cover image The Best of Gene Wolfe

The Best of Gene Wolfe

Gene Wolfe, . . Tor, $29.95 (478pp) ISBN 978-0-7653-2135-0

In these 31 self-selected stories, Wolfe (An Evil Guest ) mixes pulp adventure, ghost stories and noir with self-reference, meta-fiction, unreliable narrators and puns. His protagonists faces threats both modern (political correctness in “Petting Zoo,” corporate capitalism in “Hour of Trust”) and eternal (sexual temptation in “Bed and Breakfast”) and learn to trust fantasy over fact (“The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories,” “And When They Appear”). Sincere tributes to the Gospels (“The Detective of Dreams”), G.K. Chesterton (“Westwind”) and R.A. Lafferty (“Has Anyone Seen Junie Moon?”) bring out Wolfe’s sentimental side, though he proves equally capable of satirizing American self-righteousness (“Seven American Nights”) or affectionately teasing his contemporaries (“From the Desk of Gilmer C. Merton”). The result is a highly flattering career retrospective of a postmodern fabulist disguised as a mild-mannered SF writer. (Mar.)