cover image Castle of Days

Castle of Days

Gene Wolfe. Tor Books, $22.95 (448pp) ISBN 978-0-312-85209-2

The acclaimed author's latest effort combines the complete texts of two of his previous books--a story collection, Gene Wolfe's Book of Days (1981), and a volume of essays, The Castle of the Otter (1982), both out of print. In addition, there is a wide-ranging selection of letters, speeches, notes and essays on topics from writing to knife-throwing to classical Greek. All the tales in the Book of Days have the grace and wit that Wolfe's readers have come to expect from him. ``La Befana'' is a subtle, stirring story of Christmas on another world; ``Against the Lafayette Escadrille'' packs a powerful emotional punch into its brief space. The Castle of the Otter will strike some as self-indulgent, but to Wolfe fans these behind-the-scenes glimpses at the genesis of his masterpiece, The Book of the New Sun , will be gems, particularly ``These Are the Jokes,'' in which New Sun characters tell amusing stories, and the notes on unusual words and names. Wolfe's views on writing, genrefication, critics and himself in many of the previously uncollected pieces will interest any readers serious about the literature of fantasy and science fiction. Though this collection may mystify readers unfamiliar with Wolfe and his branch of fiction, devotees will find much to savor. (Dec.)