Island of Dr Death and Other Stories and Other Stories, The by Gene Wolfe

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Book Information  
AuthorGene Wolfe
TitleIsland of Dr Death and Other Stories and Other Stories, The
GenreScience Fiction
Book Reviews / Comments (submitted by readers)
Submitted by billy pretty 
(Aug 10, 2004)

This short story collection is really just that  a collection of unrelated stories, all penned by Wolfe at different times throughout the 1970s. There is no cohesiveness to this collection, which is its one and only major downfall, because most of the stories are very good, including a couple of real masterpieces. Fortunately, many of the stories are quite long, with at least five that might qualify as novellas, and these longer stories are the best. Tracking Song, the title story and its counterparts, The Death of Doctor Island and The Doctor of Death Island, are all good and all lengthy, as are Alien Stones and Seven American Nights. The Eyeflash Miracles was a bit odd but generally good, but I wasn't especially fond of Hour of Trust. Of the shorter stories, The Hero as Werwolf and Feather Tigers were my favorites, but not the only brief stories of value. There are a couple of semi-throwaway stories here, but they're so short that it doesn't really matter. In all, a very good read, but I quickly realized that as a general rule I prefer short story collections that reside primarily in a single world or deal with some of the same characters, issues, etc.
That said, I was truly blown away by Tracking Song, which stands right alongside the best of Wolfe's work  so imaginative, unpredictable, and beautifully written. Thinking about that story (now several weeks removed from its reading) immediately brings back the sense of desolation and struggle Wolfe creates in it. Wow is it fantastic. Two of the three title stories are similarly great, with a few others including Seven American Nights and The Hero as Werwolf only slightly behind. In some stories, Wolfe uses slightly askew narrative structure, revealing again his abilities to couch meaning within meaning, as I've discussed in the reviews of Latro in the Mist, Peace, and Book of the New Sun. A great book for fans of Wolfe or fans of imaginative short stories.
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