Friday, April 24, 2015

Eternal Questions

A lovely article at The New Yorker about Gene Wolfe.

Wolfe has published more than twenty-five novels and more than fifty stories, and has won some of science fiction and fantasy’s most prestigious awards. But he has rarely, if ever, been considered fully within the larger context of literature...Wolfe himself sees the trappings of science fiction and fantasy, the spaceships and so on, as simply “a sketchy outline of the things that can be done.” But even within fantasy fandom, Wolfe’s work presents difficulties. His science fiction is neither operatic nor scientifically accurate; his fantasy works are not full of clanging swords and wizardly knowledge. But ask science-fiction or fantasy authors about Gene Wolfe and they are likely to cite him as a giant in their field. Ursula K. Le Guin once called Wolfe “our Melville.”

The article seems to imply that Wolfe should be more well known outside the field. Perhaps. Perhaps not. Wolfe seems to do well enough within the field even if, as it is implied in the article, his works are somewhat like the works of Samuel R. Delany (especially Dhalgren): more owned than read. No big deal, there are fans who appreciate Wolfe (as there are fans who appreciate Delany) and spend endless hours (decades) debating Wolfe's works.

His narrators may be prophets, or liars, or merely crazy, but somewhere in their stories they help to reveal what Wolfe most wants his readers to know: that compassion can withstand the most brutal of futures and exist on the most distant planets, and it has been part of us since ages long past.

And there's his worth and why you should read him.

No comments:

Post a Comment