The Wolfe Archipelago

Gene Wolfe
The Wolfe Archipelago Cover

The Wolfe Archipelago


This book has very special meaning to me because it was published by my father and uncle when I was a kid. I was absolutely captivated with the cover art and interior illustrations. Forty years later, I've finally taken the time to read it properly, and what a wonderful read it is!

The stories are all great and a couple are award winners. Titles of all four stories are obviously rearrangements of the words doctor, death and island, but are otherwise unrelated, stand-alone tales. Though the oldest of these stories was written very early in Wolfe's writing career, he still shines with beautiful prose and a lot of the big words that add depth and uniqueness to his style. He was nominated for the Nebula award for that one, and the award presenter at the ceremony, Isaac Asimov, incorrectly called him out as the winner. Once the applause and congratulations had died down, Asimov was corrected, and no award was given for best short story that year, much to his embarrassment, and probably Wolfe's as well. Apparently he recommended to Wolfe, and a little tongue in cheek, that he write THE DEATH OF DOCTOR ISLAND next, and he was sure to win because of the mishap. Of course Wolfe did just that, possibly thinking that Asimov wasn't serious and didn't think that it could really be done. Not only did he pull it off with flying colors but went on to fulfill Asimov's prophecy, winning the Nebula, and very much deservedly.

I recommend diving into this book blindly, without having read any synopses or spoiler reviews. Enjoy!