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An Evil Guest

3.04 of 5 stars 3.04  ·  rating details  ·  707 ratings  ·  145 reviews
Lovecraft meets Blade Runner in a stand-alone supernatural horror novel. Gene Wolfe can write in whatever genre he wants—and always with superb style and profound depth. Now following his World Fantasy Award–winner, Soldier of Sidon, and his stunning Pirate Freedom, Wolfe turns to the tradition of H. P. Lovecraft and the weird science tale of supernatural horror.

Set a hun
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Paperback, 352 pages
Published June 26th 2012 by Tor Fantasy (first published 2008)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,233)
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Monty Merrick
Gene Wolfe has become one of my favorite living American authors. He always places an emphasis on character. As far as his standalone novels go (he has a few books that belong to a series, as you may know, but I'll stay away from those for now), each of them seem almost like they could have been written by a different person.

People either hate or love this book. I loved it. It starts off pretty fast paced with an assassin/wizard? talking to a very hickish president about tracking down an ex-amb
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Randy
I really don't know what to say about this book.

I'm a complete, card carrying Gene Wolfe fan. I buy all of his works as they come out in hardcover. I rave to any and all about the man and am in complete awe of his genius.

But . . .

I just can't get over my first impression of this book. Frankly, it's a stinker.

But, given that it's Gene Wolfe, perhaps, just perhaps, the book will run like a program in my memory and at some point I'll suddenly see it.

Don't think so. This is more likely that this is
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Danielle Parker
Does anyone remember how often those distorted mirror fun-houses showed up in the old movies? They were practically a staple of the old Charlie Chan series and a number of the early Twilight Zone movies. Evil fun-house mirrors even showed up to distress a modish Emma Peel and John Steed (at a Christmas mind-game party, no less).
Perhaps thrills and chills were more simply obtained back then. It was worth the price of a few coins to gawk or giggle at one’s vastly distorted image, now rotund as a
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Julie Davis
Gene Wolfe Doesn't Get the Feminine Mind-Set
Warning: spoiler in the last paragraph.

An Evil Guest by Gene Wolfe is a pulp thriller that includes aliens, South Sea gods, and two enigmatic men vying for the hand of a young actress on the rise. Imagine the results if Raymond Chandler, H.P. Lovecraft, and Walter B.Gibson (creator of The Shadow) all conspired to write a book together, set 100 years in our future. Despite how odd that sounds, the first two-thirds of the book is fairly straight forward
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Ivy
Yikes! This book was awful. I don't normally write reviews unless a book is so amazing that I can't keep it to myself but this one I have to warn others about. This comes from a pretty prolific author from the long list of novels shown on the inside cover so I'm bummed that this was the first book of his I picked up. I'm not sure where the author was trying to go with this one as it was all over the place. It starts off with a government conspiracy feel then flips to science fiction, on to fanta ...more
Benjamin
Other than being a very good writer, Gene Wolfe is known for two things: he's often a difficult writer and he's a very Catholic writer. (Which is not to say that he's particularly orthodox about Catholicism, only that he often weaves in Catholic themes.) In his most famous works, the Book of the New Sun series, Wolfe uses a very baroque style of language and he plays with genre in a way which could be seen as challenging or treacherous. (It depends on what you think about genre as a contract. Fu ...more
John
A delirious swirl of genres - sci-fi, noir thriller, Lovecraftian horror - An Evil Guest is the tale of a superstar actress who gets caught up in a number of knotty plots and dark intrigues. It is a fast-paced page turner that reads remarkably quickly for a Gene Wolfe novel, a writer normally fond of baroque language and complex prose. In fact, the bulk of the text is dialog, reading almost like a screenplay at times. But the simplicity is deceptive: like a mixed drink where you can't taste the ...more
Travis Heermann
Gene Wolfe has clearly earned his Grand Master title, but I'm not sure if this book isn't trying to be too smart for its own good. I spent much of this novel feeling as if everything was slightly askew, as if 95% of the action was happening off-stage, given only brief glances of larger machinations afoot, not all of which are adequately explained.

The heroine, Cassie Casey, aspiring actress, is dragged into strange interplanetary dealings between Earth and the planet Woldercan, by a wizard, Dr. G
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Sean
First impression: Great writing, terrible characterization, illogical plot, interesting premise, tantalizing mythology/magic/science, anticlimactic ending.

But! He comes so highly recommended!

But–but! That doesn't matter if his writing doesn't work for me.

But-but-BUT! The book is so stylized that the above negatives were probably intentional! After all, it's clearly not only a pastiche of at least three different styles/genres but also an exercise in deconstructing narrative and genre at a very b
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Nikki
I thought when I got to the end of this book I'd know what to think of it, but nope. I still don't know what to think. I feel like, since this is Gene Wolfe we're talking about, it must be genius and I just don't see it. Like people who somehow read Tolkien and just don't have the mindset that can appreciate the glories of his best work. Especially since people like Neil Gaiman think it's genius.

But. Everything else tells me that this is near-incoherent, with characters who seem devoid of inner
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Eric
There's a lot of talking in this book. A lot. In fact, the entire thing is one endless conversation. Wolfe is a good writer so most of it is pretty clever. But some of it isn't. For example, here's a sample aphorism from one of the main characters: "Add nothing to God and you get good." Even with a laugh track, that nugget is a groaner.

I tell you, the whole thing just wore me out. At some point I lost patience with it. To paraphrase Elvis: "I need a little less conversation and little more actio
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J.
I discovered Gene Wolfe more than twenty-five years ago, when I first read Book of the New Sun, and have been following him ever since. He has been hailed as a modern day Melville, at ease in both the novel and short story genres. He’s disappointed me only three times: The Wizard Knight diptych and Pandora by Holly Hollander. The former just never measured up to what I’ve come to expect from Wolfe; the latter because he fell short writing from the female perspective. His last novel, Pirate Freed ...more
Andrew
While this book isn't worthless by any means, I felt when I was reading it as if an essential part of it was missing. It took me a while before I was able to hit on quite what that was, and I'm still not sure I'm entirely right, but my best guess at this point is that character development is completely left out. The main character, Cassie Casey, is an actress who becomes enmeshed in a complex plot involving government black ops, a billionaire with a shady reputation and strangely easy access to ...more
Sarah B.
First of all, I love the other Wolfe novels l have read, and I consider myself a fan. With this novel, though, I was disappointed. I see what Wolfe was going for in this one -- sort of a retro-future noir-sci-fi mash-up. And for the most part, I was there with it and interested. But in the end the novel didn't work for me, mostly because the dialogue wasn't quite right. I think Wolfe was trying to achieve a His Girl Friday retro feel, but to me it felt over-wordy, chatty, and distracting from th ...more
Adam Burton
Well, I was not encouraged by my friend Athena's review of the first 75 pages of this book, but as I was the one who requested that the damned thing be purchased for the library, I felt I should at least give it a try. As it was purported to be Lovecraftian, I went in really, really wanting to like it. I even finished the thing, despite my dislike for it. All in all, it felt like I was reading a Sherlock Holmes story if it had been written from the perspective of Mrs. Hudson, the landlady, only ...more
Leif
"Gold is the kindest of all hosts when it shines in the sky, but comes as an evil guest to those who receive it in the hand." Simonides of Ceos

So begins the newest Gene Wolfe novel. Rather than creating a mythopeaic saga, An Evil Guest is a story that is complex but accesible, fast-paced but fleshed out, and innocuously evil. If this sounds like mixed praise, well, it is. While Wolfe appears to be hitting all his targets, it seems like he's only firing with one gun, and his other hand is still s
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Jon Forisha
I love Gene Wolfe. He's easily one of the most talented and unique writers currently living.

This book is strange. It's very odd. It is, however - like much of Wolfe's canon - very well written. Instead of employing the maximalist style used in the Book of the New Sun (which you should read if you haven't), he goes the opposite direction and tells the tale in a very minimalist fashion. He hands you only what you need, and only halfway in did I realize he had woven hefty amounts of the Cthulhu Myt
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Bruce
It starts out well but becomes dissapointing somewhere in the middle. Exciting payoff at the end is too small and delayed too long.

Nor can Wolfe write female protagonists.

Sorry Gene, I've loved you for the 25 years since you published Shadow of the Torturer, etc., but this one doesn't do it for me.

I liked it more than Pirate Freedom and Soldier of Sidon. Though Pirate Freedom ended nicely.

PS: spot the -Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town- Cory Doctorow tribute (sentient mountain whose wi
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Heather Rose
What the eff did I just read... Seriously, can someone please explain it to me? Between the aliens and the werewolves, the flying bat creatures (aliens?) that can talk and are somehow all seeing and the people that can willfully go invisible/do magic, the sea creatures that worship the sea demon thing and the zombie assassins (who are sea creatures?)... I've never been so confused about the plot of a novel in my ENTIRE LIFE! Was I supposed to like Cassie? WHO IS CASSIE ANYWAY? Was I supposed to ...more
Rob Boley
A friend of mine recommended Gene Wolfe, so I randomly grabbed this novel from the library. I'm glad I did, because I've spent the last week immersed in an imaginative blend of crime noir, sci-fi, and Lovecraftian fantasy. This book is a wild ride, and I can say without reservation that whatever your expectations are, you'll get something completely different.

My only issue with the book is that at times I felt a bit too removed from the action, and I think that kept me from completely immersing
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Yolanda Casica
At first I couldn't decide what I thought about the story or the characters. This was about a third into the book, I suppose, so not very far in. The majority of the book does stay mysterious and sensual, which was a great tease. I'll admit I didn't believe the characters fell in love exactly when they did but individually they were terrific. The book is dark but not suffocating in the way it presents itself.

It took me a while to get into the story and when I did...man what a story. It constant
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John
Maybe the weakest Gene Wolfe novel I've ever read.
Nigel
A funny thing happened yesterday. I decided to stop reading a Gene Wolfe novel. Yup, I decided An Evil Guest just wasn't worth my time. I love Wolfe. Soldier of Sidon and The Wizard Knight were amongst my favurite reads last year, but this? Nope. It's set in the future but drenched in the past, and so triangulates on the present. Consequently, stuff that passes fine in his science fiction and fantasy becomes unbearably grating, specifically his patented 'dialogue as spoken by no living person, e ...more
Mike
I had added this to my to-read list a long, long time ago after seeing rave reviews along the lines of "Wolfe does Lovecraft right", and it's been gathering dust for a while.

I had really enjoyed Wolfe's Book of the New Sun series (despite how much it made my head spin); An Evil Guest surprised me with how little I enjoyed it. It has its moments, but getting to them is a slog through a boring story. I'm aware that Wolfe's whole thing is an ostensibly simple surface concealing something complex, b
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Chris
Oh, Gene. I was so excited when I read the dustjacket. Pulp 1930s Lovecraftian noir fiction by Gene Wolfe? I was salivating. But what's here does not deliver the goods -- not even slightly.


What this really looks like is two novellas mashed together with mostly the same characters, and only one of them is any good. The first two-thirds of the book reads like a Raymond Chandler detective-noir piece. It's almost all dialogue, and while the suspense is great and the characters interesting, it's like

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Ed
Apr 08, 2009 Ed rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Wolfe fans only
Shelves: sf-fantasy, urthlings
It's a fun read and the characters are endearing, especially Cassie Casey, a rare Wolfe female protagonist, but it's not one of Wolfe's better novels. It's kind of a mess and a pretty confusing one at that. Although Wolfe references Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos, he never actually successfully evokes the creepy feel of Lovecraft's writings. Cthulhu's appearance in the narrative just comes out of left field to a large extent. The first third of the book is the best part, with its rapid-fire, flirty ...more
Psychophant
The last books from Gene Wolfe had been a bit disappointing (which means good rather than excellent, so it is all relative). This one improves the average, though it is far from perfection.

The setting is bizarre, a future that resembles the 1930s, or rather, the future that was explored in the pulp tales of the 30s-50s (Flying Cars!). The plot and events are also pure pulp material, from the mysterious detective/wizard to the bad guy that is not really bad or the mysterious menace in a tropical
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Perry Whitford
Cassie Casey is an undistinguished actress with "latent" star quality. Dr. Gideon Chase is a philosopher, wizard and high stakes trouble-shooter, who hires Cassie to trap a mysterious and seemingly dangerous businessman, conjuring a "glamour" on her that unlocks her potential and renders her irresistible to all men.
Bill Reis is said businessman, a one time ambassador to the planet Woldercan, who has learnt some interesting physical tricks of his own as a result of the advanced biology on that w
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Molly
I revere Gene Wolfe, but like many others I have to pan this book.

Gene Wolfe often gives us a very passive hero to whom things just "happen". We also often get strange pointless dialog, out of context things said, and incredibly illogical behavior.

Unfortunately when he set this book in times he wanted to seem somewhat modern, and coupled it with a backdrop of a noir spy mystery, his usual tactics of character and plot development are out of place. A ditzy actress who blathers inanities almost c
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Grey Liliy
I don't think I was the target audience for this book--I wanted to like it, I did, but I can honestly say it wasn't for me.

Before I talk about why that's so, I will give credit where credit is due--it does have it's moments here or there that were enjoyable. The characters and descriptions are witty, and the dialogue is entertaining--to a degree.

It's been mentioned in other reviews, and I'm going to agree: There is so much dialogue in this book it's near overwhelming. The pages are covered in ne
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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
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More about Gene Wolfe...
The Shadow of the Torturer (The Book of the New Sun #1) Shadow & Claw (The Book of the New Sun #1-2) Sword and Citadel (The Book of the New Sun, #3-4) The Claw of the Conciliator (The Book of the New Sun #2) The Sword of the Lictor (The Book of the New Sun #3)

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