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Home Fires

3.24  ·  Rating Details ·  647 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
Hardcover, 304 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
May 26, 2011 Carolyn rated it did not like it
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
Feb 17, 2011 Stefan rated it liked it
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
Jan 18, 2013 Nikki rated it liked it
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
Mar 14, 2011 Timothy rated it did not like it
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 31, 2011 Andreas rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
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
Shannon Bowman-Sarkisian
Sep 14, 2011 Shannon Bowman-Sarkisian rated it did not like it
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
Jan 29, 2011 Ivan rated it it was amazing
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
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.
Michael Jones
Mar 03, 2011 Michael Jones rated it it was ok
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
Perry Whitford
Oct 13, 2015 Perry Whitford rated it liked it
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
Robert Beech
Feb 12, 2011 Robert Beech rated it it was amazing
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
Lisa Wolf
Apr 14, 2011 Lisa Wolf rated it liked it
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
Jun 29, 2011 Matt rated it really liked it
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
Jul 13, 2013 Christopher rated it it was ok
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
Oct 08, 2013 Leif rated it liked it
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 W ...more
Maria Farrell
Apr 21, 2016 Maria Farrell rated it it was ok
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
Anna Maria
Mar 05, 2016 Anna Maria rated it really liked it
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
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
Ken Gloeckner
Jul 13, 2014 Ken Gloeckner rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, scifi
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
Apr 04, 2011 Ed rated it really liked it
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.
Daniel Devine
Apr 05, 2014 Daniel Devine rated it liked it
More of a 2.5 really. The narrative portion is sort of an odd, hostage escape, who-done-it mystery taking place mainly aboard a hijacked cruise ship but there is a weird sci-fi setting with potential alien spies and people who have had their brains overwritten by the memories of others.

To me, the story feels a bit rushed and jumbled, the narrator and others around him seem very smug about figuring out facts that appear totally inconsequential, and certain peoples' secrets and fates are ultimatel
Bud Sparhawk
Apr 28, 2011 Bud Sparhawk rated it did not like it
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 16, 2015 Sean rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, fiction
Three and a half stars.

By no means a bad novel, but this isn't Wolfe at his best. Wolfe's writing has a certain stiffness or formality that serves him well in the New Sun or Latro series, since the protagonists of those books are alien to us -- not literally alien, but sufficiently removed from our experience that communication with them wouldn't be a casual affair. The characters who inhabit the world of Home Fires aren't all that different from us, however, and so the writing feels a bit woode
Jan 26, 2016 Ladysatel rated it it was amazing
Shelves: author-gene-wolf
Gene Wolf is the type of author who writes a multi-faceted story. Home fires is about a young woman who joined the Army and was sent out system to fight against an alien species known as the O's.

The book begins with her return to Earth 20 years later. Her contractee Skip during her absence has grown 20 years older. Will she recognize him? Will she still want to be with him?

Mastergunner Chelle Sea Blue has indeed changed in more ways than even she knows. She and Skip go on a sea voyage to reconne
David Hill
Jan 13, 2015 David Hill rated it liked it
Often, science fiction isn't so much a genre as a setting. That is, the story could just as easily be told as standard mystery or romance by changing the setting. There may need to be minor changes - you can't exactly have a closed-room mystery if you have Star Trek's transporter.

This story seems to fit right into the mystery genre, set in a somewhat dystopian future. Our hero is a rich and powerful attorney and he moves through the story much as a rich and powerful attorney might move through a
Mar 13, 2014 Henrik rated it it was ok
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.
Jul 12, 2015 Kristi rated it it was ok
This book was kind of a mess from start to finish. It certainly had an interesting premise, but the actual story did not live up to it. Many of the chapters read like streams of consciousness straight from Skip's mind .... in other words, almost incoherent to someone who is not him. When Skip is speaking to others, he sounds like he is in a courtroom ... I understand that he is a lawyer, but most lawyers don't speak like they're on the job 24/7. The "story" part of the novel was really a cross b ...more
Jul 30, 2016 Briana rated it it was ok
From the description this book was meant to be science fiction. The only thing that was science fiction about it was that the wife goes into outer space and returns still young and her husband is now much older. They go on a cruise to reconnect and it is hijacked. The rest of the story is people going into rooms, up and down the decks, trying to kill each other, or not be killed, who's trying to kill whom, who said what, where is she now, I'm an old man, how could she love me, I have the gun, no ...more
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.
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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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“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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