November 20th, 2007

Gene Wolfe's Pirate Freedom

The new issue of Realms of Fantasy is out, and though the magazine itself is terrific, the web site is still a work in progress.  Each issue, I contribute a long book review column, with Jeff VanderMeer also reviewing fiction and graphic novels.  Together, we cover at least ten books each issue, sometimes more.  I think we make a pretty good team!

Anyway, I've decided that I'm going to start posting a representative review of one book from each of my columns.  Hopefully it will entice people to buy the book and the magazine!  I honestly don't think the magazine receives the respect it deserves, especially around award time.  Editor Shawna McCarthy really does a superb job. 

So without further ado . . . 

Christ-like figures have been a notable feature of Gene Wolfe’s novels for some time.  Wolfe is a Catholic, and Christianity is often present by implication or allegory in his fiction, whether called by that or some other name, yet I can’t recall Wolfe ever incorporating his religion as overtly into a novel as he does in Pirate Freedom (Tor, New York, hardcover, 320 pp., $24.95, ISBN: 978-0-7653-1878-7).  That alone makes this deceptively breezy book a significant one for avid readers of this fascinating writer.  Beneath the irresistibly sun-splashed surface of a boy’s own adventure story set aboard pirate ships cruising the Caribbean in the early 18th century is a novel that raises profound questions about faith, religion, and the consequences of attempting to discern, and live in accordance with, God’s will and Christ’s example.  It’s a haunting book, a surprisingly dark book, whose shadows counterpoint the Caribbean sun, a book I found distasteful in many ways.  It is also a small masterpiece.


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Free fiction at COSMOS

Top-notch fiction and fact writer Damien Broderick wears a third hat: fiction editor at COSMOS magazine. Below, he informs us of some new free fiction at their website:

Here's another (comparatively longish) story from COSMOS, now free online:

Ganymede Dreams

Issue 12 of COSMOS, December 2006/January 2007
by Christopher K. Miller


Posted by Paul DiFi.
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Echoes of Dunsany

[Click once, then again, for maximum satisfaction]

Isn't this a great illo? Years ago, I ripped it out of a magazine from the 1920's called COLLEGE HUMOR. You can see some great cover scans of that zine here:

I no longer have that issue, so all provenance for the picture is lost. Too bad....

It's by the amazing Franklin Booth. And I don't see it reproduced at any of the links from his Wikipedia entry.

Every time I study it, I fondly recall one of my favorite stories: Lord Dunsany's "Idle Days on the Yann."

Posted by Paul DiFi.