Sunday, December 16, 2012

Grand Master Gene Wolfe

That's a nice phrase, isn't it?

SFWA announced on Thursday (hey, I've been busy!) that this year's recipient of the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award [1] will be the tremendously worthy Gene Wolfe.

I've groused about some Grand Masters in the past, but I have no complaints this time: Wolfe's work is smart, intricate, extensive, deeply rewarding and contains some of the best novels available in the SFF field. He already was a Grand Master, so it's good of SFWA to officially recognize that.

If you haven't read him, "The Book of the New Sun" is the canonical place to begin, but The Fifth Head of Cerberus is another good choice, and I personally always liked the somewhat lighter There Are Doors.

But you do need to know: Wolfe expects his readers to be smart and to attuned to small details; he doesn't make a habit of over-explaining and will only tell you some very important things once. So you need to actually read a Wolfe book, and not just skim over it, looking for the space-battle scenes.

[1] And I'm so happy that it's Wolfe that I'll forgo my usual sniping at the overgrown silly award name, which sounds like a football arena or an endowed university chair.

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