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Funnily enough his short-short works here tend to be his lesser works. So maybe Wolfe is better off in the novella format? I'd recommend this to readers who enjoy intelligent fiction but don't feel a great need to connect to character. Sounds odd yet I enjoyed the majority of tales - some are really fabulous.

You'll notice a penchant of Wolfe titling stories here with 'death' or 'island' or 'doctor' here - don't ask me why - went well above my head But they are all great stories. But is the boy also part of a larger dark fantasy tale? A great story to open with. In fact very average.

Liked it. Island" - A wonderful story. Cold with the ever present threat of violence.


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This is one of the all time classics. A psychological exploration of violence, relationships and survival. A must read, but not one for the faint hearted - brutal characters in a psychotic sense. Companies are becoming nations in this world - sound familiar doesn't it? The concept is compelling and makes this a strong work, although it may lack the final touch for those after a strong human narrative. Combines the primitive with the futuristic. An ice landscape in which humans have evolved in a variety of ways. A story celebrating our survival. You can't connect with anyone, but still, works a treat.

Loved it. Shouldn't have made the collection. Thought it worked and showcased Wolfe's style.


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Superb story to end on. Also a play on Arabian nights stories. An Iranian boy visits a backwards US so he can ingratiate himself with its traditional culture. Loved it! View all 8 comments. Mar 02, Manny rated it really liked it Shelves: science-fiction , the-tragedy-of-chess , too-sexy-for-maiden-aunts , well-i-think-its-funny. Chess problem composers do this thing they call "tasks", where the challenge is to create a problem which has some unusual formal property.

The most famous one is the so-called "Babson Task". You have to compose a problem in which White plays and forces mate in a certain number of moves. Black can defend by promoting a pawn, after which White will also promote a pawn, and it must be the case that if Black chooses to promote to a Queen, White can only win by promoting to a Queen; if Black promote Chess problem composers do this thing they call "tasks", where the challenge is to create a problem which has some unusual formal property.

Black can defend by promoting a pawn, after which White will also promote a pawn, and it must be the case that if Black chooses to promote to a Queen, White can only win by promoting to a Queen; if Black promotes to a Rook, White can only win by promoting to a Rook; if Black promotes to a Bishop, White can only win by promoting to a Bishop; and if Black promotes to a Knight, White can only win by promoting to a Knight.

The best chess problem composers in the world tried fruitlessly to solve the Babson Task for over 50 years, and it was widely believed impossible; then, to everyone's surprise, an unknown Russian soccer coach called Leonid Yarosh succeeded in If you're interested in the details, there's a very nice account here. I think similar thoughts were going through Gene Wolfe's head when he put together this collection. It's not quite as difficult as the Babson Task. None the less, I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered that it was also possible.

View all 5 comments. Jul 25, Adam rated it it was amazing. I could also have used chilling, intriguing,mystifing,bizarre,funny, and anything t "Tracking Song" is one of the best stories ever.. I could also have used chilling, intriguing,mystifing,bizarre,funny, and anything that implies anything evocative of thought and emotion.

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The Island of the Women and Other Stories

Dec 17, Zach rated it it was amazing Shelves: short-stories , science-fiction. I had originally given this 4 stars, just because some of the stories here didn't do that much for me relatively speaking , but based on the amount of thought I've devoted to "Tracking Song" since reading it, I'm bumping it to 5 for that story alone.

View all 7 comments. May 22, Andrew Horton rated it really liked it Recommends it for: people who want to expand into weird and underappreciated short fiction. Shelves: ithinkthisiswhereiputstuffivefinish. There's a popular blurb that says that Philip K.

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Dick was our Borges or Calvino, but that people don't know that because he mostly wrote Science Fiction. I think it's safe to put Gene Wolfe in that category - what he's doing, especially in his short stories, easily joins the ranks of Calvino, Borges, Barthleme, Nabokov, and even Joyce, and in many cases surpasses them. Since Wolfe is primarily thought of as a science fiction author, he isn't a household name in the way that the aforementioned ar There's a popular blurb that says that Philip K. Since Wolfe is primarily thought of as a science fiction author, he isn't a household name in the way that the aforementioned are, and that's a shame.

These stories are every bit as nuanced, intricate, and meta-everything. Jan 23, Allison rated it it was amazing. I grew up living next door to this author and am only now reading his work. I'm new to the genre, but really loved these stories. They're difficult and thought provoking, and almost better the second read. I'm hoping I run into Mr Wolfe around town and tell him how much I loved them!

Jan 14, Terry Tsurugi rated it it was amazing Shelves: favorite-short-story-collections. I'm rereading this book for the fourth time maybe I've lost track , going back to when I was in junior high, and I'm finding that my opinions of certain stories have changed over the years. I liked the title story a lot more than I remember, but I was shocked at how weak "Alien Stones" seems to me now.

Island" was originally my favorite story in the collection, but it didn't seem quite as good this time, even though I understood it better now than ever. That might be a case of I'm rereading this book for the fourth time maybe I've lost track , going back to when I was in junior high, and I'm finding that my opinions of certain stories have changed over the years. That might be a case of something being more enjoyable when it's veiled in a little mystery. But the biggest surprise so far has been "Tracking Song. Island" and "Seven American Nights". And usually for me, the earlier pleasures of youth are more intense, so if I really loved something when young, like this story, it would be impossible for me to reproduce that experience decades later.

But last night, I enjoyed this story even more than I ever did, and I felt like a kid reading with a flashlight under the covers. It seems perfectly written to me; I wouldn't change a single sentence. I love the way he evokes deep emotions and mind-blowing or deeply disturbing ideas in a few economic, master brush strokes. And my recent reading of Lovecraft adds more depth and richness to the sequences in the dead, underground city I'm also reminded of Borges' "The Immortal," another one of my favorite stories. Today, as paleontologists discover more new hominid remains and posit a prehistoric world in which an increasing multitude of different human species were living simultaneously and possibly eating each other to extinction, this story seems even more prescient.

Right now, I have to say that "Tracking Song" is definitely my favorite sci fi or fantasy genre short story, and one of my very favorite short stories period. I haven't gotten to "Eyeflash Miracles" or "Seven American Nights" yet, but I just had to write this review now while I'm still glowing from the euphoria of reading "Tracking Song. Jun 12, Perry Whitford rated it it was amazing. Throughout the 's Gene Wolfe was a more committed writer of short stories than he was a novelist. This collection features many of his best from that time, from very short yet puzzling pieces like 'La Befana' to, long, dazzling pieces such as 'Seven American Nights'.

I prefer Wolfe's longer short pieces, which could be considered novellas. He leaves so much out, even in his novels, that the shorter the story the less room he has to say enough to point you towards the stuff he leaves unsaid. The majority of the stories here are pages long, which is plenty enough time to give more than just a flash of meaning. I know that Wolfe's too smart for me half, so I need all the hints I can get!

The writing is, as usual, excellent throughout, familiar in places to the dense prose of The Book of the New Sun , which was a nostalgic pleasure for me after reading so many of Wolfe's more recent stuff, written in his sparser style. If you have just discovered Gene Wolfe through one of his classic novels and wondered how his short fiction compares, this is the best place to start in my opinion.

Dec 08, Shawn rated it liked it Shelves: r-comp-sfthdno. Yes, the fairly recent examination of Cornell Woolrich's short work was part of this process. This section covers "Wo- through Wh-" and so I find myself using interlibrary loan to track down various anthologies and comps.

Gene Wolfe's "Island Trilogy" of short stories is something I've long been intrigued by so I was happy to have the excuse to get them read - to put it another way, this is in service of noting that I didn't read anything else in this collection but the three stories Wolfe's main output is science fiction, not one of my great loves, so while I'm sure those stories are great and worth your time, they're outside my purview of interest. What we have here are three short stories, two of which were Nebula award winners although as the afterward notes, the first of these was a mistake and actually there should have been "no winner" in the category and all of which have titular variations on the word "Island", "Death" and "Doctor".

The stories are not linked in any way beyond that, except perhaps spiritually. No one attends for years until a male and female student show up. It's a short, fable-like rumination on the symbolism of islands in history and literature and is quite nice, if a bit ephemeral. Island", the longest piece here and written second, is a science fiction tale of the future of mental health treatment involving an orbital satellite near Jupiter a transparent globe filled with water and an artificial, self-regulating island where patients are isolated or their interactions limited, all in service of healing - or is it?

Island", who neither cares for nor doesn't care for his patients, because he's only a machine. Finally, there's the first and best - to me at least of these three tales, the not-sci-fi-at-all, kinda-Nebula award winning "The Island Of Dr. Death And Other Stories" from It tells the simple but heartbreaking story of a young boy living in reduced circumstances at a lonely, rundown seaside hotel with his addict mom, her sketchy boyfriend and occasional interactions with both dubious familial hanger-ons in search of money or matrimony and the characters from the cheap pulp adventure paperback he's reading.

And we also get a lot of stabs at meta-textuality and fiction overlapping with the purported real-world, as the popular culture absorbs inventive moves from the avant-garde and experimental fictions of decades past and don't get me wrong, I love me some good fictional overlap, done well, but it's become an easy trick in lazy hands. It is to Wolfe's credit that he falls into neither of these traps in a story written almost 40 years ago. The hero and villain and extraneous characters of the pulp novel don't exist in the real world although one party goer tripping on acid can vaguely sense them and there's no question if they do - they are obviously part of Tackman's coping mechanism.

And while the story is obviously underlining how important escapist fiction can be to a child who is in desperate need of escape especially resonant with those of whose childhoods occurred in the s , there's some sharp wisdom in how it presents the proffered, bittersweet condolences of pulp, because even that method of escape if fraught with simplifying perils as Dr. Death implies. An excellent, emotional and sadly human story, well-worth your time.

Wolfe has the wonderful ability to tell you just enough to make the story sing, but never overwrites. Oct 02, Alice Lee rated it it was amazing Shelves: science-fiction. This collection of short stories is my introduction to Gene Wolfe, and boy was it an immersive read. This is exactly the kind of writing that can stand the test of time; every story deserves to be read, re-read, and then read again, each reading shedding new light in ways that give the story an wholly different dimension in which to be appreciated.

For example, after reading Seven American Nights my favorite story from this collection , I spent hours poring over online discussions pertaining th This collection of short stories is my introduction to Gene Wolfe, and boy was it an immersive read. For example, after reading Seven American Nights my favorite story from this collection , I spent hours poring over online discussions pertaining this story, constructing my own theories, flipping through the pages again and again looking for clues that is either consistent or inconsistent with each theory, and subsequently attempting to refine my theories.

I finally have something interesting enough to occupy my brain during my walks to and from school. Now, of course if you don't have the patience for this kind of arguably obsessive analysis, don't dismiss Wolfe altogether yet; many of his stories are wonderful and engaging reads on their own. However if you prefer to have your author lay out every detail and leave no question answered, or prefer not to dwell on a story after the last page, then perhaps Wolfe may leave you unsatisfied.

His stories can be appreciated at face value for entertainment purposes, and then they can be as deep as you are willing to dig. Gene Wolfe is not the kind of author that sits down with a martini or after a joint and writes whatever comes to his mind for pages. You can tell that his stories are tightly planned out and constructed, with each sentence, each word pulling its own weight. Another notable piece is Tracking Song - a story he is particularly proud of if I'm not mistaken. May 01, Kyle Muntz rated it it was amazing. I just read through most of this for a third time.

It's an odd collection in some ways, since it's mostly made up of novellas--and almost all of them represent some of Wolfe's best work. In particular, the best stories here are full of moments so strange the're basically surrealism, except tied to this very meticulous storytelling and great prose. Some standouts for me are The Death of Doctor Island which has a really interesting, slippery use of dialogue, and so many brilliant scenes , Trackin I just read through most of this for a third time.

These tales are discussed in the first part of the essay as a prelude to understanding the more imaginatively disguised interactions between men in the slightly later stories. But a decade later, when Lawrence found himself in a similar position, he enacted a similar role.

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In all four, according to James C. Recently discovered letters from Lawrence to Frieda shed further light on their marital crisis Worthen and Harrison. He kept this secret even for himself […] He never accepted the desire, and received it as part of himself. They had fallen in the war. Alan with them. Then, gradually, a curious sense of degradation started in her spirit. She felt unsure, uncertain. It was almost like having a disease.

Life became null and unreal to her, as it had never been before. She did not even struggle and suffer. In the numbness of her flesh she could feel no reactions. Everything was turning into mud. WWRA Here, as Lee M. Marchbanks gave a strange, yelping cry, like a shot animal. His white face was drawn, distorted in a curious grin, that was chiefly agony, but partly wild recognition.

He was staring with fixed eyes at something. And in the rolling agony of his eyes was the horrible grin of a man who realises he has made a final, and this time fatal, fool of himself. Indeed the use of a Gothic device seems a convenient mask for the exploration of transgressive desire:. There was blood all over the sheets.

She rang the bell violently. Across the bed stood Alan, looking at her with his unmoving blue eyes, just watching her. And even as he howled it, he felt something nudging him in the ribs saying to him: Smile! Kaplan We might have pulled off some great things together, but you were divided — perhaps I was divided too.

Perhaps we came together, too late [ It would have been possible for us, had you been other than you are. Sedgwick 3. Kaplan 24; Campbell was writing in And so the story ends:.

The Island of Sea Women

The other man! In some subtle, inexplicable way, he was actually bodily present, the husband. The woman moved in his aura. She was helplessly married to him. Which of the two would fall before him with a greater fall? This imaginative self-persuasion that human sacrifice is lawful in a man who is so tender that only by an immense effort he can bring himself to shoot the vermin on his ranch, is a sickening perversity.

We do not blame Lawrence for his tenderness — God forbid! This is horrible. This licence to the imagination to commit the extremity of horror is given only by a soul that is sick unto death, and seeks release by self-laceration. Son of Woman Lawrence manifestly shared something of this state of suspended being during the period of his estrangement from Frieda in Sometimes I feel one might as well go on drifting about and wondering over it all. Then again I feel one ought to put a peg in the middle of it, and hitch on to a new life.

And one is very reluctant to nail down a purpose [ Worthen and Harrison In my world it is sunny and spacious [ It is the colour of what goes away and is never coming back, but which is always there, waiting like death among us. It is the colour of the dead. And it is the colour that stands away off, looking at us from the distance, that cannot be near to us. When we go near, it goes further. We are all brown and yellow and black hair, and white teeth and red blood.

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We are the ones that are here. You with the blue eyes, you are the messengers from the far-away, you cannot stay, and now it is time for you to go back. Despite their love for each other, Mi-ja and Young-sook's differences are impossible to ignore. The Island of Sea Women is an epoch set over many decades, beginning during a period of Japanese colonialism in the s and s, followed by World War II, the Korean War and its aftermath, through the era of cell phones and wet suits for the women divers. Throughout this time, the residents of Jeju find themselves caught between warring empires.

Mi-ja is the daughter of a Japanese collaborator, and she will forever be marked by this association. Young-sook was born into a long line of haenyeo and will inherit her mother's position leading the divers in their village. Little do the two friends know that after surviving hundreds of dives and developing the closest of bonds, forces outside their control will push their friendship to the breaking point. This beautiful, thoughtful novel illuminates a world turned upside down, one where the women are in charge, engaging in dangerous physical work, and the men take care of the children.

A classic Lisa See story - one of women's friendships and the larger forces that shape them - The Island of Sea Women introduces readers to the fierce and unforgettable female divers of Jeju Island and the dramatic history that shaped their lives. My first day of sea work started hours before sunrise when even the crows were still asleep. I dressed and made my way through the dark to our latrine. I climbed the ladder to the stone structure and positioned myself over the hole in the floor.

Below, our pigs gathered, snuffling eagerly. A big stick leaned against the wall in the corner in case one of them became too enthusiastic and tried to leap up. Yesterday I'd had to hit one pretty hard. They must have remembered, because this morning they waited for my private business to drop to the ground to fight among themselves for it.

I returned to the house, tied my baby brother to my back, and went outside to draw water from the village well. Three round trips, carrying earthenware jugs in my hands, were required to get enough water to satisfy our morning needs.

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Next, I gathered dung to burn for heating and cooking. This also had to be done early, because I had a lot of competition from other women Island of Sea Women will almost certainly extend See's streak of bestsellers. Every bit of it is as moving and intriguing as the other fine books in her catalog. This one will appeal most to those who enjoy novels about female friendships, as well as historical fiction aficionados. Also recommended to book groups as a fine selection for discussion.