TagGene Wolfe

Gene Wolfe, ‘Seven American Nights’ (1978)

I’ve enjoyed Gene Wolfe’s novels in the past, but always seem to end up disappointed by his short fiction. ‘Seven American Nights’ is a novella in which one Nadan Jaffarzadeh travels to anAmericawhose civilisation collapsed as a result of genetic damage; whilst there, he becomes infatuated with an actress he sees on stage.

I don’t find the story of Nadan’s journey engaging; don’t feel the sense of uncertainty that I’d expect from a subplot concerning whether or not he has ingested a hallucinogen; and the twist ending and odd moments of disjunction between Wolfe’s ruinedAmericaand the one we know are not enough to carry the story. Not one for me.

Rating: **½

This is one of a series of posts on the anthology Not the Only Planet.

Gene Wolfe, ‘Leif in the Wind’ (2010)

Wolfe is one of the greats of science fiction, but I found this story only averagely satisfying; it feels curiously old-fashioned to me. The tale focuses on the three surviving members of a six-person crew sent to explore an alien planet. One of the crew, Leif, is outside the ship as we join the story, and apparently hallucinating. On his return, Leif claims to have brought birds aboard ship with him; his crewmates, Ena and Brennan, doubt him – but soon have reason to question their assumptions.

‘Leif in the Wind’  revolves around the question of whether or not Leif is actually hallucinating; there’s some ambiguity along the way, but not enough, I don’t think, to sustain the story. And I don’t really feel the claustrophobic atmosphere for which the tale seems to be aiming.

Rating: ***

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