I just finished reading The Knight, by Gene Wolfe, one of only two or three living authors whose works I’ll pick up without regard to reviews or word-of-mouth.

Gene Wolfe

It’s medium-grade Wolfe, which means outstanding by the lacklustre standards of today’s Sci-Fi. Let’s see, there are some themes here that have been beaten if not to death then to severe infirmity in the Wolfe œuvre: a physically dominating hero, sudden lurching transitions between worlds, animals that talk but in real short sentences, loyalty and treachery. But that’s OK, the people are interesting and the action is pretty intense. You might want to wait for the paperback.

I’ve already written about Wolfe here, but it’s worth saying again that The Fifth Head of Cerberus is arguably the greatest sci-fi novel ever, that The Devil in a Forest is a perfect jewel of a small historical novel, the Urth of the New Sun series, while overwritten and too long, has some sequences of white-hot intensity you’d be hard-put to equal anywhere, and that the pair of Latro novels are as convincing a portrait of what life in the classical-Greece period felt like as I’ve encountered.

And then there’s a basket-load of other novels that are merely very good. Plus any of the short-story collections will contain one or two that’ll make you stop and think, seriously.

You have to admire a guy starting what feels like a big long weighty series of novels when he’s 73. You keep writing ’em Gene, I’ll keep buying ’em. He doesn’t seem to have his own Web presence—pity.


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June 05, 2004
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