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|Print List Price:||£37.50|
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Home Fires Kindle Edition
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Also typical for Wolfe is the fantasy world that the characters inhabit. In this case, we are ostensibly in a near-future earth of space travel, war against an alien enemy (who are never described in any way) and a post-oil economy. However, nothing is straightforward and the poetic writing style doesn't help the plot progress quickly or clearly. You have to be patient with Wolfe - you can't hurry him.
Despite the feeling this is our future - the main action of the novel is closer to an Agatha Christie novel featuring Hercule Poirot on a cruise ship. The dialogue is anachronistic - so while we have mobile phones and spaceships, the men dress in formal suits with bow ties and smoke cigars. The language is closer to the 1930s than anything futuristic, with manners drawn from a less casual age.
As mentioned before, for the majority of this novel, we are on a vast cruise ship that is powered through sustainable energy sources only - wind,solar - even manpower. It is in essence a detective novel, where Skip our protagonist has to save his lover and sort out the various plots to blow her up or kidnap here. That's once he has got past the complication of a hijack - possibly a topical reference to things like the Pirates in Somalia holding ships for ransom.
Apart from the detective aspect, Skip is also coming to terms with the aging process and how he can relate to his partner("contracta"), who is now younger than him, due to relativistic effects of space travel. In many ways this gives the book a more personal aspect - as all of us can relate to how you cope with aging.
In typical Wolfe style, not all the loose ends are tied up - but we have enough clues to work things out for ourselves. Never an easy read - at times infuriatingly slow or tangential, Wolfe makes us work but it's usually worth it. In this case it's a satisfying read, if not up to his best work.
It starts off with the home-coming of Chelle (just back from a distant war fighting faceless aliens on a distant world). Skip (the main narrator) resurrects her 'dead' mother as a surprise and then meets her as they're coming off the mothership. After this it really kicks off, with a cruise, pirates, gunfights, explosions, spy's.. I could say more but don't want to spoil any surprises that may appear!
It's a great novel, it's not a sci-fi or fantasy novel, though at a push it would tend to more sci-fi as the tech that is mentioned could be possible at some stage (saying that there is a distinct lack of technology - what with the Earth seemingly being in an energy crisis - the Bullet trains reach the heady speed of 70 kilometers per hour (twice as fast as a car). And the ships all use wind power to move around. I found it very easy to read - each chapter broken up with a smaller chapter there Skip's almost pondering his thoughts, and usually answering questions that you may have had from the previous chapter.
All in all - a very refreshing read. Only took me a few days to get through it and it was complex enough to keep my brain going. Hopefully we'll have a new book out from Gene Wolfe soon.
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