Gene Wolfe is (in)famous for writing stories which seem to be straight-forward and placid on the surface, but which contain hidden depths and paradoxes.

One of his favorite tricks is playing with your idea of what the story REALLY is... his exploitation of the unreliable narrator and shifting point of view leads the reader to the realization that there is a story behind the story -- that the narrator is not the person that he says he is, the narrator says he has a perfect memory but is mistaken (or the narrator has no memory at all!), the narrator is lying or missing out pieces of information to protect himself or others... One of my favorite applications of this technique is Peace, which is on the surface a remembrance of times past in an idyllic small town by an old man, but is actually a series of murder mysteries by a man who may be among the dead himself.

Wolfe's opus has to be The Book of the New Sun, a series of four books which borrows the conceit of a dying earth from Jack Vance and tells the story of Severian the Torturer, the messiah with an eidetic memory who will bring the new sun.

Gene Rodman Wolfe, author, 1931-

Wolfe is a prolific writer of incredibly intricate, multi-layered stories whose works are little known outside the science fiction set, and seldom fully appreciated within it.

Born to the American midwestern middle class, Wolfe served a tour in the Korean conflict before taking an engineering degree. He was editing a trade journal named Plant Engineering when he realized he was selling enough of his fiction to quit the day job and write full time.

Originally a "nominal Presbyterian", Wolfe converted to Roman Catholicism, his wife's religion, after studies he made in catholic theology convinced him of its truth. He acknowledges a literary debt to G. K. Chesterton and C. S. Lewis, but too much has been made of the Catholic influence in his writing by that breed of academics who breeze past an author's writing on the way to explicating it.

According to Wolfe, no definitive bibliography of his published writings exists. The following, then, is offered only as an appetizer, a very abbreviated menu of Wolfe's most famous novels.

Wolfe is still writing, as of 2004, and has told many, many wonderful stories that are not listed in this brief sampler.

Wolfe is far less well known than his merits deserve. "Serious" literary critics automatically dismiss any book with the slightest tincture of science fiction about it, while gushing on cue over the latest drivel to be excreted from the big publishing houses' assembly lines. It won't matter in the long run; when time washes away the myriads of "commercially correct" formula novels and leaves only the works of substance standing, our generation will be seen to have produced no greater master of the English language than Gene Wolfe.

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