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Home Fires 9-Copy Floor Display Hardcover – January 18, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In a future North America not quite crumbling but somewhat less than utopian, Skip and Chelle meet and marry in college. But Chelle has to do her term of military service against aliens many light-years away. Twenty-five years later, thanks to the time-dilation effect, she is a still-young but convalescent combat veteran. Skip is a wealthy businessman. And they are still in love. Unfortunately, when they take a Caribbean cruise to celebrate, they run into pirates, politics, aliens, and Murphy’s Law running wild. The ending may not please readers who have come to care for the couple, as over the years it has been easy to care for most of Wolfe’s characters. But they will be pleased by this latest display of all the gifts of one of sf’s authentic all-time masters, including original and balanced characterization, masterly world building, and an ethical sensibility of the highest degree. --Roland Green


Praise for Gene Wolfe:

“Wolfe stands out as a major figure in contemporary science fiction and fantasy.”

“A whole that transcends its incongruous parts. Wolfe is one of the very few writers who could bring off such a tour de force.”
—Asimov’s Science Fiction on An Evil Guest

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; First Edition edition (January 18, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765328186
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765328182
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,312,739 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Gene Wolfe is winner of the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement, and many other awards. In 2007, he was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. He lives in Barrington, Illinois.

Customer Reviews

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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on February 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Skip has waited very patiently for his wife Chelle to return home from her interstellar military service. Thanks to relativity, it's only been a few years for Chelle. But for Skip, it's been over 20. Being informed that returning servicewomen most want to see their family, Skip contracts with a reanimation company to have Chelle's late mother's personality imprinted into the brain of another woman. Her name is Vanessa, and she and Skip instantly get off to a rough start, because as soon as Skip stops paying the daily fee, Vanessa will "die" again, and to make things worse, Chelle was never told her mother had died. Will Skip and Chelle be able to pick up right where they left off? What exactly is the state of their relationship? How will Chelle react Vanessa, who both is and isn't her mother?

Shortly after Chelle's return, she and Skip embark on a romantic Caribbean cruise. And then the rule breaking begins. Vanessa shows up as the cruise social director, but now she's going by the name Virginia. The ship is attacked by pirates who hope to ransom the wealthy passengers, but thanks to Skip's fast thinking and wealth, a team of mercenaries helps take the ship back. One of Skip's employees from the law firm is with the mercenary team. There is talk of a suicide club. and cyborgs. and aliens that are referred to only as O's. There's an attempted murder. And a bomb. And a woman with mis-matched hands who may harbor a hidden personality, also a man with no hands. Skip has until the ship pulls into port to figure out what's going on and prove himself to Chelle. It's a little noir, a little Agatha Christie, a little PTSD, a little Vanilla Sky, and it all boils down to a guy trying to get through a rough patch with his wife.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By R. Lindsey on May 16, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I liked this better than An Evil Guest, about as well as The Sorcerer's House, and not as well as Pirate Freedom, to name a few of Wolfe's more recent novels.

Any author worth his or her salt must really hate hearing that the new stuff isn't as good as the old stuff. But after reading all of Wolfe's novels, and rereading most of them, along with nearly all of his anthologized stories, I'm afraid I think it's largely true, with some important exceptions.

I don't know that I could pin down one and only one reason why I think this is so. But I can point to one thing that's increasingly been bothering me about Wolfe's work in recent years. To my ear, it seems as if he's forgetting how to write dialogue. He's lost none of his subtlety or wit, or his broad and exact vocabulary, or his moral seriousness, or his fondness for puzzles (intellectual, physical, or moral), and he remains a master of first-person narrative, but more and more, the way his characters talk in third-person narrative is starting to drive me up the wall.

For one thing, as another reviewer noted, a lot of the characters sound the same or nearly so. One might curse more than other, or another might have an accent, but in a given book, you might hear the same verbal tics or mannerisms from several unrelated characters. (Example: using "only" to start a sentence, in the sense of "but," "however," "except that.") And this without much variation in tone or style.

For another, many of the characters seem to spend a lot of time doing what I'd call "talking about talking," instead of just talking.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Stefan VINE VOICE on February 17, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Before Chelle left Earth to fight in the war against the alien Os, she contracted (entered into a civil marriage) with Skip. If she returned, more than twenty years would have passed for Skip but only a few years for her: Skip would be a successful, rich lawyer, and she'd be his beautiful, young contracta. Fast forward to the start of Home Fires, the latest novel by all-round genius Gene Wolfe: Skip is indeed a rich, successful partner in his law firm, and Chelle returns to Earth, still young and beautiful but physically and mentally affected by war's traumatic experiences. To help welcome his contracta home, Skip sets up a meeting with her estranged and (more importantly) dead mother, arranging to have her brain scan uploaded into a new body. When Skip and Chelle go on a cruise to rekindle their relationship, Chelle's mother shows up on the ship under an assumed name, and a complicated plot involving mistaken identities, spies, hijackers and cyborgs gets underway...

Home Fires is a good novel, but falls far short of what Gene Wolfe is capable of at his best. Part of the problem is that the vast majority of the story is told from the perspective of Skip Grissom, and Skip happens to be the least interesting component of this tale. A successful lawyer, he approaches his renewed relationship with Chelle and their wild adventures on the cruise in a very rational, almost distant way. Because of his cerebral approach and understated way of describing things, it feels as if there's a filter between the reader and the novel's events that mutes much of their impact, unfortunately making Home Fires more bland than it could have been.
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