cover image INNOCENTS ABOARD: New Fantasy Stories

INNOCENTS ABOARD: New Fantasy Stories

Gene Wolfe, . . Tor, $25.95 (304pp) ISBN 978-0-7653-0790-3

Veteran Wolfe (The Knight ) doesn't just write stories. He tells wondrously imaginative tales that weave reality with dream and fit so comfortably, or with intentional discomfort, within the psyche that they surely must have dwelt there all along with the other great fables and folk tales, lore and legends that are part of our collective cultural unconscious. The 22 short works of horror and fantasy (and "magic realism" if one disdains genre labels) collected here are further proof that Wolfe ranks with the finest writers of this or any other day. Age has neither dulled nor withered the septuagenarian author: fully half these stories are from the last five years. "The Tree Is My Hat" is a haunting ghost story set on a Pacific Island replete with shark-gods and lost temples. The chilling "The Friendship Light" combines the Lovecraftian with the psychopathological. An ill child finds endless adventure and inescapable nightmare in "Houston, 1943." In "The Lost Pilgrim," a time-traveler intent on sailing with the Pilgrims finds himself on a voyage into Greek myth. Wolfe's magic is so potent that even when his highly unreliable narrators warn us we will never believe them, that they are mad or illogical, we still find it all, no matter how outlandish or surreal the premise, perfectly plausible. Wolfe is a literary treasure, as shown in these short stories as lucid as diamonds of the first water. Agent, Vaughne Lee Hansen at the Virginia Kidd Literary Agency. (July 1)