Tag Archives: Gene Wolfe

BOOK REVIEW: The Land Across by Gene Wolfe

REVIEW SUMMARY: Gene Wolfe returns with a fascinating  and multi-layered novel that keeps its own secrets.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: An American writer is arrested while visiting the country he is writing about, and is forced to navigate a culture he knows nothing about.

PROS: Enjoyable to read and accessible; fun characters; a good place to start if you’ve never read Gene Wolfe.
CONS: Little to no payoff and the end; dialog is easily misinterpreted; not Wolfe’s best work.
BOTTOM LINE: An enjoyable and entertaining novel you’ll find yourself wanting to read again due to the subtle tricks Wolfe plays on the reader.

An American travel writer, Grafton, decides to write his next travel book on a rarely visited eastern European country. Even entering this country is a challenge, as flights he books are cancelled, and drivers are advised to turn back from mountain roads. He finally gets a train to the capital, but gets accused of being a spy, and is arrested. His passport is taken, and thus the plot begins.

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BOOK REVIEW: Shadows of the New Sun – Stories in Honor of Gene Wolfe, Edited by Bill Fawcett and J.E. Mooney


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: An anthology that celebrates the work of Gene Wolfe that, despite the quality of the stories, suffers from serious topic focal problems.

PROS: Two new pieces of fiction from Gene Wolfe; a high powered lineup of authors.
CONS: Too many of the stories seem to be outside the remit of the anthology.
BOTTOM LINE: An anthology that doesn’t quite reach its goal of celebrating the work of Gene Wolfe.

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SF Crossing the Gulf (Episode 13): “Shadow of the Torturer” by Gene Wolfe

In this episode of SF Crossing the Gulf, we tackle Shadow of the Torturer by Gene Wolfe, the first volume of the Book of the New Sun quartet, published in 1980.

This is the first-person narrative of Severian, a lowly apprentice torturer blessed and cursed with a photographic memory, whose travels lead him through the marvels of far-future Urth, and who–as revealed near the beginning–eventually becomes his land’s sole ruler or Autarch. On the surface it’s a colorful story with all the classic ingredients: growing up, adventure, sex, betrayal, murder, exile, battle, monsters, and mysteries to be solved. … For lovers of literary allusions, they are plenty here: a Dickensian cemetery scene, a torture-engine from Kafka, a wonderful library out of Borges, and familiar fables changed by eons of retelling… The Book of the New Sun is almost heartbreakingly good, full of riches and subtleties that improve with each rereading. It is Gene Wolfe’s masterpiece. –David Langford

Despite reading this book in isolation from its series — which means that we are looking at all the set-up and none of the payoff — we find a lot to discuss and a lot to love in this classic novel.
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A 1982 Video Interview with Isaac Asimov, Harlan Ellison and Gene Wolfe Wherein They Discuss the Label “Science Fiction”

In 1982, Studs Terkel and his co-host Calvin Trillin interviewed Isaac Asimov, Harlan Ellison and Gene Wolfe.

What, you need a better introduction? Okay…for starters there’s a discussion about the label of “science fiction”. Now watch!

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Gene Wolfe’s New Novel “The Land Across” Sounds Like It Might Be Politically Charged

I came across the cover art and synopsis of Gene Wolfe’s next novel: The Land Across

Here’s the synopsis:

A novel of the fantastic set in an imagined country in Europe

An American writer of travel guides in need of a new location chooses to travel to a small and obscure Eastern European country. The moment Grafton crosses the border he is in trouble, much more than he could have imagined. His passport is taken by guards, and then he is detained for not having it. He is released into the custody of a family, but is again detained. It becomes evident that there are supernatural agencies at work, but they are not in some ways as threatening as the brute forces of bureaucracy and corruption in that country. Is our hero in fact a spy for the CIA? Or is he an innocent citizen caught in a Kafkaesque trap?

Gene Wolfe keeps us guessing until the very end, and after.

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19 Gene Wolfe Titles Available as eBooks Again

Hot on the heels of the news about Gene Wolfe Gene Wolfe being named the newest Damon Knight Grand Master, comes word from Tor.com that 19 of Wolfe’s out-of-print back titles are now available once more as eBooks. And they’re DRM-free!

check out the complete list of titles and descriptions below…

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Gene Wolfe Named Damon Knight Grand Master Recipient

From the SFWA press release
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Gene Wolfe and Neil Gaiman on a Merry-Go-Round. No, Really!

This past weekend, several speculative fiction luminaries gathered for An Evening in Honor of Gene Wolfe, a night to honor the man himself. I wish I could have been there, but since I couldn’t be, this video of the festivities, taken by William Shunn, will have to suffice.

It’s a fun game of Count the Authors!

[via Michael Swanwick, another Merry-go-roundabout! Read his writeup of the event here.]

MIND MELD: Our Fondest Memories of Science Fiction

When I met Allen Steele at a convention two years ago, he told me a great story about when he first met Robert A. Heinlein. At a previous convention, David G. Hartwell talked about the time Barry Malzberg responded with good humor about a less-than-flattering review Hartwell had given him. There are lots of similarly fascinating stories floating around the minds of writers, and this week we aim to set them free. We asked some of the giants of science fiction to share their stories:

Q: What are some of your fondest memories of your life as a writer?

Here’s what they said…

C.J. Cherryh
C.J. Cherry has written more than 60 books since the mid-1970s, including the Hugo Award winning novels Downbelow Station (1981) and Cyteen (1988), both set in her Alliance-Union universe. Her latest novels are Conspirator and Regenesis. Besides writing, C.J likes to travel and try new things, like fencing, riding, archery, firearms, ancient weapons, painting and video games. She also has an asteroid named after her: 77185 Cherryh.

My first Worldcon was MAC—I’d never been to a con. So I packed what I’d wear for a very fancy business trip; I never entered a panel late, and because I was wearing heels, I was late to almost everything. So I saw almost no panels at all.

And the announcement was out that Robert Heinlein wanted SFWA members to really dress for the awards, I saw people in tuxes, and I knew for one event I must surely be underdressed. So I decided to go to the coffee shop and get something to eat. Marion Bradley saw me sitting by myself, took the chair next to mine, asked if I was missing the awards. We’d never met, mind. I said I hadn’t brought anything that fancy, she said she hadn’t either, so we both sat there at the counter, ordered a modest dinner, and just sat and talked for the duration of the event. I read her books. She took the trouble to say hello to a new writer, and we ended up talking about life, the universe, and everything and having a great time. Of course I found out later that my business dress would have been overkill—but I wouldn’t trade the awards dinner for the sandwich at the counter if you’d offered me the fanciest gown at the event.

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A 2006 Video Interview with Gene Wolfe

This is why I love the Internets…

Here’s a video interview with Gene Wolfe recorded at Balticon 40 in November 2006, around the time his Knight/Wizard books were out.

VIDEO: Science Fiction Legends Talk About The SF Grand Masters

Filmmaker Eric Solstein has uploaded the first two parts of a larger tribute to Science Fiction’s Grand Masters presented at the 2000 SFWA Nebula banquet at the installation of Brian Aldiss. There’s wonderful footage of so many SF legends, including Jack Williamson, Frederik Pohl, Isaac Asimov, James Gunn, William Tenn, Clifford D. Simak, Joe Haldeman, Philip Jos@eacute; Farmer, Norman Spinrad, Damon Knight (for whom the Grand Master Award is now named), Julie Schwartz, Gene Wolfe, Hal Clement, Poul Anderson, Samuel R. Delany, Barry Malzberg and Brian Aldiss.

There’s a longer follow-up video after the break…

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MIND MELD: What You Should Know About Speculative Fiction and Mainstream Acceptance (Part 1)

Recent events and discussions once again bring the topic of genre fiction’s mainstream respectability to the forefront. So we thought it’d be timely to ask this week’s panelists:

Q: In your opinion, does literary science fiction and fantasy have mainstream respect? Why, if at all, does it need mainstream approval? What would such approval mean for genre fiction?

Read on to see their level-setting responses…

Gene Wolfe
Gene Wolfe is a science fiction author noted for his complex and dense prose which is liberally influenced by his Catholic faith. He has won the Nebula Award and World Fantasy Award four times and has been nominated for the Hugo Award multiple times.

That’s a softball. No. Literary sf and fantasy are not respected by mainstream critics or the mainstream professoriate. Neither needs mainstream approval, which would diminish (and perhaps destroy) both. Just look at what they DO respect. Look at what poetry was as late as the early 20th Century, and what it is now.

Now and then I’m asked at cons why I don’t write fiction of the respected sort. You know, he is a professor and she is a professor and they are having adulterous affairs, and they are almost overcome with guilt and angst, and there is no God, and scientific progress doesn’t enter into it, and just about everybody in the world is upper middle class.

When that happens, I ask the questioner abut Martin du Gard. Have you read him? Have you heard of him? Invariably the answers are no and no. Then I explain that Martin du Gard won the Nobel Prize for Literature in the year H. P. Lovecraft died.

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REVIEW: The Best of Gene Wolfe by Gene Wolfe

REVIEW SUMMARY: Awesome collection of short stories from one of the best writers of our generation.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Thirty-one excellent stories from the mind of Gene Wolfe. You’ll find his classic and best regarded works here such as “The Fifth Head of Cerberus” and “The Island of Dr. Death”. But you’ll also find some lesser known but still outstanding works like “The Hero as Werewolf” and “The Marvelous Brass Chess Playing Automaton”.


PROS: From very short works to novella-length efforts, the varied styles are fun to read. Excellent way to get into Gene Wolfe if you are daunted by the size of his novels.

CONS: None.

BOTTOM LINE: Every sci-fi fan needs to have this book in their collection; loaning this book out to non-genre readers will leave them begging for more.

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