Castle of Days

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

While short stories gathered in the first third of this book may be marketed as science fiction, they are not science fiction in the sense of rocket ships or space travel. More often they are stories of alternate universes and odd happenings. The stories tend to end with a twist that leaves the reader going back and puzzling over the meaning.

The second part of the book, CASTLE OF THE OTTER, was first published under that title by a small press. Readers who are not already familiar with the BOOK OF THE NEW SUN series will probably want to skip this section. It includes a glossary of words used in BOOK OF THE NEW SUN, conversations and correspondence with the author’s agent, and reviews of the books in the series.

Part three is a mish-mash of essays, letters, speeches, and previously published items by the author, mostly pertaining to writers and writing. Some are interesting, but once again, some may be of interest only to Gene Wolfe fans, while new readers will be left puzzled, or worse yet, bored.

Taken as a whole, one must wonder just why this particular compilation was published this way. The first section of short stories, ending at page 204, might have fared better had it been published alone. And the rest of the book might have fared better had it been marketed to current Wolfe fans rather than filling out the back half of a short story collection.