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The Best of Gene Wolfe: A Definitive Retrospective of His Finest Short Fiction Hardcover – March 17, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; First Edition edition (March 17, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765321351
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765321350
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.6 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,483,727 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Thirty-one stories by the most distinguished creator of literary sf makes for a pretty indispensable volume. Of course, “The Fifth Head of Cerberus” and “The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories”—recognized as classics for many years now—are here. So are such objects of amused contemplation (on account of their titles) well before they are read (and as amusedly enjoyed) as “The Hero as Werewolf,” “The Marvelous Brass Chessplaying Automaton” (steampunk with more than one difference), “Seven American Nights” (an account of archaeology of the future), and “Has Anybody Seen Junie Moon?” written in homage to the witty Catholic sf (and historical) novelist R. A. Lafferty (1914–2002). Each of those and the rest of these stories characteristically begin at a point from which Wolfe diverges in a number of different directions—with just how many depending, surprisingly enough, on the particular reader. By the time one has, preferably slowly, digested Wolfe’s creativity, one could be humming Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Things Are Seldom What They Seem” and rejoicingly remarking, “with Wolfe, too.” --Roland Green

Review

Praise for Gene Wolfe:

"If any writer from within genre fiction ever merited the designation Great Author, it is surely Wolfe…[who] reads like Dickens, Proust, Kipling, Chesterton, Borges, and Nabokov rolled into one.”
--The Washington Post Book World

“One of the literary giants of science fiction.”
--The Denver Post

“Gene Wolfe is as good a writer as there is today…. I feel a little bit like a musical contemporary attempting to tell people what’s good about Mozart.”
--The Chicago Sun Times

Customer Reviews

Some have splashes of humor while others are dark and bleak throughout.
Jay
The downside of An Evil Guest is that this book is extremely disjointed, not very clear, and parts seem missing.
Colin P. Lindsey
As mentioned, some of Mr. Wolfe's best short fiction is embedded in his novels.
J. T. Thorleifson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Dmitry Portnoy VINE VOICE on March 29, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Some of the best, and best known, works of science fiction are neither novels nor short stories, but something in between: just long enough to fully explore an idea, yet short enough to focus on a single set of events. "The Time Machine," "Who Goes There," (a.k.a. "The Thing,") and "Flowers for Algernon," (a.k.a "Charly") are three examples of the genre adopted into movies. Others were expanded into novels or even series by their original authors: for example, Theodore Sturgeon's turning "Jefty Is Five" into "More Than Human," Isaac Asimov's linking a series of novellas into "The Foundation Trilogy," and Orson Scott Card's stretching "Ender's Game" into a cottage industry that would be the envy of Pere Dumas. I would guess more than half the science fiction novels ever published started out as something shorter (and often better.)

As far as I know, Gene Wolfe himself has done this twice: turning the bleak and brilliant "The Fifth Head of Cerberus" into a single-volume "trilogy" of interlocking mysteries, and expanding an unpublished (possibly untitled) novella into his unprecedented and unsurpassed four-volume masterpiece "The Book of the New Sun." In this, he has shown remarkable restraint. Pretty much unanimously acknowledged as the master of the novella form, Wolfe could have filled ten acclaimed careers simply expanding into novel-length the short fiction collected in this book. "The Eyeflash Miracles" could easily have been a novel, "The Cabin on the Coast" a fantasy-adventure trilogy, "Seven American Nights," what else, a seven book post-apocalyptic epic, "Forlesen," the lifetime output of a couple authors I could name.

But no, they are what they are.
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Colin P. Lindsey VINE VOICE on October 15, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is going to be a hard book to review and I suspect that the ratings will be all across the board. Some people are going to hate it, some like it, and many more will just be confused. I'm in the last camp, but despite being confused, I must say I liked and enjoyed this book.

The downside of An Evil Guest is that this book is extremely disjointed, not very clear, and parts seem missing. I truly wondered as I was reading this if Mr. Wolfe didn't thrash this out while on some very interesting medications. The upside is that the book grabbed my attention and I enjoyed reading it despite what I might normally call serious flaws. So this is hard to explain. I'm not sure I understood the story, I'm not sure who the evil guest was, I'm not sure what the heck Wolderan had to do with anything, and despite being set 100 years in the future I could detect no trace of that in the book other than that some people had personal spaceships. Other than that, and they didn't have any bearing on the plot, it could have been 1999. In fact, I am not even sure this book has a plot. The musings in the early part of the book regarding good and evil never bear fruit, fun forays into sentient mountains and werewolves never seem to amount to anything and the two Alpha males, Gideon and Reis, never deliver on their promise. The dialogue left me so confused that at many points in the book I had to go back and re-read a sequence three or four times to understand it. It often felt like reading a play without any of the visual cues, mostly because Wolfe didn't add much in the way of descriptions throughout the book. Ready to run away? Not so fast. Somehow I enjoyed this book.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Addison Phillips on November 25, 2008
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
An Evil Guest follows other recent Wolfe novels (Pirate Freedom, Wizard/Knight) that pastiche various fantasy or SF forms of the past. Unlike the others I just mentioned, Evil Guest is broader in ambition and more more true to its (multiplicity of) sources.

At its core, Evil Guest is basically a Hammett or Chandler "mystery" thriller circa 1930. The style, use of dialog, basic milieu, and plotting would feel right at home next to the Big Sleep or Maltese Falcon. Yet we have a completely modern world also (with cell phones, the Internet, etc.), plus 1950's Buck Rodgers space opera elements and some Cthulhu mythologizing thrown in for good measure.

If this sounds dubious, crackpot, haphazard, or just plain impossible... well... it's Gene Wolfe, here. It's not just eminently possible, it all works to build tension and gravity---not knowing who precisely our heroine should trust or whether/how it will work out until the end. The disparate elements and homages (with one exception) play seamlessly together, blending into the whole nicely. (The one exception, for me at least, is the mention of Miskatonic University in the Epilogue: begone, blatant mention!)

If you love Wolfe's "Book of the {whatever} Sun", the Latro stories, and are here for the unreliable narrator, Byzantine plotting, and 57-layers of indecipherable meaning (and you didn't like, say, Pirate Freedom), you might not enjoy this book. The tautness of the genre and the nature of the book will *seem* to deny you those myriad pleasures. I say "seem" because I think he's doing something pretty remarkable without the sundry tricks. I don't love it quite as much as some of Wolfe's earlier works. But I was steadfastly entertained and I liked where this went, indeed indeed.
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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.

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