the Little Red Reviewer

Archive for the ‘Gene Wolfe’ Category

An Evil Guest, by Gene Wolfe

published in 2008

where I got it: purchased new

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Struggling actress Cassie Casey has just met the man of her dreams. Well, men, actually.  First she meets handsome Gideon Chase, who hires her to help him spy on the mysterious and wealthy Bill Reis. In return for her help, Gideon will make Cassie a star of stage and screen. When Cassie eventually meets Bill, she instantly dislikes him, more-so as he showers her with attention and expensive gifts.

An Evil Guest is one of the strangest books I’ve ever read. As expected with a Wolfe, we are given some vague hints early on – the story takes place in the future, Gideon might be working for the Government, we’ve met another intelligent race on another planet and in some areas (but not all), their science is ahead of ours, but in general life seems to be going on as normal on planet Earth.

The story is told nearly one hundred percent through dialog, conversations between Cassie and either Gideon or Bill Reis, conversations between Cassie and the other members of the theatre company. Entire chapters are nothing by dialog. The scenery, the world building, it’s all very shadowy.  At times I felt like I was listening to a radio play, where the sound effects for a thunderstorm are made with a rain stick and a thin sheet of metal.

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Home Fires, by Gene Wolfe

Published: Jan 2011

Where I got it: Library

Why I read it:  See post title

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.

And of course,  in classic Wolfe fashion, no one is who or what they appear to be, and everyone has secrets. Some people are itching to get those secrets off their chests, others, not so much.

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One of the most talented and underrated authors of our time, Gene Wolfe is a master of subtle story telling. The Sorcerer’s House is told entirely through letters, and if you’ve ever written a letter to someone, you know how easy that selective memory or urge to exaggerate can kick in.

Baxter Dunn has just been released from prison. He needs to find a job, and a place to live, and fast. After squatting in an old abandoned house, he inquires about purchasing the property. When the real estate woman informs him that he is already the owner of the home as per the last will and testament of a mysterious Mr. Black, Baxter only appears a little surprised.

Baxter spends a few weeks working on the house, getting it cleaned up, moving old furniture out, and new furniture in. He even writes some letters to his twin brother George and George’s wife, Millie, hoping to patch up that relationship as he is patching up an old house. Things begin to get a little strange when Bax catches an adolescent boy running through his house. Thinking the child might be stealing or vandalizing, Bax tries to catch him, and the boy drops what he was carrying. Bax watches him jump out a second story window. However, the window is closed, the glass unbroken, and there are no footprints in the shallow snow outside. Read the rest of this entry »

This review was originally posted on ARWZ. The only changes that have been made are a few grammatical fixes.

Gene Wolfe’s award winning 4 book series The Book of the New Sun has recently been reprinted in two volumes, each containing 2 novels. Shadow & Claw includes the first two novels – Shadow of the Torturer and Claw of the Conciliator. Wolfe presents this sci-fantasy story as a translation of a document written in a “language that does not exist yet.” The dense prose is full of archaic words, which Wolfe explains a part of the challenge of a translation and transliteration. With a feeling of historical novels and hero quest fantasy, Wolfe is giving the reader a vision of distant future. Urth and her people are dessicated and dim, and the sun is cooling in her last days. Dripping in adventure, sex, sword fights, coming-of-age, and destiny, Shadow & Claw is swimming in religious parable, symbolism, and hero mythology.

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.