Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Gene Wolfe holdings at the Merril Collection

Late last year I completed a three-week professional placement at the Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation and Fantasy at the Lillian H. Smith branch of the Toronto Public Library for my Master of Information Studies (Librarianship) - I wrote a bit about the experience on my other blog. One thing I loved about the Merril Collection was its extensive holdings of Gene Wolfe material, including many of the limited/special editions produced by small presses. As I was sifting through some photos recently, I thought I'd post a few here, for those readers and collectors interested in the bibliographic side of Wolfe's work.

Most of the Merril Collection's Wolfe holdings are in their main run of fiction and spread across three shelves. All of the hardcovers' dustjackets are in archival sleeves and the particularly fragile materials are in archival boxes - I love seeing books so well preserved!

I took the time, while I was at the collection, to check out some of the hard-to-find (and now incredibly expensive) printings of some of Wolfe's shorter fiction, such as this stunning embroidered and illustrated copy of Empires of Foliage and Flower (Cheap Street, 1987):

I think the collection also holds a complete set of the small Cheap Street chapbooks that were originally sent out as 'greeting cards', including "The Old Woman Whose Rolling Pin Is The Sun" and "The Arimaspian Legacy" (pictured below with the original artwork used for its cover, and the covers of some other Cheap Street chapbooks):

Hidden in the basement of the Lillian H. Smith branch is the Merril Collection's store room, which contains many shelves of uncatalogued foreign language materials, including many foreign language Wolfe books donated by Wolfe himself, who has visited and spoken at the Merril Collection several times. I found these very interesting for the different cover art they used - I've noticed that there is almost no consistency between how different cover artists depict Severian and Silk, in particular (check out Hoof&Hide's great Wolfe cover art gallery for more examples of this).

Czech translation of The Shadow of the Torturer
Polish translation of The Shadow of the Torturer
French translation of Lake of the Long Sun
Spanish translation of There Are Doors

As I was rummaging through the store room, I stumbled upon some of the Merril Collection's ephemera and manuscripts, including a manuscript of Wolfe's Letters Home, which collects some of the letters he wrote to his parents during the Korean War:

So, there you have it, a brief recap of some of the great Wolfe holdings at the Merril Collection. If you're in Toronto, I strongly recommended checking out the library, especially if you're a Wolfe fan!

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Gene Wolfe tidbits (June 2013)

It's been a couple of months since the last post, but here are a few more links to various Wolfe-related items around the interwebs.

Interviews with Gene Wolfe

S&L Podcast - #134 - Interview with Gene Wolfe (25 June 2013)
Gene Wolfe was interviewed in a recent Sword and Laser podcast (hosted by Veronica Belmont and Tom Merritt).

A 1982 Video Interview with Isaac Asimov, Harlan Ellison and Gene Wolfe Wherein They Discuss the Label “Science Fiction” - via
Interesting interview from 1982 with Wolfe, Asimov & Ellison. Highlights some of the differences between them as authors and individuals.

Interviews with contributors to Shadows of the New Sun

Shadows of the New Sun: Nancy Kress - Ultan's Library (30 May 2013)

Shadows of the New Sun: Marc Aramini - Ultan's Library (29 May 2013)


In a recent PS Publishing newsletter, Peter Crowther writes: "we are definitely going to be publishing a special signed and slipcased PS edition of Gene Wolfe’s upcoming The Land Across. Watch out for further announcements."

SF Crossing the Gulf (Episode 13): “Shadow of the Torturer” by Gene Wolfe (12 June 2013)
An enjoyable podcast with Karen Burnham and Karen Lord discussing Wolfe's Shadow of the Torturer.

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Gene Wolfe tidbits (April 2013)

Welcome to the second instalment (first here) of tidbits relating to Gene Wolfe picked up over the last month from various shady corners of the interwebs. Not a lot this month, but a few neat things to chew on...

Shared Worlds - "Hand in Hand" (March 2013)
This webpage, which I found out about this through the SFWA website, was created to encourage registrations for the 2013 Shared Worlds Teen Writing Camp at Wofford College in South Carolina. It features snippets of writing advice from science fiction, fantasy and horror writers (including Wolfe, Gaiman and others) written on their hands and photographed. Quite a neat concept!

Dragoncon - Gene Wolfe (April 2013)
A very entertaining mini-biography of Wolfe, who is one of the featured guests of this year's Dragoncon (30 August - 9 September 2013 in Atlanta). I assume it was written by Wolfe himself, given the writing style, humour and inclusion of random details I'm fairly sure I haven't read elsewhere - including this fantastic little story that describes Wolfe's retirement from Plant Engineering, the trade journal he was editing, in 1984 to write full time:
By the goodwill of the editor-in-chief, Leo Spector, he got a farewell dinner at which a dozen speakers insulted shamefully. He then rose and insulted all of them back, ending his little talk by throwing aside his orange trade-show jacket, his tie, and his white shirt. Beneath it he wore a T-shirt: REALITY IS A CRUTCH FOR PEOPLE WHO CAN’T HANDLE SCIENCE FICTION.

J E Mooney - Shadows of the New Sun (excerpt) (25 April 2013) has published J. E. Mooney's foreword of the upcoming Gene Wolfe tribute anthology, Shadows of the New Sun. We also now have a more solid release date, 27 August 2013, and a cover:


Sunday, 17 March 2013

Gene Wolfe tidbits (March 2013)

As Gene Wolfe related items pop up on my news feeds and in my inbox, I keep meaning to write blog posts about them... but between full-time work, part-time study and various other commitments, I seldom have the time. So I've decided to start posting "Gene Wolfe tidbits" every month (or few months, as the case may be), linking to interesting Wolfe-related news, reviews, discussions, interviews and so on. With this first post of 'tidbits' I've just included some stand-out news items, reviews and interviews from the last few months. This will, of course, be in addition to other, longer posts, as I have time to write them (and, come July, I should have much more time to write blog posts and the like... more on that later...). So, enjoy!

News, etc.

Gene Wolfe - The Land Across Cover Art and Synopsis Reveal (7/3/2013)
As I posted the other day, the cover and official synopsis of Wolfe's next novel have now been released. The Land Across is due out this November.

LoneStarCon 3 Announces Initial List of Program Participants (5/3/2013)
According to the press release, Wolfe will be attending and participating in LoneStarCon 3, the 71st World Science Fiction Convention to be held in Texas.

Michael Swanwick, "Acolytes of the Wolf(e)" on Flogging Babel (25/2/2013)
Swanwick discusses the upcoming Gene Wolfe tribute anthology, Shadows of the New Sun: Stories in Honor of Gene Wolfe, edited by J. E. Mooney and Bill Fawcett and due out this August.

2012 Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Awarded to Gene Wolfe (13/12/2012)
Maybe old news now, but Wolfe was selected by the SWFA for the 2012 Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award! Very exciting. And very fitting, too, since Wolfe has acknowledged Damon Knight as one of his mentors (Knight was his first and perhaps most influential editor).

Michael Andre-Driussi's Gate of Horn, Book of Silk (10/2012)
Again, old news, but Andre-Driussi's long-awaited guide to Wolfe's Book of the Long Sun and Book of the Short Sun series was published late last year. Thus far I've only had time to flick through it, but it looks pretty great. Hopefully I'll have time to delve into it soon.

Interviews, etc.

AudioTim 44: Chicon 7 Panel "Conquering Writer’s Block" (28/1/2013)
An audio recording of a panel held during the 2012 World Science Fiction Convention in Chicago discussing writer's block, featuring Russell Davis, Tom King, Eldon Thompson, Monica Valentinelli and Gene Wolfe.

Coode Street podcast, Episode 128: Live with Gene Wolfe! (22/12/2012)
Wolfe is interviewed in this episode of Jonathan Strahan and Gary K. Wolfe's science fiction podcast.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

The Land Across cover, synopsis and release date

Gene Wolfe's next novel, The Land Across, now has a cover and synopsis, as revealed by The synopsis is similar to what Wolfe has said about the book in recent interviews:
An American writer of travel guides in need of a new location chooses to travel to a small and obscure Eastern European country. The moment Grafton crosses the border he is in trouble, much more than he could have imagined. His passport is taken by guards, and then he is detained for not having it. He is released into the custody of a family, but is again detained. It becomes evident that there are supernatural agencies at work, but they are not in some ways as threatening as the brute forces of bureaucracy and corruption in that country. Is our hero in fact a spy for the CIA? Or is he an innocent citizen caught in a Kafkaesque trap?
Gene Wolfe keeps us guessing until the very end, and after.
Mysterious locations? Dizzying and oppressive bureaucracy? Kafkaesque indeed! I'm certainly looking forward to this. The Land Across is due to be released on 26 November 2013.