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Date: Wed, 25 Jun 2003 12:53:35 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: RE: (urth) How would you rate Wolfe as a short story writer?
From: "Sam Keyes" 

I, too, am really still unfamiliar with most of Wolfe's short fiction
(though I did just buy Island of Doctor Death).  I wonder if this seeming
discrepancy is inevitable (and given what Wolfe has said about doing "big"
projects, he knows this too).  I mean, in the world of fiction, quantity
does, perhaps more often than we would like to admit, tend to accompany
high quality.  So maybe it's not that Wolfe is weaker in short stories,
but rather that short stories, formally, are usually weaker--or, I ought
to add, weaker at asking the questions and playing the games that Wolfe
likes to do, which are usually on a grand scale.


> Anthony, we've had this debate before on the list and I agree with you
> (as did a few other listers, Alga I think began the discussion).  I
> think Wolfe is a superb novelist, particularly when he is writing a
> multi-volume work.  But his short stories IMHO have been good certainly
> but not up to the high standard set by his longer fiction.  Perhaps he
> is a victim of his own success: his novels set the bar so high that
> anything less seems rather ordinary.  Very few of Wolfe's short stories
> grab me the way, say, Ted Chiang's do.
> But in fairness to Mr. Wolfe I must admit I have not read The Island of
> Doctor Death and Other Stories (and Other Stories), which is generally
> considered to be his best work in the genre. I'm smack dab in the middle
> of Alastair Reynold's "Chasm City" and Norman Spinrad's "The Void
> Captain's Tale" right now, each of which is excellent in its own way.
> TVCT strikes me, actually, as rather Woflean in style, perhaps because
> it is baroque and lyrical and filled with metaphors (although slightly
> more obvious than Wolfe) a la TBOTNS.  Chasm City, on the other hand,
> although it certainly can be read on multiple levels is really just more
> of an excellent and very well written page turner.
> - Joe
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