The Best of Gene Wolfe: A Definitive Retrospective of His Finest Short Fiction


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Should You Read: Book of the New Sun, by Gene Wolfe?

I know when you go to any author website they ask you to sign up for a free book or some other give-away. Well, they come by it honestly. Every 'how-to-publish' book pushes that concept. If Gene Wolfe wrote in a foreign language this would be on the curriculum at every contemporary fiction class in America. It's great that they gathered all these stories to one book, because many readers may only know that Gene Wolfe has written the excellent The Book of the New Sun series and aren't aware of his fascinating short stories.

I think that the introduction by Kim Stanley Robinson is worth mentioning, because it contains lots of useful The Very Best of Gene Wolfe is a great collection of Gene Wolfe's short stories. I think that the introduction by Kim Stanley Robinson is worth mentioning, because it contains lots of useful and good information about Gene Wolfe and his stories. This introduction tells what kind of things have affected Gene Wolfe's writing style.

I thought it was very interesting to read about Gene Wolfe's life and writings. If I had to choose the best story, I'd choose "The Fifth Head of Cerberus", because it's an excellent example of literary science fiction. It's a fantastic and a bit cryptic story, because its secrets are revealed gradually to the reader. It's a story, which must be read from start to finish in one sitting without pauses in order to fully appreciate what's going on.

That's all I'm going to say about these stories, because I think that every reader should make their own opinions about them. Because all the stories are worth reading, I highly recommend this collection to all readers who like good speculative fiction. Gene Wolfe's stories are excellent and they make the reader think about different things.

I must say that it's truly amazing how versatile a writer he is - he can write almost anything from fantasy to science fiction. Besides being versatile he writes rich and nuanced prose. Feb 13, David Debacher rated it really liked it. There's some really great stuff in here. I'm not entirely sure why he gets classified as strictly SF when science fiction is really a relatively small part of what he's doing here, but whatev, it's great stuff either way.

The Best of Gene Wolfe

Aug 12, Christian rated it it was amazing. Gene Wolfe personally selected all of the stories to be included here except the last story and included a small explanation or background story to each one. The stories are excellent and important reading, the addenda are fascinating and illuminating. Anyone who enjoys words and ideas should own a copy of this book, a collection of the best of each. Jun 18, Jeff Jackson added it Shelves: book-club Highly recommend the novella "Seven American Nights.

May 23, Patrick rated it really liked it. As a literary joke this is rather fun. Was it only a joke? Later he wrote stories called The Death of Dr. Island and Death of the Island Doctor, both of which are also featured in this collection. All three are quite different in style and apparently unrelated. Did you know that? Is it camp? The story unfolds at first in direct quotation from the books: a somewhat butchered version of The Island of Dr Moreau, complete with a sinister vivisectionist and his half-human, half-animal creations.

Jason is not his father, and there is something strange going on at the costume party that evening. The story assumes a shape which is somehow comforting, even through the chaos. It is an appealing balance. The dominance of these archetypes is eternal, it seems. It is a science fiction story, though that much takes a while to become apparent: at first it appears to be about a boy on a desert island.

His name is Nicholas Kenneth de Vore.

Publication: The Best of Gene Wolfe: A Definitive Retrospective of His Finest Short Fiction

Something has happened to Nick. Paragraphs of description are peppered with uncanny details: initially he emerges into the world via a hatch; his body is marked with traces of sutures; he hears voices which seem to come directly from the flora, fauna, and waves. On one occasion he had screamed in this way, without cessation, for fourteen hours and twenty-two minutes, at the end of which a nursing nun with an exemplary record stretching back seventeen years had administered an injection without the permission of the attending physician.

There are at least two others there: Ignacio, a violent and unpredictable older boy, and Diane, a strange young woman with whom Nick becomes involved. The island is part of a facility designed to contain the mentally ill. Nick has been through surgery to separate the two sides of his brain. What is this story? He seems to encourage that feeling of being slightly lost.

At its best it is mysterious, but sometimes it is slightly confounding. Writing about this now I find myself slightly at a loss to explain what this story is about, or even approach a satisfactory description of it. The story ends with Nick destroying the island — with the literal death of the thing, Dr Island. Is it a metaphor for how fighting against mental illness sometimes entails the destruction of the system of treatment itself?

There is an elusiveness here, a resistance to interpretation, that makes me think of Nabokov in its playful textual manipulations; but also writers like Cormac McCarthy in terms of that muscular, allusive, dark, and wholly American style. But definitely not peninsulas. But at first, the question turns out to be irrelevant; the university awards the course no credit, and so of course no students attend.

Insula goes on teaching his none-existent class for six years until, by a happy administrative accident, it is awarded a tiny amount of credit, and two students show up. They are a young man and a young woman, and since it is only them they go to his house to receive the seminar. He instructs them to come to their next meeting prepared to describe what it is they found magical there. And so they go, and nothing at all of note happens. In some ways it is gently conservative. It has a tone reminiscent of Calvino or Borges: that sense of a bibliophilia beautiful for its own sake which regardless becomes a sort of mental prison, a labyrinth of its own making, in which the protagonist is never quite sure if he is Theseus or the Minotaur.

Dr Insula will never do anything again other than teach this non-existent class. He there in perpetuity.


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Hope is manifest in the young man and young woman. May 07, Husha Hum rated it it was amazing. I have not finished reading it, so perhaps it's unfair to review at this point. But I must, just to rave here.

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It is one of those books that deserves to be savoured slowly. Some of these stories I'm saving for maybe I don't want to get through it in one go. Those who crowd their books with superfluous deta I have not finished reading it, so perhaps it's unfair to review at this point. Part of the greatness of Gene Wolfe lies in the way he paints his stories so artfully, leaving enough for the reader's imagination to naturally fill in. This is a big part of the fun of reading.

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Otherwise I would just watch a movie, where everything is presented to me. A lot of writers don't know that this is crucial, and dictate down to the teensiest detail. Then there are others, who try to be mod and artsy, yet come off as lazy, with too much left out--Gene Wolfe strikes the perfect balance.

It's beautiful writing, and you realize the twistedness only upon reflection, and the second or third reading. Some things just don't sit right, which forces you to think about it. There are many levels to it--an example being The Toy Theater, which I loved for its idyllic "old world" atmosphere.

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I re-read to understand the sinister levels, and had to really think to fill in the gaps. The gaps are the best part. They are not there just for stylistic effect, but actually draw your attention to the meaning beneath the surface. Lots of writers in this genre are over-rated.

The Best of Gene Wolfe: A Definitive Retrospective of His Finest Short Fiction The Best of Gene Wolfe: A Definitive Retrospective of His Finest Short Fiction
The Best of Gene Wolfe: A Definitive Retrospective of His Finest Short Fiction The Best of Gene Wolfe: A Definitive Retrospective of His Finest Short Fiction
The Best of Gene Wolfe: A Definitive Retrospective of His Finest Short Fiction The Best of Gene Wolfe: A Definitive Retrospective of His Finest Short Fiction
The Best of Gene Wolfe: A Definitive Retrospective of His Finest Short Fiction The Best of Gene Wolfe: A Definitive Retrospective of His Finest Short Fiction
The Best of Gene Wolfe: A Definitive Retrospective of His Finest Short Fiction The Best of Gene Wolfe: A Definitive Retrospective of His Finest Short Fiction
The Best of Gene Wolfe: A Definitive Retrospective of His Finest Short Fiction The Best of Gene Wolfe: A Definitive Retrospective of His Finest Short Fiction
The Best of Gene Wolfe: A Definitive Retrospective of His Finest Short Fiction The Best of Gene Wolfe: A Definitive Retrospective of His Finest Short Fiction

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