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4.04  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,287 Ratings  ·  130 Reviews
Mesmerizing sf from the author whom the Denver Post calls "one of the literary giants of science fiction." The melancholy memoir of Alden Dennis Weer, an embittered old man living in a small American midwestern town, reveals a miraculous dimension. For Weer's imagination has the power to obliterate time and reshape reality, transcending even death itself.
Paperback, 264 pages
Published 2002 by Gollancz (first published 1975)
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Greg Bates
Sep 06, 2013 Greg Bates rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, 2013
Congratulations on your purchase/borrowing/piracy of "Peace" by Gene Wolfe! We who have come before you hope you will be very, very satisfied with your purchase, and will come back to it for years to come! Before you enjoy your copy for the first (or second) time, here are some helpful tips:

1. Persevere through the first chapter. Although the first few pages of Peace are some of the best in the novel, there's a scene that takes place in a garden near the beginning of the book that can be a doozy
Jan 15, 2014 Szplug rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read for the second time during (and second favourite read of) this past summer. While he's not flashy, I find Wolfe to be a writer of considerably beautiful form and grace and pace, and this, one of his very first novels, displays that form to masterful effect. I originally read this in the mid-nineties, and partook of it for a second time this past August, when the endless sunshine and sultry heat seemed appropriate companions for the beguiling way in which Wolfe works his memes of mnemonic tr ...more
Alden Dennis Weir loses his knife and goes looking through his house for it. And sort of gets lost in some of the best prose of the late twentieth century. Everybody should read this book.
Stephen Case
Dec 15, 2013 Stephen Case rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of my favorite books. I still don’t completely understand this book. With Gene Wolfe this is not a problem (at least with his earlier works—for me, the jury is still out on some of his latest novels). His books are layered, and they always repay the slow, careful re-read. I’ve gone through this one at least three times now, and each time I pick up something new. Wolfe remains my favorite author, and Peace I think is an excellent introduction to his work, especially if you’re not comi ...more
Jun 11, 2008 Jay rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Subtle subtle subtle.

Some images I'll never shake out of my head.

This is the sort of book where...

You read a chapter,

you're like Huh interesting,

you go to bed,

then you sit bolt upright in bed and go No way!! He didn't! Did he???

But he did.
Aaron Jansen
Jan 22, 2013 Aaron Jansen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So Neil Gaiman wasn't lying, Gene Wolfe really can write. (Better than Neil Gaiman, in fact!) I was about ready to give up on him after losing interest halfway through his Long Sun books, and then losing interest halfway through his New Sun books, when I read the opening pages of this novel in an Amazon preview and was immediately drawn in. I decided to give him another chance.

Here is evidence that Gene Wolfe actually deserves a degree of the praise heaped upon him:

"And as if by magic—and it may
Sep 14, 2010 Simon rated it liked it
This is going to be one of those books that are exceedingly difficult to review and there's a danger that this could turn into a bit of a ramble. How do I even classify this book? It is alledgedly fantasy but if it is, it is only in the loosest possible sense of the word. This doesn't have much in common with any other works of fantasy I've ever read (except Wolfe's other works of fantasy such as The Book of the new Sun).

This is about a old man called Weer who is pondering, reliving or perhaps e
Darran Mclaughlin
Jul 28, 2012 Darran Mclaughlin rated it it was amazing
Absolutely extraordinary. It amazes me that Gene Wolfe isn't better appreciated when is is so obviously one of the greatest writers of the last 50 years. He is head and shoulders above most of the critically acclaimed writers who are always reviewed and discussed in the literary section of the broadsheet newspapers and high-brow magazines. This book is published as part of the Fantasy Masterworks series, although whether this book is fantasy or not is up for debate. It is such an original work o ...more
Aug 18, 2011 Sandy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although virtually unclassifiable, Gene Wolfe's 1975 novel, "Peace," was chosen for inclusion in both David Pringle's "Modern Fantasy: The Hundred Best Novels" AND Jones & Newman's "Horror: Another 100 Best Books." While the novel certainly does have shadings of both the horrific and the fantastic, it will most likely strike the casual reader--on the surface, at least--as more of an autobiography, telling, as it does, the story of Alden Dennis Weer, in the first person. Weer, a 60-something ...more
DeAnna Knippling
Early Gene Wolfe, densely packed.

Review for non-Wolfe readers:

A pleasant, innocuous tale with some weird underpinnings that you may want to pay attention to, because they open up a doorway into a secret horror novel.

Wolfe's story structure goes like this: you have to read the book, and then you have to read the book at least one more time. It's just not possible to sort everything out the first time, sorry. A Wolfe story is meant to be savored and pondered--there are actually (at least) two di
Chris Palmer
Mar 11, 2013 Chris Palmer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing book. I've read it three times in less than two months and I still haven't figured it all out yet, but I'm having a lot of fun searching.

I talked to Gene Wolfe last year and one of the things I asked him was whether he ever left anything deliberately ambiguous in his books or anything that was left to subjective speculation. He said that he always knew exactly what the "true" story was behind his books and stories, even if his narrators didn't or even if they chose to leave parts out.

Mar 23, 2012 Christopher rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gene Wolfe's 1975 novel Peace seems to be the scattered recollections of Alden Dennis Weer, an old man who has lived all his life in a a small Midwestern town. But as the novel unfolds, we feel that he's not being entirely honest with us. Furthermore, in a fantastical twist, the old man sometimes seems to take an active role in the history that he reminisces on.

Peace was originally published by Harper & Row in an utterly anonymous plain tan dustcover and went unnoticed by most of the reading
Jan 06, 2010 Zach rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For better or worse, Peace is a book that demands a re-reading. It starts off innocently enough, seeming to be a straight memoir of the aging, stroke-saddled Alden Dennis Weer. But as you read, certain things start to dawn on you, and by the end you're left with the urge to pick back through Weer's narratives to piece together the loose strands of the stories. I could only sustain re-reading for a few vital details before moving on to the next book, but even that brief return was worthwhile.

Chris Hawks
Feb 21, 2011 Chris Hawks rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned, reviewed
Peace is the memoir of Alden Dennis Weer, chronicling his life growing up in the town of Cassionsville. It's a rambling narrative prone to go off on tangents, where one story can and will invoke another, entirely seperate memory—transitioning into it without warning—and so the text jumps back forth in time, blurring the boundaries between one passage and the next. But Gene Wolfe is such a great writer that, after a few pages to get acclimated to these shifts, not only does it become easy to foll ...more
Damian Dubois
Mar 14, 2013 Damian Dubois rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
On the surface 'Peace' comes across as a story about memories, and in this particular case, Alden Dennis Weer's, an elderly man and victim of a stroke. The memories slide back and forth through Weer's life, from the time he was a young lad and looked after by his Aunt Olivia to his being the president of an orange drink producing corporation and comes across as a man reflecting on the meandering path life has taken him on.

But underneath the surface detail, things don't seem to be as straightfor
Jenny H
Mar 12, 2016 Jenny H rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned
Beautifully written, confusing, well worth reading, but read it with a peaceful mind, because you need to be alert while reading to understand what's happening. Dwell in every situation described, and you will find it beautiful as well and very well written.
Edward Rathke
Apr 20, 2016 Edward Rathke rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a challenge. It's deceptive on just about every level.

I have a lot of thoughts about it but I think it's mostly just Wolfe at his Wolfiest. It's a book that obscures and obfuscates so much while also managing to give you all of its answers without you realizing that it's even answered anything.

Memory as construction and maybe salvation or at least a way to put a life to rest. A novel that seems nice and simple but is kind of seething beneath the surface. A novel where the life def
Mar 25, 2008 Joe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people that liked Big Fish
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 31, 2012 Dennis rated it it was amazing
Now that I've given Peace five stars, I wish I could go back and take one star away from all my other books. This book stands up above all the others by a mile and a half. Insanely beautiful sense of place and time, while transcending everything to offer a deeper, subtler existence. I felt stupider after reading this book--but not for the reasons you probably think. It isn't like some fiction which dumbs you down with its own dumbed-down language--this book challenges the reader to rise to its l ...more
Jul 01, 2012 Stacy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-read-2012
I suspect there's a lot I didn't understand about this novel, though reading-wise, it was a fine read. On its surface, it's the journal of an elderly man and his time with his aunt. But the narrator is totally unreliable and I got the sense there was a lot of bad stuff underneath his surface. Yet I couldn't see it - at least, not until I was more than 3/4 of the way through the story (though the ghost story in the middle creeped me out). I'll probably take another crack at this one soon, just to ...more
Daniel Polansky
A new favorite. Shit, do I love Gene Wolfe. Full review
Jay McNair
This isn't quite my "kind" of book—I don't think it is. It's hard to say for sure, which impresses me. I wasn't smart enough to figure out everything that went on, but then I enjoy not quite knowing, not understanding what the house is that he lives in that has so many rooms, or why he's telling you these stories, some of which are just pure story-within-a-story. But there was definitely something going on. Once the book's over and you've started to digest it, maybe the first lines will mean mor ...more
Feb 01, 2008 Diogo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Recommended to anyone who is willing to look at what's not written in a novel as well as what is.
This novel is as interesting and multi-layered as any Gene Wolfe novel, and its setting in a small town in the American Mid-West is used enticingly to create a novel that can be read as a mellow, melancholy midwestern tale or as a truly spine-tingling horror novel about damnation (which sounds like a rather corny description, I know). Either way, it is first class Wolfe and it explores with skill some of his most common themes (memory/imagination, perception/creation, storytelling, identity, etc ...more
Mine is the edition with the crow on the tree, and Neil Gaiman saying it is one of the 'tiny handful of modern novels of which I'm in awe', and an afterword by same, suggesting that you need to read it several times to get it (after all, he's a genius and it took him about twelve years and a dream). Above all, he says, don't trust Wolfe's narrator(s).

This was the sixth Wolfe novel I read (seventh if 'American Nights' counts) and my initial impressions were that the style and form were wanting: e
This book blew my mind. After reading Neil Gaiman's praise about it, I went in knowing nothing other than that the narrator was unreliable.

Fast forward to my first readthrough of the book. It was a lovely, interesting story about growing up and going into business in a midwestern town during the early-to-mid 1900's. I was very satisfied with the book. It was intricately written in such a way that I'd made notes about certain character names, because they're often only referenced once by their gi
May 31, 2014 Laura rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I made it to page 16. I cannot understand why this book is so highly rated?! Non-stop run-on sentences interrupted by further side thoughts in parentheses. Not just a little bit, but all of it!

The narrator seems to have the need to share every damn convolution of his thoughts as if they mattered in the least. By the time I get to the end of a sentence (which can take up more than half a page), I can't fathom what he originally began talking about at the beginning.

It is reading as complete nonse
David Cooke
Nov 08, 2014 David Cooke rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This book is one of the most fluid I've read in a long time. It reminded me strongly of Faulkner, partially because of the writing style that just slides back and forth effortlessly in time, and partially because whereas Faulkner told the story of the South, this tells the story of the Midwest.

The book is basically just the memories of an old man, which he strings together for you as the tangent strikes his fancy. There really isn't a plot, but after I adapted to the style of the tale, I felt li
Sep 13, 2015 Daniel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There's a particular, very specific feeling to finishing a Gene Wolfe novel - a sense that you've been shown a great amount of vivid, captivating, intense details, like the pieces of a puzzle, but that somehow, somewhere, you missed the one vital piece that would have made all those details come together into a clear picture. The promise of that whole teases you, sits on the edge of your consciousness - you think you can make out its shape but you cannot pin it down, you think you have it one mo ...more
Kate Sherrod
Nov 15, 2013 Kate Sherrod rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

That this is the first novel I ever read twice in a row should tell you everything. Well, this is Gene Wolfe, so not everything, but lots. Full reaction over at my blog.
Brian Darvell
If you've seen other reviews of this novel, it's almost common knowledge that to really appreciate this novel you need to read it more than once. After just having read it for the first time I can believe that. I enjoyed the book overall but definitely can see through the narrator's telling of this tale and how the book is structured that you will undoubtedly miss many things upon the first reading. I admit that I read through many of the spoilers and plot summary's of the novel as I read it and ...more
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Reddit SF Book Club: Peace by Gene Wolfe is our November 2014 Selection 1 8 Nov 05, 2014 07:41AM  
  • The Well of the Unicorn
  • Sea-Kings of Mars and Otherworldly Stories
  • The Second Book of Lankhmar
  • Mistress of Mistresses
  • The House on the Borderland and Other Novels
  • Black Gods and Scarlet Dreams
  • The Emperor of Dreams
  • Darker Than You Think
  • The Green Pearl and Madouc (Lyonesse, #2-3)
  • The Mark of the Beast and Other Horror Tales (Dover Horror Classics)
  • The Conan Chronicles: Volume 2: The Hour of the Dragon (The Conan Chronicles, #2)
  • Gloriana
  • Voice of Our Shadow
  • The Dragon Waiting
  • Time And The Gods
  • Viriconium
  • Aegypt (The Aegypt Cycle, #1)
  • The Complete Compleat Enchanter
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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“It may be that the only reason childhood memories act on us so strongly is that, being the most remote we possess, they are the worst remembered and so offer the least resistance to that process by which we mold them nearer and nearer to an ideal which is fundamentally artistic, or at least nonfactual.” 7 likes
“We talk of strong personalities, and they are strong, until the not-every-day when we see them as we might see one woman alone in a desert, and know that all the strength we thought we knew was only courage, only her lone song echoing among the stones; and then at last when we have understood this and made up our minds to hear the song and admire its courage and its sweetness, we wait for the next note and it does not come. The last word, with its pure tone, echoes and fades and is gone, and we realize—only then—that we do not know what it was, that we have been too intent on the melody to hear even one word. We go then to find the singer, thinking she will be standing where we last saw her. There are only bones and sand and a few faded rags.” 3 likes
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