Friday, June 12, 2009

The Very Best of Gene Wolfe

THE VERY BEST OF GENE WOLFE, Gene Wolf, PS Publishing, $150 limited slipcased ISBN: 978848630284, $75 hardcover ISBN: 978848630277, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

The book starts out with a retrospective look at Wolfe’s writing by Kim Stanley Robinson. Robinson gives a brief look at the life events that influenced Wolfe’s writing. He gives his perceptions on some of the stories and how Wolfe’s experiences and the writers who helped influence his stories and creative processes.

All of the stories that have made Wolfe a power in the SF field are here. The book opens with “The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories” and other gems follow. “The Fifth Head of Cerberus”, “The Death of Doctor Island”, “The Marvelous Brass Chess Playing Automaton”, “Death of the Island Doctor”, “Has Anybody Seen Junie Moon”, and “Redbeard” are among my favorites. The different takes on the “Doctor” stories has always impressed me with the plays on words in the titles. There are many other marvelous stories packed in here as well.

Many years ago, the first time I met Gene Wolfe, he wrote in my autograph book “even if he won’t tell me what he likes about my stories”. Here it is some thirty years later and a lot more stories and books read and I’m still disappointing Gene Wolfe. I can’t just say that they are well written, interesting and thought provoking, which they are on many levels. My answer is that I like them and they stir my emotions. No one else writes like Gene Wolfe and that’s what I like about his stories. I hope that’s a good enough answer, it’s the only one I have.

This is a well produced volume, as are all of PS Publishing’s offerings. It deserves a place in your library. I know it demands a place in mine.

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