Gene Wolfe is producing the most significant body of short fiction of any living writer in the SF genre. It has been ten years since the last major Wolfe collection, so Strange Travelers contains a whole decade of achievement. Some of these stories were award nominees, some were controversial, but each is unique and beautifully written.
From Publishers Weekly
Not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach, this collection of Wolfe's stories published in the 1990s contains death by overdose, suicide, Armageddon, cruelty to animals, abuse of children, children willing to falsely accuse fathers of sexual abuse and a plethora of vampiric female figures eager to suck the life out of men. Opening with "Bluesberry Jam," Wolfe (The Book of the Long Sun series, etc.) creates an intriguing speculative future in which an entire culture arises from people who have been stuck in a traffic jam for decades. This conceit is ultimately negated, however, by the most tired of clich?s in the closing story, "Ain't You 'Most Done," which is set in the same world. Also included are two Christmas stories: "No Planets Strike," a relatively sweet tale in which genetically modified animals aid the next Christ child, and "And When They Appear," which is less sweet, involving wonderful, mythic figures who visit, but cannot save, a small boy from a world gone mad. While Wolfe's prose is exceptional and there are a few gems here, such as "Useful Phrases," which delights in how words lead us to and reveal mysteries, there are also several tasteless and misogynistic entries. Chief among them is "The Ziggurat," in which a mother coaches her daughters in the art of false accusation and the father--whose wife leaves him broke-eventually regains all by finding a woman he can dominate and a technology he can steal. All too frequently in this volume, even when women show men "the pleasures of Hell," biting them till they bleed, men emerge loutish and triumphant. (Jan.) FYI: Wolfe is a recipient of the World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement.
From Library Journal
Two tales featuring a pair of musicians wandering down an endless highway filled with stalled cars ("Bluesberry Jam"; "Ain't You Most Done?") frame this collection of 15 short stories by the award-winning author of the "Book of the New Sun" series. Wolfe's eclectic talent runs the gamut from Russian folk tales to modern horror as he explores a landscape filled with ghouls, aliens, and chess-playing deities. Representing a decade of groundbreaking speculative fiction by a master of the genre, this volume belongs in most libraries.
Wolfe's latest collection holds 16 pieces that have appeared in an amazing variety of publications during the last decade. Their inspirations range from music in "Bluesberry Jam" to comic books in "Ain't You Most Done?," a tie-in to Neil Gaiman's famous Sandman series of graphic novels, which are about as far removed from caped-crusader stuff as one can imagine. But then, Wolfe occupies a distinguished position on the frontiers of both sf and fantasy by virtue of originality of subject, capable handling of detail, and command of language. Plot summaries don't do his work justice, but the only caveat to make is that some of the protagonists are initially repulsive, and at short length, there isn't much time to assimilate their complexities. Roland Green
From Kirkus Reviews
Fifteen stories, 199097, all more or less unclassifiable, gathered under an eminently appropriate title: Wolfe's first collection since Endangered Species (1989). The more science fictionflavored entries include: a woman pursued by the robot she helped develop; a collapse-of-civilization yarn about a little boy abandoned in a computerized house; and a strange trio of time-traveling female invaders. Yarns leaning toward fantasy: a far-future campfire horror story; an amusing yarn based on a Russian folk tale; an excruciating dilemma on the road to Hell; a human boy enslaved by the queen of the ghouls; some weird goings-on in a magic dollhouse; and, in a knottily Borgesian yarn, a phrase-book for an unknown language draws odd visitors to an old-fashioned bookshop. Elsewhere, there are two talking-animal clowns trapped on a planet where humans are oppressed by alien elves; a strange school in a low-tech future where a dead man thinks in Latin; and a space war controlled by God's chess game with the Devil. Finally, in the last story, a man, deprived of dreams in life, dies, only to become a character in the lead-off yarn about a permanent traffic jam that's developed a culture of its own. Painstaking and precise, though often wrought without recourse to ordinary logic: for readers who enjoy oblique, magisterial puzzles that don't necessarily have solutions. -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
"The greatest writer in the English language alive today . . . there is nobody who can even approach Gene Wolfe for brilliance of prose, clarity of thought, and depth in meaning."--Michael Swanwick
"Aladdin got three wishes from his genie. From Gene, you get fifteen, and they all come true."--Orson Scott Card
About the Author
Gene Wolfe has been called "the finest writer the science fiction world has yet produced" by The Washington Post. A former engineer, he has written numerous books and won a variety of awards for his SF writing. Gene is the winner of the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement, and many other awards. In 2007, he was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. He lives in Barrington, Illinois. Read online