If you've read some reviews of Gene Wolfe, you've probably noticed an interesting trend. People either love him, or they hate him. This isn't such a great thing when you're not sure into which category you'll fall! Well, here's a collection of his works, broad enough and good enough so that you'll know by the end of it whether you are a fan, or whether his work is unswimmably deep for you.
Let me say that Wolfe is not casual reading. A deep, thorough exploration of his works will leave you re-examining your points of view on subjects as diverse as Christianity (The Urth of the New Sun series), the future of mankind (most of his works), the role of personal enterprise in capitalism (Hour of Trust, reprinted here), psychiatric medicine and it's practice (The death of Doctor Island, also reprinted here), and the origin of numerology (Alien Stones, possibly one of his best works, included). That's a rather short list of the things that Wolfe has left me pondering, late into the night, forced to re-examine my views in the light of the understanding he applied to each.
If that sound a bit thick, allow me a quick quote:
"You know nothing. You are like a child who has wandered by accident into a theatre half a minute before the final curtain. You see people moving about, some masked; you hear music, observe actions you do not understand. But you do not know if the play is a tragedy or a comedy, or even know whether those you see are the actors or the audience."
If the quote appeals to you, catches your interest, give this book a try. It is a great series of Science Fiction stories, written by an absolute master. If it doesn't even vaguely interest you, you might want to look further.