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Innocents Aboard: New Fantasy Stories

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  408 ratings  ·  29 reviews
Gene Wolfe may be the single best writer in fantasy and SF today. His quotes and reviews certainly support that contention, and so does his impressive short fiction oeuvre. Innocents Aboard gathers fantasy and horror stories from the last decade that have never before been in a Wolfe collection. Highlights from the twenty-two stories include "The Tree is my Hat," adventure ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published April 1st 2005 by Orb Books (first published 2004)
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Average rating 3.89  · 
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L.S. Popovich
Innocents Aboard is the first short story collection by Wolfe I've read. It is a diverse helping of mind-altering tales. Ranging from Melville satire to Egyptian myth and Chinese folktale, a plethora of ghost stories and atypical Arthurian fantasy, with a few Biblical allegories thrown in. Story after story, I was constantly surprised, and typically scribbling with a pencil in the margins. The intrigue is all-consuming and the mystique is alive and well.

If you are familiar with his novels you
Jan 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Wolfe fans
Shelves: urthlings
Another superb collection of short stories from Gene Wolfe. This one focuses on fantasy and horror. I loved it from start to finish, but it's not the best introduction to Wolfe's short fiction. For that, I recommend Wolfe's collection, The Island of Dr. Death and Other Stories and Other Stories. For the experienced Wolfe reader, however, there's a lot to love in this collection.

Here are my notes on the individual stories:

"The Tree Is My Hat" is in the same "universe" as Wolfe's novel, An Evil
Miloș Dumbraci
Jun 12, 2019 rated it it was ok
I absolutely love Wolfe's long fiction and I think that his Long/Short/New Sun series is one of the best ever. Yet time and again I find his short fiction not to my taste, for being too low: too low scifi, too low fantasy, almost magic realism, a genre I deeply dislike.
Perry Whitford
Apr 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Twenty two fantasy short stories from Wolfe written between 1988 and 2002. Surprisingly few of them have Faerie as the inspiration, his primary source material for the most part coming from myth, folklore and the Bible.

I like him most when he takes on a mythic narrative with suitable prose, which he does here to fine effect in the brooding 'A Traveller in Desert Lands' and 'The Lost Pilgrim, where a time jumper makes a mistake and ends up with the Argonauts.

For the religious stuff, 'Queen'
Oct 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
A very nice read. The stories are very varied in what they do. Many are the standard what the fuck Gene type, a lot are his well loved young boy themed ones, a few religious ones about Ireland, some horror, but overall most were very good.
Sep 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasysci-fi
Just adding a brief note-- I see most reviewers on Goodreads have not enjoyed this collection as much, even if Wolfe is one of their favorite authors. I'll admit that I only have 3 stories fresh in my mind at the moment, and they are certainly not particularly accessible (but I think that could go for a lot of his work), but I still enjoyed them very much. He "does" things with his stories, in a way I find pleasurable. Suppose I'll leave it at that (having already written the monster review ...more
Jul 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Everything Gene Wolfe writes shines like a perfect golden pearl because Gene Wolfe is secretly Robot Jesus Wolverine. Gene Wolfe is an international treasure and if he we a missile, he'd be a missile of hot, well-craft lovin, reigning down destruction of the same.

Seriously though.



Seriously, guys.

Read his books. They're genuinely really good. Astonishingly good. Gene Wolfe is one of the most talented authors I've ever had the pleasure of reading. I can't say enough good
Paul Tortora
Mar 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
This collection of short stories probably deserves 5 stars, but my tiny brain can only muster 4 stars. I suspect there's more going on in each story that I missed which would be appreciated with repeated reading and scrutiny.

I'm a bit reminded of reading short stories by Flannery O'Connor.
Aug 23, 2008 rated it liked it
As much as I love short stories, I just couldn't get into this collection. It felt like a jumble of stories that were either too simple and much to muddled for comprehension.
Patrick Pottorff
Jul 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
I tend to prefer fantasy over horror. Wolfe does horror quite well... “Houston, 1943” is definitely masterful and terrifying, but not really my cup of tea.

Obviously, they’re all well written. Some are the kind that I know if I had the time or the patience, unknown depths could be found (looking at you, “Walking Sticks” and “Pocketsful of Diamonds”.)

There were a few I flat out adored, namely:

-Under Hill
-The Sailor Who Sailed After the Sun
-The Waif
-The Night Chough
-The Lost Pilgrim

...all of which
Jul 02, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Ursula K. Le Guin compared Wolfe to Melville. I've heard his praises sung multiple times on The Geek's Guide to the Galaxy, so when I saw this collection of his stories come into work, I thought I'd check it out. As with any short story collection, it's somewhat hit-and-miss. I would guess Wolfe's longer works are more effective than his stories. There were several times that I thought he did interesting things, but the ideas weren't fully explained or explored.

"The Monday Man" was my favorite
Mar 05, 2010 rated it it was ok
I received this as an uncorrected proof, so the published version may differ from the one I've read. Wolfe has been one of my favourite authors all my adult life, but I prefer his science fiction to his fantasy and his novels to his short stories. The stories collected here show him at his worst, I'm afraid. Though that worst is still a lot better than the best of most authors, the characters in these tales are unlovable, the plots often clunky and contrived, and the endings are unsatisfactory ...more
Sep 08, 2012 rated it liked it
This may be blasphemy of a sort, but sometimes I think Gene Wolfe gets away with stuff simply because he's Gene Wolfe. If you or I had written some of these stories, they would never have been published.

That's not as big a complaint as it sounds, because I think most of these stories should be published, be available, even the ones that seem to me intentionally obscure or written with less than Wolfe's full attention. At his worst, he's amazing. But I do feel sometimes like I'm simply missing
Perhaps I would rate this more highly if I were more familiar with Wolfe going in. As it is, there are absolutely flashes of the genius he is known for in this collection, but as a collection the stories failed to blow me away. I'm not sure whether that would change on a reread, as I've often heard of Wolfe.

By no means has this deterred me from reading more of Wolfe--in fact, the flashes of brilliance have convinced me more than ever to give some of his long fiction a serious read. But to those
Apr 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
In my opinion, Gene Wolfe is really a novelist at heart. I loved many of these stories, but was left irritated that there wasn't more. These weren't self contained stories that resolved themselves, they were the starts of novels ... or the middles of novels ... but they were certainly part of a larger narrative.

I was curious what Gene Wolfe would do with short stories, given that his novels are so very epic and enchanting. These stories were enchanting and unfinished. Not to say I didn't like
Amanda Patchin
Jan 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Just fantastic. Wolfe assumes and almost casually illustrates what would, for lesser writers, be the central and explicit question of a labored work. His prose and plots are equally elegant and his subtlety, while it can frustrate, is stimulating.

The best of an excellent collection:

The Friendship Light
The Monday Man
The Eleventh City
A Traveler in Desert Lands
The Lost Pilgrim (my favorite)
Mar 24, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
Some cool ideas and good writing, but little in it really grabbed me or excited my imagination. I'd hoped for more, as Wolfe is touted as this amazing Fantasy writer, but I didn't find anything in this book to justify that description. Maybe his novels hold more than this collection of short stories?
Casey West
Mar 05, 2008 rated it liked it
This was my first intro to Gene Wolfe. Obviously a very talented writer, and a few of these stories made lasting impressions. All fantasy and horror. Some of these stories however I just didn't get. I guessing that his strength is in his dense epic novel storytelling. I'll be checking those out soon.
Feb 01, 2013 rated it did not like it
I have read Gene Wolfe books before and loved them. Im very disappointed by this one, I disliked it from the very first page. I just couldn't bring myself to finish reading this book. I think I will put it away and give it another go later (then again I might just donate it to the thrift shop). Im feeling like I wasted my money on this one :(
Eddie Novak
Sep 29, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: short-stories
Most of these stories weren't innocent. Some were murderous bastards while others were mind-disintegrating curmudgeons. Still, when Wolfe strikes beautiful, there is nothing like it. That happened a few times here.
John Lawson
Excellent collection of Wolfe's sci-fi, dark fantasy, horror short stories. Good stuff. If you are familiar with his long-form work, you'll see certain patterns repeated here, especially his use of the unreliable narrator device.
Jul 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
A lot of fun, some really good stories, and some mediocre ones. My favorites are "The Tree is my Hat", and "The Sailor who Sailed After the Sun".
jack o'bang
Apr 25, 2007 rated it liked it
Nice diversity in tone and content.
Jul 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
A fairly good collection of Gene Wolfe tales. I enjoyed Starwater Strains more, but a few stood out from this collection.
Nov 10, 2008 rated it it was ok
A collection of short stories, most of which were essentially ghost stories, all of which were weird and/or confusing. Well written, but not really the sort of book to read right before bed.
Jan 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-wolfe
Great set of short stories. Notable titles: Slow Children at Play; The Waif; The Legend of Xi Cygnus; The Night Cough; A Traveler in Desert Lands; Pocketful of Diamonds
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic. Nothing else to say. Fantastic.
Jun 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing
One of his more accessible collections of really, really good (at worst, really interesting) stories.
John Foreman
rated it really liked it
Mar 08, 2017
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Gene Wolfe was an American science fiction and fantasy writer. He was 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 was 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
“Rising, the woman who had carried the jar began to dance to the music of the rebab, fevered music that was like to the flashing of the recurved blade she flourished aloft. Ever the chimings of the red-gold finger cymbals slipped through, around, and over the exigent strains, and in a minute or three (though it had grown dark) the fluting notes of a syrinx joined them, an eerie piping, more distant far in time than space, that railed against death and the desert, and like a child forlorn sobbed of wildflowers. “Flitting” 0 likes
“Thus they were speaking when the thunderous voice came. So mighty it was that it filled every hall and chamber of the palace; and its first word dashed the pictures from the walls so that their crash and smash added to the roar, though they were lost in it. Its second word broke all the crockery in the palace and set the shards to sliding like screes of stones, so that they burst open cabinets and cupboards and descended to the floors in avalanches. Its third word toppled all the statues along the broad avenue that led up to the Great Gate; its fourth stopped the fountain and snapped off both arms of the marble nymph who blessed the waters; and its fifth cracked the basin itself. Its sixth, seventh, and eighth words maddened every cat in the place, struck dead seventeen bat-winged black rooks of the flock that swept the sky about the Grand Campanile, and set all the bells to ringing. Its ninth soured every cask in the cellars, while its tenth word stove them in. Its eleventh stopped the clocks and started the hounds to howling. Its twelfth and last (which was an especially big word) knocked the Dwarves off their feet and sent every one of them rolling and somersaulting amongst all their foulnesses while they held their ears and screeched. And what that voice said was, “What vermin are these who dare defile the body of a Giant?” Oh, my friends! Let us of this star, who are ourselves but Dwarves, heed well the warning.” 0 likes
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