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.
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.
It is hard for me to contain my enthusiasm for this book. I’m not a huge fan of short fiction anymore (for some reason I have started to prefer novels in my old age) but I couldn’t put this book down. I couldn’t wait to get to the next story and see what Gene had in store for me next.
There are a few special characteristics that made this collection great for me. First, after every story is a little commentary by Wolfe about the story or what it meant to me. I really found myself looking forward to the comments and missed them when I read another short story book afterward. Also, Wolfe played around with some interesting formats that you might not expect. For example, there is “The Island of Doctor Death”, the “The Death of Dr. Island”, and “The Death of the Island Doctor”. Additionally, there is the brilliantly done “Parkroads – a Review” that reads like a movie review rather than a fiction story (which it most certainly is!)
I strongly recommend it for any science fiction fan, and would encourage you to loan it out to friends as well. If you have been afraid to get into Wolfe because of the size of the New Sun books, don’t hold back on this one. It will be well worth the time.