Traditional

You received 3 points, making you more Experimental than Traditional. Your position on this scale indicates if you're more likely to seek out the new and unexpected or if you are more comfortable with the familiar, especially in regards to culture. Note that traditional as defined here does not equal conservative, in the political sense. At their best, experimental people are the ones who show humanity the way forward. At their worst, they provoke for the sake of provocation only.

Cynical vs. Romantic

You received -3 points, making you more Romantic than Cynical. Your position on this scale indicates if you are more likely to be wary, suspicious and skeptical to people around you and the world at large, or if you are more likely to believe in grand schemes, happy endings and the basic goodness of humankind. It is by far the most vaguely defined scale, which is why you'll find the sentence "you are also a lot like x" above. If you feel that your position on this scale is wrong, then you are probably more like author x. At their best, romantic people are optimistic, willing to work for a good cause and an inspiration to their peers. At their worst, they are easily fooled and too easily lead.

Author picture from Click the link for license info.

Take Which fantasy writer are you?
at HelloQuizzy

High-Brow 1: Yep, just barely. I'd guess this is true in many things, not just fiction. At my best, cultured and at my worst, a snob. Probably not too far off, honestly. A score of 1 indicates that I am the "lowest brow" High-Brow possible. Sort of like being the last gentleman initiated into the Gentlemen's Club. I'd like to think I can rub elbows with both sides of the fence.

Violent 19: No surprise here. I'd suspect that most D&D fans lean to this side of the Violent vs Peaceful scale. At my best, the vengeful Hero and at my worst, the Villian. A score of 19 on this scale is my strongest lean of the test. I do indeed prefer a story involving the Hero kickin' arse.

Experimental 3: Readers might be surprised based on my preference for all things downright ancient in this day and age (classic D&D, 70s Punk), but I'd think anyone with these sorts of tastes would have an Experimental lean, even if mine is a slight one. I know I've progressed in Traditional values as I have in years. At my best, forward thinking and at my worst, a provocateur.

Romantic 3 (Cynic -3): At my best, optimistic and at my worst, gullible. This is dead-on for me. Just ask Mrs. Sham who thinks I'm a terrible bargain hunter. I do trust in the greater good of mankind, and believe in the human spirit; that despite the odds we shall persevere. Again, just a slight lean here. Like the Experimental vs Traditional scale, I know my leaning has changed as I've matured. I was far less Cynical as a youth.

The fact that my test result was Gene Wolfe was a bit of a surprise. I truly enjoyed Wolfe's New Sun books, and thanks to this quiz I'll likely dust them off and read them again. It's been far too long since I've followed the exploits of Severian, former torturer and future Autarch of Urth. Gene Wolfe's novels are considered a part of the Dying Earth subgenre named after one of my favorite author's works, Jack Vance. Per the New Sun wiki:

The New Sun series belongs to the Dying Earth subgenre, a kind of science fiction/fantasy set in a distant future when the Sun is dying, set against a background of mysterious and obscure powers and events.

So again, thanks to Matt for leading me to this thought provoking test!

~Sham, Quixotic Referee


JimLotFP said...

I got Michael Moorcock:

"Congratulations! You are High-Brow, Violent, Traditional and Cynical! These concepts are defined below."

15 High-Brow, 21 Violent, -29 Experimental and 25 Cynical

Anonymous said...

Interesting. I got a copy of Book of the New Sun as a present years ago, but never read it. Recently I read Wolfe’s Knight and Wizard and really enjoyed them (just in the middle of a re-read, actually). I’ll have to dig out BotNS next! BTW, have you read the Wizard Knight books?

Ben O. said...

I got J.K. Rowling.

-23 High-Brow, -1 Violent, -23 Experimental and -17 Cynical

I'm almost the polar opposite of JimLotFP, it would seem...but this result is definitely accurate.

Sham aka Dave said...

Jim: You beat me on the cool factor. I've always enjoyed seeing Moorcok's evolution as a writer, but based on things like the Cornelius Chronicles I'm somewhat shocked such a low Experimental score would be associated with his work. Then again this is most likely based on his more traditional Elric tales.

Shimrod: I think some find Wolfe difficult to read/follow. It's not bubble-gum literature. I hope you enjoy them. I have not read the Wizard Knight books. Should I?

Ben: J.K. Rowling. Interesting results! Both you and Jim are Traditional, though (based on this test only, that is).

This is one of the better tests of its kind I've taken. Looking at others' scores I can see I'm somewhat middle-of-the-road with no scores over 20 and only one more than 3 away from center. Meh.

Chad Thorson said...

I also got Gene Wofe!

Highbrow 87%, Violent 89%, Experimental 64%, Cynical 13% (I thought this should've been higher)

Chad Thorson said...

Sorry it should've read HB 21, V 19, Ex 11, C -3

Anonymous said...

I got Gene Wolfe, too. Cool - he's one of my favorite authors.

Michael Curtis said...

Apparently, I'm a cynical, British, aethist with a penchant for polar bears because I'm Philip Pullman.

21 High-Brow, -11 Violent, 13 Experimental and 11 Cynical!

Sham aka Dave said...

Atom Kid & Philotomy: It seems I am in good company! I'll be hunting my four New Sun books down when I get home.

Mike: a cynical, British, aethist with a penchant for polar bears.

LOL. I didn't recognize the author by name, but I knew what famous book he wrote based on your sentence.

I'm wondering if anyone got Stephen R. Donaldson or Piers Anthony yet. I think Vance predates the "starting point" of 1954-55 for this test, so we won't see him nor my favorite pulp writers.

Timeshadows said...

We were taking that quiz over at Mike Moorcock's site, too, and I am also Gene Wolfe-ish.

He is my favourite author, so that works out nicely.

Anonymous said...

Sweet! I totally agree with you, this was one of the better quiz-thingies I've seen in a long time.

P.S. Blog-O-Bet Part II this summer?


Sham aka Dave said...

P.S. Blog-O-Bet Part II this summer?

That's a grand idea, Matt. We can agree on a theme and a bet beforehand if you like this time (rather than the somewhat poorly considered 10x10 room with an Orc and a chest of Gold in it).

Send me an email if you get an idea, and I'll do the same.

Sham aka Dave said...

Timeshadows: I should've said I was pleasantly surprised, rather than just surprised a bit when Wolfe was my answer. Wolfe is on the short list of fiction authors I wish I could write like.

I want to also thank you for linking up Micjael Moorcock's site on your blog. I've got even more reading to do now.

Anonymous said...

Knight and Wizard are outstanding. Highly recommended.

Sham aka Dave said...

Knight and Wizard are outstanding. Highly recommended.

Thanks, Shimrod. I will check it out!

Timeshadows said...

@ Sham AKA Dave,

I do my part! :D

My degree of Gene Wolfishness:

* 9 High-Brow, 11 Violent, 21 Experimental and -3 Cynical!

Sham aka Dave said...

Timeshadows: Hmm..the common themes of the scores for you, me and Atom Kid (three Wolfe-ish folks, not sure what Philotomy got) are + High-Brow, + Violent, + Experimental, and exactly 3 Romantic. Bah, it's better I don't delve too deeply into the number patterns. It's a fun quiz regardless.

Anonymous said...

I got Moorcock. A bit shocked by that, but my numbers were pretty middling.

Sham aka Dave said...

Lord Kilgore: Moorcock's body of work is difficult to label. If we look only at his most popular (early, pulpy Elric) I think we do him a disservice. I'm not suggesting you do that, nor am I suggesting you were shocked in a bad way! Interesting that your numbers were middling, while the other Moorcock dude's (Jim's) were not. There I go looking at numbers again...

Matt Finch said...

I got Moorcock too, but I didn't record the numbers from mine. I was too exhausted from answering all the bloody questions.

Sham aka Dave said...

Matt: I tried to zip through it rather than ponder too long on any, but yeah, 'twas a long quiz. And another one for Mr. Moorcock, too.