Are you there, Lord? It’s me, the omniscient narrator.

At what level did you enjoy Catharsis and Exegesis (assuming you did enjoy them, that is)?

I somewhat asked this question just the other day. But, having just finished Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun, the question is fresh on my mind. Many consider Wolfe’s book to be a science-fiction as well as just plain ol’ literary masterpiece. The book functions somewhat well as a straight-ahead sci-fi epic about a lowly young man coming into his own as king of the kingdom. But it also functions at much higher (or deeper) levels as allegory, puzzle, and work of eschatology.

I’m no Gene Wolfe, but the Bodhi Trilogy certainly shares some similar themes to the Book of the New Sun. On one level, it is a straightforward page turner about a superman and his beautiful, naked lady friend who fight evil with swords and teeth and claws. On another level, it’s an allegorical story of a Theosophic nature. And still beyond that it’s an exploration of the monomyth and the concept of a reluctant hero.

Like Wolfe, I chose a first person narrator so that the reader is left to understand the world not from a level that itself understands that world but from a level fundamentally colored by a profound misunderstanding of it. Wolfe’s Severian is an unreliable narrator much of his own doing, but also because he himself doesn’t understand the forces that act on him nearly as well as he might feign. Similarly, Bodhi, who at least is honest about his ignorance, is manipulated by forces that frankly I myself don’t really understand. In playing with those forces from Bodhi’s level, I as a writer and hopefully you as a reader invoke the forces and are left to deal with them on human terms while they operate at a level of mystery past our ability to deal with.

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