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Free Live Free [Mass Market Paperback]

Gene Wolfe
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Sept. 1 1993
"Free Live Free," said the newspaper ad, and the out-of-work detective Jim Stubb, the occultist Madame Serpentina, the salesman Ozzie Barnes, and the overweight prostitute Candy Garth are brought together to live for a time in Free's old house, a house scheduled for demolition to make way for a highway.

Free drops mysterious hints of his exile from his homeland, and of the lost key to his return. And so when demolition occurs and Free disappears, the four make a pact to continue the search, which ultimately takes them far beyond their wildest dreams.

This is character-driven science fiction at its best by a writer whom, at the time of its first publication, the Chicago Sun-Times called "science fiction's best genuine novelist."
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Wolfe established himself as one of the new masters of SF in 1972 with his Fifth Head of Cerberus; he has since received high acclaim for his four-volume Book of the New Sun series. This new novel is a disconcerting departure that resembles the work of Thomas Pynchon and William Gaddis rather than traditional SF. Like Gaddis, Wolfe spins a web of conspiracy, con-games, coverups and detection, endless dollar chasing and genuine talent put to the service of fakes and forgeries. But at the end of the quest for Wolfe's four protagonists (an unlicensed detective, an overweight prostitute, a novelties salesman and a witch who works gypsy scams) is a Pynchonesque vision of America's secret masters living perpetually aloft in an immense wooden plane. Always intriguing but sometimes equally baffling, this novel reaches comic heights of cross purposes in the malapropisms of old Mrs. Baker and the sequence set in a mental hospital during a blackout. Although it requires patience, the narrative is darkly humorous, affecting, continually surprising and surprisingly affirmative in its presentation of unconventional, deadbeat characters. November 19
Copyright 1985 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Gene Wolfe is as good a writer as there is today....I feel a little bit like a musical contemporary attempting to tell people what's good about Mozart." --Chicago Sun-Times
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars SF only if you include the ending Feb. 2 2003
Format:Paperback
I will have to re-read the last few chapters of this book but there is no getting around the fact that the plot ends with an unsatisfying and unnecessary red herring. It is as if Wolfe had a manuscript lying around unfinished and some cohort of his said "I dare you to end it using [X] plot device," and Wolfe took up the challenge.
Nor did I find his characterizations really compelling. "Mr Barnes" is the most fully fleshed out of the four protagonists, but all four seem like facets of a single individual, not four distinct people driven by their individual motivations.
That all said, it was an interesting read, and more accessible than Gene Wolfe's heavier fiction. It is atypical among Wolfe's work for its lightness and clarity of prose.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Hoped for too much - ended in disappointment June 10 2002
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Whilst the charaterizations and story development kept my rapt attention during the telling of the tale, to say I was disappointed by the ending would be an understatement. Its been a long time since a book that I enjoyed reading so much left me hanging limp and disappointed by an ending which seemed more of an excuse for lack of imagination than anything else. I've read a lot of Wolfe's other works and have not, so far, been let down by those works. Where was he when he wrote the ending to this one? Hard to say, but his mind didn't seem to have been on the job.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Free Live Free is a major disappointment Jan. 22 2002
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
It's hard to believe that the same man who wrote the masterful Shadow of the Torturer series would allow his name to grace the cover of this piece of garbage.
Free Live Free is quite simply one of the worst books I have ever tried to read. The fact that it has Gene Wolfe's name on the cover makes its existence even more amazing -- how could the great man produce a work of such poor quality? And why didn't his editors try to discourage him from releasing it? It's so uncharacteristically bad, that I begin to wonder if there wasn't some bizarre plot hatched at the office of the publisher (Tor) whereby an inferior wannabe author -- perhaps a high school student, or a B-grade attendee of a writing seminar -- managed to get his work released in Gene's name.
Some Gene Wolfe fans may understand where I am coming from. The vision, the characters, the construction, the sheer storytelling magic of works like Shadow, Soldier of Arete and Fifth Head of Cerebus are nowhere to be found in Free Live Free. Instead, readers are given a contrived scenario (four gritty strangers are given free lodging in a condemned house whose landlord has supernatural powers), idiotic characters ("Madame Serpentina?" Please!) torturous dialogue, and a lumbering, amateurish plot.
Why, Gene, why?
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5.0 out of 5 stars After a long search...................... Nov. 15 2001
Format:Paperback
I have managed to track this fantastic book down. I read it a few years ago now on loan from a friend. With no cover on the book, sorry fellow book lovers but the girl had travelled with it across Europe and the cover went the way of all well read books, sad but true. I had no memory of the author only the blinding, blazing story line that had me captured from the first page. I think i fell in love with Candy the slightly pudgy "Escort Girl", who spends the book munching chocs and delivering some great lines that help to carry the story page after page. Look, enough words, its almost Christmas time, go out and treat yourself to this book, stick it in your stocking, then forget about it till you wake up on Christmas morning, you wont be disapointed, your family may though feel neglected as you wont be talking to much. Enjoy!
Colin Gould.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Characterization at its best July 17 2000
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Every novice writer should be force to read this novel to see how characterization should be done right. The book is also at times wickedly funny, particularly a seen during a black out in an insane asylum. The plot seems to be disjointed but Wolfe pulls every thing togethar at the end.
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