The Very Best of Gene Wolfe is a new short story collection by Gene Wolfe. It will be published by PS Publishing during the summer of 2009. This book was originally published by Tor Books as The Best of Gene Wolfe: A Definitive Retrospective of His Finest Short Fiction. This limited edition contains one additional story, "Christmas Inn".

Risingshadow.net has had an opportunity to read The Very Best of Gene Wolfe in advance before its publication, so here's our review.

A REVIEW OF THE VERY BEST OF GENE WOLFE

The Very Best of Gene Wolfe is a great collection of Gene Wolfe's short stories. I think that Tor Books and PS Publishing have done an excellent job with this collection. It's great that they gathered all these stories to one book, because many readers may only know that Gene Wolfe has written the excellent The Book of the New Sun series and aren't aware of his fascinating short stories.

I think that the introduction by Kim Stanley Robinson is worth mentioning, because it contains lots of useful and good information about Gene Wolfe and his stories. This introduction tells what kind of things have affected Gene Wolfe's writing style. I thought it was very interesting to read about Gene Wolfe's life and writings.

The contents of this book are:

  • Introduction by Kim Stanley Robinson
  • The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories
  • The Toy Theater
  • The Fifth Head of Cerberus
  • Beech Hill
  • The Recording
  • Hour of Trust
  • The Death of Dr. Island
  • La Befana
  • Forlesen
  • Westwind
  • The Hero as Werwolf
  • The Marvelous Brass Chessplaying Automaton
  • Straw
  • The Eyeflash Miracles
  • Seven American Nights
  • The Detective of Dreams
  • Kevin Malone
  • The God and His Man
  • On the Train
  • From the Desk of Gilmer C. Merton
  • Death of the Island Doctor
  • Redbeard
  • The Boy Who Hooked the Sun
  • Parkroads — a Review
  • Game in the Pope's Head
  • And When They Appear
  • Bed and Breakfast
  • Petting Zoo
  • The Tree Is My Hat
  • Has Anybody Seen Junie Moon?
  • A Cabin on the Coast
  • Christmas Inn

All the stories in this collection are good, so it was a bit difficult to choose my favourite stories. If I had to choose the best story, I'd choose "The Fifth Head of Cerberus", because it's an excellent example of literary science fiction. It's a fantastic and a bit cryptic story, because its secrets are revealed gradually to the reader. It's a story, which must be read from start to finish in one sitting without pauses in order to fully appreciate what's going on.

That's all I'm going to say about these stories, because I think that every reader should make their own opinions about them.

Because all the stories are worth reading, I highly recommend this collection to all readers who like good speculative fiction. Gene Wolfe's stories are excellent and they make the reader think about different things. I must say that it's truly amazing how versatile a writer he is - he can write almost anything from fantasy to science fiction. Besides being versatile he writes rich and nuanced prose.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

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