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The Island of Dr. Death and Other Stories and Other Stories [Paperback]

Gene Wolfe
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
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Book Description

July 15 1997
A superb collection of science fiction and fantasy stories, The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories and Other Stories is a book that transcends all genre definitions. The stories within are mined with depth charges, explosions of meaning and illumination that will keep you thinking and feeling long after you have finished reading.

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"Humane, outrageous, forever unexpected....Some of the best American short stories of the decade are in this book." --Ursula K. LeGuin

"This collection makes his work readily available and makes clear that his is one of the names most to be reckoned the literate science fiction of today." --Foundation

"Wolfe is simply a superb writer." --The Washington Post Book World

"Gene Wolfe is among the best writers working in this century." --Fort Worth Star-Telegram

"One of the literary giants of science fiction." --The Denver Post

About the Author

Gene Wolfe has been called "the finest writer the science fiction world has yet produced" by The Washington Post. A former engineer, he has written numerous books and won a variety of awards for his SF writing.

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5.0 out of 5 stars A genius collection! Aug. 2 2010
By Roland
Gene Wolfe has always been the kind of author that makes me feel guilty and maybe a little dumb. All his works - but especially his short fiction - require undivided attention, an almost maniacal eye for detail, and no doubt a passion for solving puzzles. The part that makes me feel dumb is knowing that the mystery is right in front of my eyes. Hiding in plain sight is always the trick with Wolfe, and one of the reasons his fiction is so exquisite. Alas, that knowledge rarely helps in unraveling the layers of innuendos, the significance of the character names, or the little details in the way words are arranged. Feeling guilty comes later, when I realize I've barely scraped the surface, but just couldn't force myself to start reading all over again. I am rarely able to reread before a long time has passed.

With all that said, I am nothing if not a sucker for punishment, so I keep reading Wolfe's works and keep loving them. The Island of Doctor Death And Other Stories And Other Stories is one of the more ridiculous titles of short story collections out there, and the reason for the repetition is the titular story, The Island of Doctor Death And Other Stories, which is a part of the so called "Wolfe Archipelago" - four stories that all have the words "Island", "Doctor" and "Death" in them. Here endeth the similarities though, as we can see from two of the other three parts of the Archipelago, also published in this collection. While The Island of Doctor Death... is a sort of magical realism and externalized metaphor for escapist literature (the characters from a pulp Science Fiction novel resembling The Island of Dr.
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THE ISLAND OF DOCTOR DEATH AND OTHER STORIES AND OTHER STORIES (yes, it's supposed to be titled that way), first published in 1980, is Gene Wolfe's first collection of short stories. It brings together 14 works published in the 1970's, some of which originally appeared in Damon Knight's "Orbit" anthologies. Like with any collection of short stories it ranges widely, but the volume does contain some of Wolfe's finest pieces.
The first story in this book may make the reader wonder why exactly Wolfe receives so much praise, for "The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories" (1970) is a very immature work, an unconvincingly written tale of child whose love of pulp adventure magazines helps him escape a broken home. The next story, "Alien Stones", dates from two years later and shows a dramatic improvement in Wolfe's writing. On the surface it appears to be about a spaceship crew exploring an abandoned alien vessel, but under the surface hints at a darker story. Wolfe, like Larry Niven in his 60's hard science-fiction works, unfortunately underestimates the progress of technology---his spacecraft's computer uses CRT's and manual switches---and his far-future female character seems supiciously like a stereotypical ditz of the early 1970's. Nonetheless, the strong storytelling and intricate plot more than make up for this.
"Three Fingers" is a short diversion, an enhibition of Wolfe's droll sense of humour. "Tracking Song" is another of the high points of the volume, the chronicle of a journey on a frozen world where humanity has evolved into myriad diverse forms. The narration is reminiscent of Wolfe's first great novel, THE FIFTH HEAD OF CERBERUS.
If this collection begins with Wolfe's weakest story, it ends with one of his best.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wolfe's best collection. March 24 2003
His Castle of Days comes at the second place.
One other reviewer called this a perfect introduction to Wolfe. It certainly is. Do not begin with The Fifth Head of Cerberus. That one might turn you off.
Wolfe is at his best in these short stories and he keeps publishing them. I hope an additional collection will appear. Even in his novels Gene Wolfe holds tight to his concept of creating tiny gems of writing. Every chapter in the Book of the New Sun could be seen as a short story. Some of them might well stand alone. Will make some weird reading, but that's Wolfe.
This is a review of this collection, so I will return to this book now. This language is one of the best prose I have yet encountered. Vladimir Nabokov is another superb stylist. If the language won't sedate you the ideas will.
This is so good! On par with the greatest of short story writers. Certainly the top of SF in general.
I'm not giving away anything. Just buy yourself a copy and start reading, slowly. Give it the time it needs. SF readers are generally not used to this kind of writing, but don't think you can't handle it. I don't think that many non-SF/F readers come here, but that's fine. They don't know what they're missing.
Other readers recommended the more favorite stories in this collection. Follow their advice. Start with them.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Don't get no better than that Jan. 7 2003
By Amit D.
This collection features some of the best Science Fiction short stories ever written, and is probably Wolfe's best collection. It exemplifies his amazing ability to construct a fantastic new world, with unforgettable imagination and scenery, using the Baroc-like prose with the archaic and ancient echoing in the background.
If you still haven't read anything by Wolfe, and prefers not to begin with his mega Suns series, this could be a great starting point.
Most recommended:
- The Island of Dr. Death and Other Stories
- The Death of Dr. Island
- Tracking Song
- Seven American Nights
(I wish there was a 6 stars scale)
Read it!
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Treasury of Magnificent Fiction
Two fantastic stories, "The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories" and "Seven American Nights" bookend another excellent collection from the masterful Wolfe. Read more
Published on Nov. 25 2002 by Michael Scott
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect introduction to Gene Wolfe
If you've read some reviews of Gene Wolfe, you've probably noticed an interesting trend. People either love him, or they hate him. Read more
Published on Nov. 27 2001 by Indra Sunrise Geerts
5.0 out of 5 stars Dr. Island
Wolfe is at his best when he has room to develop a theme, thus his most engaging stories are the longer ones in this collection: 'The Death of Dr. Read more
Published on March 12 2001 by Stephen Hoy
5.0 out of 5 stars A book that might became part of you
I've been keeping an eye out for this book since I lost my only copy in 1988 or so At the time I read them (age about 20) they were the most moving and mysterious stories I had... Read more
Published on Oct. 7 2000 by Andrew Blake
4.0 out of 5 stars A superb collection
"The Island of Doctor Death and other stories," "The Death of Doctor Island"; "Tracking Song"; "The Eyeflash Miracles"; "Seven... Read more
Published on Sept. 5 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars Wolfe's Best Collection
This is one of the best collections of short fiction ever published, of similar quality to the major collections of Joyce, Poe, Woolf, or Flannery O'Connor. Read more
Published on May 25 2000 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars I ripped this book in half and threw it across the room
And then I taped it back together and read it again and again. One of the stories was just a bit to painful...
If you loved the Urth of the New Sun books, hang onto your hat! Read more
Published on June 12 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars THIS IS IT
You need search no further to find the epitome of sci-fi/fantasy writing. This collection is it. It delivers like nothing you've read. Buy copy won't last forever.
Published on Jan. 28 1999 by
5.0 out of 5 stars The best short story collection I've yet encountered.
Wolfe is rightly considered a master (if not THE master) of the science-fiction/fantasy novel, and yet I believe his greatest strength lies in writing short stories. Read more
Published on Dec 2 1998
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