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"Memorare", by Gene Wolfe
Bar Harbor
alexx_kay
There's a movement afoot to get this story a Hugo award. The argument is that it's wrong that Gene Wolfe has never won a Hugo, and this is a really good story that stands a chance of winning.

Personally, I find it unsurprising that Wolfe has never won. I have made numerous attempts to read novels by him, and bounced off every time. I've made it through some of his short fiction, but rarely found it to my taste, or memorable.

Wolfe is very much a "writer's writer" -- which is not the same thing as a *reader's* writer. He consistently shows up on the favorite author lists of many of my favorite authors. This is why I made so many attempts to read his work. Eventually, though, I realized that I was falling for a literary equivalent of a classic Geek Fallacy: just as friendship isn't transitive, neither is 'favorite author'-ness. I'm happy that my favorite authors *have* other authors they like to read, but there's no particular reason to think that *I* will like them as well.

That said, "Memorare" is getting lots of good buzz, and it showed up in the Years Best Sf I was reading, so I went ahead and read it.

It's certainly more accessible than the average Wolfe story. There's a fair amount of adventure and sense-of-wonder, and their isn't any arch literary trickery to distract from the story. I enjoyed it, for the most part.

In a world where inter-system space travel is relatively cheap and easy, an indie filmmaker is working on a documentary about tombs. Some rich people had taken to turning asteroids into fancy tombs out around Jupiter and Saturn, complete with AI replicas of their living selves, or android servitors, or cunning death traps, in various combinations. He is eventually joined by three other characters, who have a complex web of dysfunctional relationships between them. In between the filming and escaping of death traps, there is discussion about the interrelationships between love, marriage, career, violence, and commitment.

This very nearly managed to be "the Gene Wolfe story I liked", but he lost me on the last page. The bulk of the story is set during the filming of the raw footage. The very end of it is the credits for the completed documentary. Those credits reveal that, somewhere in the intervening time, two of the central characters got married. After spending a huge amount of time showing us in detail just how incompatible these two characters were, he then just tells us, in almost the final words, that they somehow reconciled. I *think* it's meant to indicate a happy ending, though I can't say I'm entirely sure. Whatever his goal, he hasn't *earned* that ending, just declared it by authorial fiat.
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Thank you SO MUCH for posting the "Geek Fallacies" link. I had forgotten the main keywords and lost the link, but now it is safely ensconced in my del.icio.us under "wisdom".

I like The Devil in a Forest very much. It's a Wolfe novel and therefore classified as SF, but really it's historicalish fiction. It's set in England around the conquest, but all the action takes place in and around a small village and none of the characters are high enough social class or politically connected enough that The Conquest impacts on them. It's atmospheric, a little creepy at times, and just a Good Read.

But it's the only thing of his I've liked.

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