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The Island of Dr. Death and Other Stories and Other Stories Paperback – Jul 15 1997

4.9 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Orb Books; Reprint edition (July 15 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312863543
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312863548
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.2 x 21.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 499 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #377,463 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


“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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Customer Reviews

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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
Two fantastic stories, "The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories" and "Seven American Nights" bookend another excellent collection from the masterful Wolfe. Several of the stories contained herein were award nominees...and rightfully so. With each story, the reader gains more appreciation for the skill employed by Wolfe. Truly he is a master storyteller.
The two stories mentioned above stand out as the masterworks of the collection. Each is a touching and delicate rumination on love and the tender connections that bind us to one another. In "The Island..." a young boy retreats into the fantasy setting of a Dr. Moreau-type novel when his chaotic family situation comes to a head. (This is only one way to read the story. A literal interpretation makes the story even more interesting and is hardly improbable in a Wolfe story) "Seven American Nights" tells thte tale of a young Middle Eastern man who comes to a ruined (post-apocalyptic?) America in search of a nebulous goal (Wolfe twice tantalizingly mentions something hidden beneath a mountain. Nuclear Weapons?) The young man is entranced by a young actress and his quest is subsumed by desire. A masterful piece.
Other standout stories inlcude "The Toy Theater" about a powerful puppeteer and "The Eyeflash Miracles" wherein a blind boy travels with a deranged ex-school superintendent.
Wolfe tells dense yet powerful stories. I don't claim to fully understand his works, but I do make the attempt. I've yet to read the Gene Wolfe story that wasn't worth my time. He is one of th most accomplished American writers today. This collection of his early short fiction is a marvelous collection and should be read. Highly recommended.
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