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Home Fires

3.24  ·  Rating Details ·  663 Ratings  ·  113 Reviews
Gene Wolfe takes us to a future North America at once familiar and utterly strange. A young man and woman, Skip and Chelle, fall in love in college and marry, but she is enlisted in the military, there is a war on, and she must serve her tour of duty before they can settle down. But the military is fighting a war with aliens in distant solar systems, and her months in the ...more
ebook, 305 pages
Published January 18th 2011 by Tor Books (first published 2011)
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(showing 1-30)
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Very entertaining mind-bender from Gene Wolfe that ultimately makes full sense though for a long while keeps one guessing while adding new twists every page; the world building while scant in some ways is also excellent since we get all the little details we need about this future Earth split into several not-so-friendly blocks (NAU, EU, Eastasia, third world...) facing a war in space with the mysterious Os over habitable planets with no real inkling about the tech involved; a familiar but also ...more
Oct 27, 2010 Carolyn rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I know a book is not for me when around page 150 I start thinking of abandoning it. I very, very rarely abandon books. The only reason I finished this one was that it was such a quick read that I read it all in one sitting.
A book full of 'tell' and almost no show, the relationships of the characters and the adventure of the story are lost in the minute details and constant backtracking and explaining. Written like a lawyer doing a deposition, ultimately a book involving a romance and a hijacked
Jan 27, 2011 Stefan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Before Chelle left Earth to fight in the war against the alien Os, she contracted (entered into a civil marriage) with Skip. If she returned, more than twenty years would have passed for Skip but only a few years for her: Skip would be a successful, rich lawyer, and she’d be his beautiful, young contracta. Fast forward to the start of Home Fires, the latest novel by all-round genius Gene Wolfe: Skip is indeed a rich, successful partner in his law firm, and Chelle returns to Earth, still young an ...more
Noooot sure what I think of this one. In style and format it's very much what I expect from Gene Wolfe, having read a novel (or two?) and quite a few of his short stories, but I felt like there was something lacking. Not emotional involvement as such -- I haven't tended to have that with his writing. But, nonetheless, maybe some kind of vital spark?

Obviously Wolfe's a genius with narrators and the way he can spin a story round and round on itself is amazing, but Home Fires wasn't as good as I w
Skip is a successful and rich lawyer who has waited 20 years for his Contracta to return from a military mission in space. Due to space-time dilation only few months have passed for her and it's unclear if the old promise holds and if they can start living together. Skip arranges a cruise and a chain of unexpected events begins...

Wolfe draws a detailed picture of the future, and it's a grim one. I liked the way how it unfolds. There are no long descriptions, instead we learn about it through the
Robert Beech
Feb 12, 2011 Robert Beech rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In reading Gene Wolfe, the ground you stand on is as solid as an ocean swell, and when you find yourself sinking it will pick you up and throw you against the rocks if you're not careful. The book is a love story, a tragedy, a mystery, a pirate yarn, and a philosophical discourse at the same time. The plot centers around a couple Skip and Chelle. Chelle goes off to join the army while Skip stays home to mind the home fires (hence the title). The complication is that the enemy she is fighting is ...more
Shannon Bowman-Sarkisian
I don't really know how else to put this: I didn't like Home Fires. I wanted to - it had a fascinating premise (a couple falls in love, the woman goes into space for 20 years and returns home without aging, her partner is now middle aged), a threatening space war, and a Dollhouse-like premise of putting the personalities of dead people into the bodies of "employees." There's a lot going on here...and yet nothing happens, not really. We rarely see any action - usually a character just mentions wh ...more
Mar 10, 2011 Timothy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Famous for his "Book of the New Sun" series, Gene Wolfe's latest book, "Home Fires" is similar to that series in that it's something that really seems to defy description. However, the lack of words this book generates comes from the fact that there's essentially no plot whatsoever to talk about. When reading the product description for Home Fires, it gives the impression that this is a story of a love that transcends space and time. Sadly, that seems to be far from the case as there really seem ...more
Jan 29, 2011 Ivan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Don't trust the blurb. It makes it sound like some sort of sci-fi romance; it's not. It's a gritty, dark, frightening cyberpunk novel.

In terms of plot: this novel falls in squarely with the Long Sun/Short Sun series. You will find here the very same themes, plot elements and tropes, only darker and rawer.

In terms of prose: this might be the best Gene Wolfe writing yet. It's as clear, vivid and emotionally charged as a punch to the head.

A very, very wonderful book.
Jun 18, 2011 Elgin rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
I very much enjoyed Wolfe's Books of the New Sun and Books of the Long Sun so had great hopes for this one.
I found it very disappointing...a wandering plot line, casual but undeveloped reference to "aliens" with whom
humans are at war, a hijacking that seemed an excuse to add pages and another setting for a story that was
petering out. I guessed the ending midway through the book so nothing was surprising. Probably should not have
taken the time to finish it.
The premise of Gene Wolfe's Home Fires is that rich lawyer Skip Grison welcomes home his girlfriend Chelle, who has been in a distant star system fighting alien enemies. Due to relativistic effects, over twenty years have passed for Skip and he is now in his late forties, while for Chelle only a couple of years have gone by and she remains a young lady (but scarred by her military service). The two go on a cruise, and a variety of murders and other strange events occur, which turn Home Fires int ...more
Perry Whitford
The latest genre-bending exercise from Wolfe is based on an extremely interesting premise - how would relationships be effected by the time lags involved once we become space-faring folk?

Skip and Chelle Sea Blue (great name!) fall in love whilst students and become "contracted". She enlists in the military, there is an inter-galactic war being fought against the mysterious Os, and she must serve her tour of duty before they can settle down.

But her few months in active service are years in rela
Jun 29, 2011 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this was really delightful, another book from my attempt to read some scifi. I guess I'd put it in the same category as Lethem's _Gun with Occasional Music_ at being one of those cross-genre books that really do need all the different approaches to work. Here, we get a scifi setting (future earth with certain genre trappings, like "reanimation" which allows dead people's personalities to be added to living hosts, and an intergalactic war) and certain noir elements, like lots of detecti ...more
Michael Jones
This book transcends genres - there are elements of sci-fi, spy thriller, love story, mystery, military, psychological, and maybe a few others. It starts out with a soldier coming home from a war, but most of it winds up being on a cruise ship! But the cruise turns ugly, and suddenly it's about survival. It's amazing that Wolfe was able to make create continuity out of all the disparate elements; I give him major props for that.

The thing that I didn't like about the book, and the reason I didn't
Lisa Wolf
What an odd book. Home Fires is set at some indeterminate time in the future, when soldiers from Earth are engaged in battles on distant planets, fighting aliens for control of habitable worlds. Main characters Chelle and Skip are college lovers who become "contracted" (a legal construct which has replaced the more old-fashioned concept of marriage) right before Chelle ships out with the army. Her two years of service equate to twenty years on Earth, so Chelle returns at age 25 to a husband (con ...more
Jan 10, 2012 Eric rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's not useful to classify this book as a mystery, an espionage thriller, a sci-fi fantasy, or a law thriller, although you could do so because the story has elements of each. Wolfe's subtle, complex book is bigger than genre because it is driven not by genre convention but by compelling characters and science-based wonderment. (How would war in space actually work? What would be the effect on human relationships of time-dilating faster-than-light travel? What is the plausible condition of post ...more
Oct 08, 2013 Leif rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gene Wolfe has mastered a crystalline art of prose, precious, delicately strong, and increasingly unalterable. His trademark stylistic gestures are here – the conflicted, conservative male protagonist, the two-dimensional female cipher (object of male adoration / fascination and little else), the rapid dislocations of text to obscure plot points and the skilfully uncertain changed world of technological advances. But it's aging rapidly, like its author, and the increasingly conservative choices ...more
Aug 12, 2010 Ed rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf-fantasy, urthlings
While I found it to be an entertaining read, this is somewhat disappointing by Wolfe's standards. The narrative was fairly straightforward, which, depending on your view, may or may not be a good thing. I prefer my Wolfe novels to be a little more challenging. The action was often bogged down by long passages of less-than-scintillating dialogue, unfortunately. I did find Wolfe's take on a future in which Earth is close to being overpopulated to be rather interesting.
Bud Sparhawk
Apr 28, 2011 Bud Sparhawk rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Very disappointing read from Gene, who usually writes such complex and misleading scenarios. This one is mostly blather, with characters lacking much emotive force. Instead of complexity I found complication, instead of nuance I found explicit and endless conversations that ate up pages without revelation. Perhaps I am missing something, but I expected better of him.
Jun 04, 2013 Henrik rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
The author creates strange and fascinating scenes in an intriguing future world, and I wanted to like this science fiction love story. Unfortunately it was way too odd and fragmented for me. And it never pulled me in. Too distanced a narrative for me.
Ken Gloeckner
It'd be a mistake to try to categorize Wolfe's work and particularly this book. Even as a very respected scifi and fantasy novelist, Wolfe has always had one foot in the genres and the other firmly in literature. While reading through it, the noir themes and narrative structure seem pervasive (though I think some might disagree). This is not surprising to me but maybe that's my contribution to my reading of it (the last of his novels that I read, Evil Guest, was also heavily noir). But what else ...more
Dec 16, 2013 Alan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Steady and reliable sorts
Recommended to Alan by: Impulse
Skip Grison stayed on Earth. He kept the home fires burning, he did, becoming a successful partner in a New York City law firm, while his fierce and beautiful contracta Chelle Blue went off to war on a distant planet, and relativistic time dilation separated them by decades as well as light-years. Now Chelle is back on Earth, and seems ready to resume their life together. But...

There's always a "but," isn't there? Skip and his newly-returned Chelle go on a Caribbean cruise together, to get reacq
Jan 11, 2012 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Fine Novel of Near Future Earth from Gene Wolfe

A new novel from Gene Wolfe is always a cause for celebration, simply because he is one of science fiction and fantasy’s best prose stylists and storytellers. In his latest novel, “Home Fires”, Gene Wolfe echoes 1930s to 1950s pulp magazine science fiction in creating scenes and characters reminiscent of it, relying on old tropes pertaining to interstellar war, bringing the dead back to life, and robotics, and still striving to create high literar
Brian Clegg
Jan 22, 2015 Brian Clegg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gene Wolfe is possibly my favourite fiction author, full stop. So coming across a book by him I haven't read, in this case Home Fires from 2010, is something of a red letter day. I think it's fair to say that this novel is a minor addition to his works, but welcome nonetheless, with many of the trademark Wolfe characteristics.

Arguably there are three different types of Wolfe books. There are his collections of short stories, which can be beautiful and frustrating in equal measure. There are his
Sep 09, 2012 Tim rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Man I don't know what happened here. After devouring most of Wolfe's epic stuff I was pretty excited for something that sounded a little more low-key and restrained. But this was just too minimal, too barebones. Many of Wolfe's more interesting elements were on display: your unreliable narrators, casual miscommunications between characters, offhand comments about huge events happening behind the scenes, etc. but it failed to be more than the sum of its parts.

The setting seemed just contemporary
Maria Farrell
I hadn't read a Gene Wolfe book in years, and this one puzzled me, making me wonder if all I'd loved about the Book of the New Sun series so long ago was actually true. It's a Forever War type premise; soldier goes to fight a war light years away, and comes back to find loved ones have aged. This time the soldier is a woman, Chelle, and her husband (contracto) is now a middle-aged lawyer.

It starts off with an odd but intriguing character set-up. Skip wants to give his returning lover a gift she
Randolph Carter
Eat me out!
Not real bad but not good either. Seemed like a below average PKD novel to me. The character's behaviors and the situations actually presented were so bizarre that I found them unbelievable. There wasn't really any meta-level reason for this so it just seemed weak to me. The plot was sort of a mystery mostly aboard this huge sailboat sometime in the not too distant future. There was so much talking about the mystery itself that you really didn't care eventually who killed who and why.
Anna Maria
Mar 05, 2016 Anna Maria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Home Fires is a science fiction novel which reads like a mystery novel. As always with Wolfe, the setting is established through dialogue rather than description and the science fiction elements (such as brain scans and cyborgs) exist to create the complex mystery that the novel is centred around.

As a mystery novel I felt it was worked very well. While it is quite complex with several different plot strands and a few questions left open-ended, it is more straight-forward than many other Wolfe n
Jan 30, 2011 Jason rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-books, read-2011
2 stars but it is written at a much higher quality. This is my first Gene Wolfe novel and I can see why his fans hold him in such high regard. This novel is a futuristic sci-fi lite mystery that is driven by it's characterizations. Skip is a very interesting, intelligent, and crafty protagonist who does well at adapting to his upside down world. I enjoyed the first half but found myself wishing for more science fiction and a little less dialogue. From that point on I totally lost my connection w ...more
Feb 17, 2012 Matt rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I began Home Fires not expecting too much after reading the synopsis:

"In a future North America at once familiar and utterly strange, a young man and woman, Skip and Chelle, fall in love and marry. But Chelle is enlisted in the military, there is a war on, and she must serve her tour of duty before they can settle down. Earth is fighting a war with aliens in distant star systems, and Chelle's months in the service will be years in relative time on Earth".

I remember saying to myself, "Oh, well. T
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Gene Wolfe is an American science fiction and fantasy writer. He is noted for his dense, allusive prose as well as the strong influence of his Catholic faith, to which he converted after marrying a Catholic. He is a prolific short story writer and a novelist, and has won many awards in the field.

The Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award is given by SFWA for ‘lifetime achievement in science fict
More about Gene Wolfe...

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“We think that we know a man or a woman, when so much of what we know is actually that man's or that woman's situation, his or her place on the board of life. Move the pawn to the last row and see her rise in armor, sword in hand.” 16 likes
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