Gene Wolfe has never won a Hugo

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Gene Wolfe has never won a Hugo

Postby admin » Sat May 21, 2011 10:05 am

Writers as diverse as Neil Gaiman, David Drake, and Michael Swanwick have called Gene Wolfe our best living writer. Not our best living science fiction writer, simply the best. I just reread Gene Wolfe's "Petting Zoo", and if ever a sf story deserved to win a Hugo, "Petting Zoo" did. Why I didn't win I can't imagine.
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Re: Gene Wolfe has never won a Hugo

Postby Brightonian » Sun May 22, 2011 8:00 am

I was intrigued by Neil Gaiman's piece in the Guardian and have just acquired Book of the New Sun in the Fantasy Masterworks series. While in the bookshop I also flipped through Best of Gene Wolfe and was impressed by how many times he name-checks Kipling and GK Chesterton. I also liked the way he doesn't explain too much; the settings of his stories are just there in the background, almost taken for granted.
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Re: Gene Wolfe has never won a Hugo

Postby admin » Mon May 23, 2011 7:06 am

I've just started his newest novel, Home Fires, and was impressed by how much it resembles a Heinlein novel. Late Heinlein, to be sure, but Heinlein. As an example, this paragraph from the first page.

"He woke, sweating and trembling in his narrow bed, rose and went to the washbasin, poured water from the pitcher there into the bowl. The water smelled a little like sewage, but it felt cool and refreshing."

We later learn that this is a wealthy man in a high-tech future. We are never told, there is no info dump, but clearly this is a crowded Earth in which fresh water is in short supply.
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Re: Gene Wolfe has never won a Hugo

Postby Brightonian » Sat May 28, 2011 5:50 am

Already on New Sun vol 2, The Claw of the Conciliator. I now know where Neil Gaiman got the word "carnifex".
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Re: Gene Wolfe has never won a Hugo

Postby admin » Tue May 31, 2011 7:22 am

I finished Home Fires. It is very enjoyable. Hard to put down, in fact. And it is a knowing pastiche of late Heinlein. Most of the action is set on a cruise ship that is captured by modern-day pirates. Most of the story is told in dialog. There is one stylistic novelty. A chapter told in third person is followed by a page or two of internal monolog, which shed light on the characters. It won't go on my short list of favorite Wolfe. That is New Sun plus some of the shorter works. But it is well worth reading.
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Re: Gene Wolfe has never won a Hugo

Postby Brightonian » Mon Jun 27, 2011 7:27 am

I'm now on the Fifth Head of Cerberus. My only regret is that I started reading the introduction by Adam Roberts (in the SF Masterworks edition), which casually gives away several plot points that are meant to be gradually and carefully disclosed in the course of the story.
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Re: Gene Wolfe has never won a Hugo

Postby Brightonian » Mon Jun 27, 2011 7:32 am

I think part of Wolfe's achievement is to take us inside a genuinely alien mindset. Both Severian and "Number Five" seem at first to be quite like us, but every now and then they will narrate some (to us) appalling action in a completely matter-of-fact way, without giving any justification as they presumably don't see any need for it.
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