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Book Title: Strange Travelers: New Selected Stories|
The author of the book: Gene Wolfe
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 27.95 MB
ISBN 13: 9780312872786
Edition: Orb Books
Date of issue: February 3rd 2001
Read full description of the books:A compilation of some of Wolfe's stories from the 1990's, a decade where he was largely occupied with writing the epic Long Sun and Short Sun series'.
The general word is that Wolfe's short fiction decreased in quality during this time compared to his 70's and 80's work. In the strictest sense of measurement I wouldn't disagree with that, but this is still an outstanding collection.
The stories here are carefully chosen to fit cohesively under the chosen title. They pretty much all feature travelers of different kinds, if not in the literal sense then certainly in the "strange" sense.
Yet the title could just as easily have been "Strange Prisoners", which when you think about it says rather a lot about the tricksy, multi-dimensional nature of Wolfe's keen mind.
The deeper thematic tones of the stories are pretty bleak, both in humanistic and theological terms, yet the mystery, wonder and sheer enjoyment that they contain on the surface left me equally intrigued and entertained throughout.
Each story offered so much even though, unlike with the best Wolfe short story collection, The Doctor of Death Island and Other Stories and Other Stories, most of them are relatively short.
Only The penultimate tale, 'The Ziggurat', could be considered a novella, and a very juicy and disturbing one at that. But I wouldn't call any of them toss-offs, though many were written to order for various magazines and anthologies.
In fact, they were so good I decided to write a short synopsis of each one in turn. I hope I can inspire you to read some of them, though my notes contain barely an inkling of what each contains:
'Blueberry Jam': on the sources and art of folk singing in a future of scarcity and enforced ennui, lived out amongst one almighty traffic jam.
'One-Two-Three For Me': future, AI-assisted humans return to earth to dig for relics and discover a mobile phone, with tragic consequences. A cautionary ghost story.
'Counting Cats in Zanzibar': Promethean cat-and-mouse story between a runaway female scientist and a robot policeman, full of sly quotations and inspired by Asimov's famous laws.
'The Death of Koshchei the Deathless': ridiculous Russian folk tale, a parody of an Andrew Lang fairy story.
'No Planets Strike': a talking bull and donkey tour the solar system as part of a vaudivile act, but are they harbingers of something greater for a captured immigrant population?
'Bed and Breakfast': an unlikely one night stand at an off the track guesthouse three miles from Hell between somebody soon to be condemned and somebody who will possibly soon to be condemned (or is that somebody already condemned?)
'To the Seventh': God and the Devil play chess and as God attempts to queen one of his pawns a single-manned spaceship makes first contact, enlisting the earth in a galactic confrontation where sacrifice is the only possible move for victory.
'Queen of the Night': pitch black medieval fairy story of corpse-eating ghouls and a brave but beguiled boy who trades his innocence to save anothers, at least for a time.
'And When They Appear': an orphan, left alive in an AI-administered house after his father killed himself and the boy's mother, is shown an educational pageant of holographic Christmas characters by the computer, as an angry mob approaches to destroy the place.
'Flash Company': a broken-hearted man buys and restores an old player-piano, but who is really restoring whom?
'The Haunted Boardinghouse': a classics scholar is offered work as a librarian in an esoteric old school housed in a four-fronted building. He falls into a frozen lake on the way and wakes up in a bedroom at the school, which appears to be a labyrinth haunted with ghosts. But did he actually die in the water, or has he escaped death, temporarily at least?
'Useful Phrases': a bookseller discovers a small volume of phrases in an alien language called Tcove. He works at translations but they all seem to be non sequiturs (i.e. "I hunger for taller trees"), yet after he places an advert about it he receives responses...
'The Man in the Pepper Mill': a young boy trying to get over the recent death of his younger sister imagines that he lives inside her dollhouse at night.
'The Ziggurat': the collection's longest piece features a confrontation in a secluded, snowed-in cabin between a man just about to finalise a messy divorce and a trio of time-traveling females from the future, with highly ambiguous consequences.
'Ain't You 'Most Done?': a redux of the first story, but from a different perspective in every way.
I hope some of my short and intentionally vague descriptions whetted a few appetites out there. Believe me, you will not be disappointed if you buy this book.
Read information about the authorGene Wolfe is an American science fiction and fantasy writer. He is noted for his dense, allusive prose as well as the strong influence of his Catholic faith, to which he converted after marrying a Catholic. He is a prolific short story writer and a novelist, and has won many awards in the field.
The Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award is given by SFWA for ‘lifetime achievement in science fiction and/or fantasy.’ Wolfe joins the Grand Master ranks alongside such legends as Connie Willis, Michael Moorcock, Anne McCaffrey, Robert Silverberg, Ursula K. LeGuin, Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury and Joe Haldeman. The award will be presented at the 48th Annual Nebula Awards Weekend in San Jose, CA, May 16-19, 2013.
While attending Texas A&M University Wolfe published his first speculative fiction in The Commentator, a student literary journal. Wolfe dropped out during his junior year, and was drafted to fight in the Korean War. After returning to the United States he earned a degree from the University of Houston and became an industrial engineer. He edited the journal Plant Engineering for many years before retiring to write full-time, but his most famous professional engineering achievement is a contribution to the machine used to make Pringles potato crisps. He now lives in Barrington, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago.
A frequent Hugo nominee without a win, Wolfe has nevertheless picked up several Nebula and Locus Awards, among others, including the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement and the 2012 Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award. He is also a member of the Science Fiction Hall of Fame.
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