Sunday, 28 November 2010

Gene Wolfe: upcoming novels and a recent interview

I've been a bit slack blogging lately. Mostly because I'm still waiting on the results of my honours thesis, and I don't really want to go near my thesis or anything related to it until I have received said results. However, I just thought I'd post some recent Gene Wolfe news and links that may be of interest.

First off, Wolfe has a new book coming out in January titled Home Fires, the official blurb of which runs thus:

Gene Wolfe takes us to a future North America at once familiar and utterly strange. A young man and woman, Skip and Chelle, fall in love in college and marry, but she is enlisted in the military, there is a war on, and she must serve her tour of duty before they can settle down. But the military is fighting a war with aliens in distant solar systems, and her months in the service will be years in relative time on Earth. Chelle returns to recuperate from severe injuries, after months of service, still a young woman but not necessarily the same person - while Skip is in his forties and a wealthy businessman, but eager for her return.

Still in love (somewhat to his surprise and delight), they go on a Caribbean cruise to resume their marriage. Their vacation rapidly becomes a complex series of challenges, not the least of which are spies, aliens, and battles with pirates who capture the ship for ransom. There is no writer in SF like Gene Wolfe and no SF novel like Home Fires.

Although the only (early) review I can find is not glowing, I am still really looking forward to this book. The reviewer groups it together with An Evil Guest and There are Doors as some of Wolfe's lesser works. However, I absolutely loved There are Doors - it's my favourite of Wolfe's stand-alone novels - and I certainly didn't mind An Evil Guest. Also, the premise of Home Fires sounds very interesting, and I look forward to seeing how Wolfe treats the gender and relationship issues that look like they will play an important part in the book.

C.S.E. Cooney recently interviewed Wolfe for Black Gate - it's a great interview that is certainly worth reading. A week earlier Cooney wrote a Live Journal blog post asking if anyone had any questions they'd like Wolfe to answer, so I posted a question in a comment. I had to sign in to post, so I just used my Twitter account, although I should probably have used Facebook or at least signed my name to the comment (although my real name appears if you open my Twitter profile), because when Cooney came to asking my question, it ran thus:

Cooney: "The second guy – I… didn’t get his name, actually. I only have his LJ handle.”

Wolfe: “What is it?”

Cooney: “Um… Silk4Calde.”

Wolfe: [Gene started to laugh.] “Say no more! I know where he got it.”

So, that was kind of embarrassing! Funny though - in an oh-my-gosh-I-feel-like-such-a-dork kind of way. Anyway, I asked what Wolfe was working on at present, and he said he was writing a new book called The Land Across, which he summarised thus:

There’s a young man. His father is dead – or he believes his father is dead. He’s grown up all over the world, because his father was in the State Department. He has written a travel book about Austria. English is his cradle language, but he picked up others – some German, French, and Japanese – when he lived in those countries.

He decides to write another book about a different European country, “on the other side of the mountain,” from Austria. This country is a surreal Balkan nation, formerly under the Communist government, anciently invaded by the Turks, completely fictional.

The young man is arrested as soon as he enters this country. His passport is taken, his luggage is taken. The police there bring him to the house of a man they do not like – this is the kind of thing the police do – and explain to him that he is to live in the man’s house. He must sleep there every night; should he escape, his host will be shot. And they give him as a little hint:

“If you don’t like the food, you can threaten to escape.”

And it goes on from there.

Sounds rather interesting! And a bit like his most recent novel, The Sorcerer's House, although perhaps more sf and less fantasy.

Anyway, I had better get back to working on this article on late-nineteenth-century Australian utopian literature. Thesis results will be released on Friday, and after that I'll be back posting more regularly - I have a lot of Wolfe's fiction still to read!


  1. Great post! Thanks so much for the info, especially the pointer to CSE Cooney's interview. This is the most info we have so far on The Land Across! Wolfe said he was mentoring Cooney a couple years ago in a Balticon podcast.

  2. Ah, I knew there must have been a connection between Wolfe and Cooney, just didn't know what it was! Thanks for your comments :)