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by Gene Wolfe

Pub Date: April 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-312-85207-X
Publisher: Tor

 The first installment in another multivolume, far-future saga (like Wolfe's The Book of the New Sun tetralogy, 1980-87), set inside...well, something--a supercolossal spaceship? a ringworld? a Dyson sphere?--that has its own sun, seasons, and a land surface that curves up in the distance to form the sky; until recently, this world's numerous ruling gods communicated with humans via ``Sacred Windows'' from their remote Mainframe home. Here, in a poor, decaying section of the city Viron, augur and religious leader Patera Silk receives enlightenment from a god, the Outsider, only to learn that his temple has been sold in lieu of unpaid taxes to the rich businessman Blood. Somehow, Silk must persuade Blood not to demolish the temple and redevelop the neighborhood. So Silk breaks into Blood's heavily defended villa, intending threats or bluff; after various weird incidents, Silk sustains a broken ankle and obtains Blood's undertaking to sell the temple back to Silk for twice the original price. Silk also agrees to exorcise Blood's bordello--the scene of a number of unpleasant and ultimately murderous hauntings. A typically unsettling, utterly mysterious blend of sacrifice, spies, exorcism, cyborgs, ghosts, androids, robots, genetic engineering, gods, computers, and what-all. The clever plotting, solid characters, and intriguing backdrop work splendidly in close- up, but their larger significance remains annoyingly unexplained, indeed barely even intimated.