R.I.P. Gene Wolfe
I thought this was pretty good:
I’ve seen links to this floating around, but I had not read it. The didacticism of the title, which the writer probably didn’t even pick. It’s nice. I knew that Gene knew Operation Ares was a failure, but didn’t know he knew the stridency of its politics was a large part of its failure. Could use a note that Fifth Head of Cerberus began as the one novella and was developed into three interlinking ones at the suggestion of an editor. It is amazing–still one of his best work after 40+ productive years–all the more so in light of its antecedent.
I don’t suggest anyone seek out that antecedent so they too can be impressed by his development. It’s not worth it!
He’s said in an interview that at some point he began to consciously try to write in a more “commercial” way so more people would buy his books. It flattened them (imo) and never worked as intended. He had a remarkable gift for empathizing with and writing in the voice of characters in unusual or extreme situations, or from alien backgrounds. When he went “here is a conventional person, and here is their conventional voice,” it didn’t play. Wolfe was still there in structure or obfuscation but the text wasn’t itself a pleasure.
Also didn’t know he and Rosemary met as children, or that she was forgetting him as she died. I got all misty, etc.! I’m still surprised he lasted so many years after her.
I have a paperback copy of it in my basement that I am probably never going to read.
I sold my Weird British Book Club hardback when I was unemployed.
And I still hold on to Pandora, by Holly Hollander!