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From: Michael Andre-Driussi <mantis@siriusfiction.com>
Subject: (urth) Tolkien essay, pre-publication history
Date: Fri, 4 Jan 2002 14:14:15 -0800

We are told that Gene Wolfe's Tolkien essay was written for that book of
essays on Tolkien, but it was not published there after all, and was
published in "Interzone."

Following these facts, there has been some speculation as to how or why the
book editors may have rejected the essay on aesthetic grounds.  In addition
to all the Religion & Politics stuff.

I know the pre-publication history of a number of Wolfe stories--yes, it is
true, however shocking/comforting it might be, that Gene Wolfe stories are
sometimes rejected by genre magazines, even in the last ten years.  So
rejection is naturally not impossible.

But with regard to this essay, since I doubt very much that any "rejection
speculation" is based on second-hand evidence, I'm going to offer some
incidental second-hand evidence.

In June of last year I received a letter from Gene Wolfe.  Mostly it was
about many other things, but in the end he did mention that he was having
difficulty with the company that was supposed to publish his Tolkien essay.
They wanted him to secure written permissions for =every= quote, including
the personal letter from Tolkien to Gene Wolfe and the poem by Noyes (who
died in 1958).  (Those of us who have read the essay also would add Robert
E. Howard, at least.  There are a lot of quotes!)  This seemed insane to
Gene Wolfe, in the modern day where Harlan Ellison is trying so hard to
stop people from web-publishing entire sf stories without permission from
the sf author.

(Well those of us who have followed such things in US publishing can say,
"Thank you, J.D. Salinger.")

In any event, Gene Wolfe wrote pretty unambiguously in the letter that the
project was dead from his point of view.  Non-compliance on his part.

And lo, the essay did not appear in the US book; but it did appear in a UK

So it seems to me that if there was any "rejection" involved with the
Tolkien book, it was Gene Wolfe's rejection of the terms and subsequent
withdrawal of the essay.


Sirius Fiction
booklets on Gene Wolfe, John Crowley

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