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An Evil Guest

3.05  ·  Rating details ·  940 ratings  ·  164 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, 304 pages
Published November 10th 2009 by St. Martins Press-3PL (first published 2008)
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3.05  · 
Rating details
 ·  940 ratings  ·  164 reviews


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Monty Merrick
Aug 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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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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
Amanda
Apr 23, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book earlier this year. A wonderful book from a master of the art. Anyone out there who has never read any of his books- shame, shame on you. However, i would not start with this one, start with The Book of the New Sun instead.
This is noir done right!! Being Noir, I'm sure many hardcore fans hate it, because it is so different from his other works. But i could care less, the man can write whatever he wants, literally. His flow is so effortless. Very intriguing and as is usual with W
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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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Randy
Oct 26, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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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Brian Clegg
Oct 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gene Wolfe is one of the world's greatest fantasy writers. He has also written some popular SF, notably the Book of the New Sun series. His SF has never really been my thing, as I prefer his fantasy work, but this is a real oddity that spans the two. Arguably it is science fiction, as the odd happenings all have 'science' explanations. And we've got some science fiction tropes such as warp drive, hyperspace and projected 3D TV. But the whole setting is a dream-like mix of periods.

So, though An E
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Scott
Dec 25, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Set a hundred years in the future, yet feeling like a pulp mystery from the early twentieth century, An Evil Guest concerns a stage actress--somewhat famous but not a superstar--who finds herself caught between two very mysterious and powerful men. A "wizard" named Gideon Chase, at the behest of the president, enlists the assistance of Cassiopeia Casey to entrap William Reis, allegedly the most dangerous man in the world. At least that's how things start out. Along the way, alliances form, disso ...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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Eric
Apr 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a lovecraftian time traveling lycanthropism mystery thriller radioactive love story. It's Wolfe having a great time. He relaxed for a little while, and wrote a novel that is simply fun. Wolfe's deep affection for all of his characters, and for the story he is leading them through, rises from every page. There are a dozen dreams at work here, many of them working at the same time, in the same places, on the same characters. One of joys of reading Wolfe is to parse his clues and understand ...more
Ivy
Jan 02, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
John
Sep 18, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf-fantasy
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
Bbrown
Apr 21, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
There are good Gene Wolfe books and there are the rest of his works. This book is part of the latter category. It has the ambiguities, mysteries, symbols that you expect out of a Wolfe book, but it doesn't weave those things into a cohesive whole, in fact this is probably the most disjointed book by Wolfe I've read. It also just doesn't have characters and relationships written well enough to carry the book, making the mysteries and symbols ultimately no more than window-dressing.

The first two-
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Yolanda Casica
Jun 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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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Sean
May 29, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, horror, sci-fi
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
Oct 14, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction, 2008
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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Terry Tsurugi
Maybe the weakest Gene Wolfe novel I've ever read.
Dawn Albright
Gene Wolfe is famous for his unreliable narrators. Typically, when I read one of his books, there is a moment when I realize what's really going on -- A is really B, the bad guy is the good guy, there is a time loop so the end of the action is really the beginning, probably all of them at once. Then when I finish reading I go on the internet and pick up the pieces I missed.

With this book, I never got the aha moment. I was tucking away all the seeming non-sequiturs and then when I got to the end
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Connor
Jun 05, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Worst Wolfe I've read yet. Not nearly as composed or interesting as his other work.
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 casts a glamour on Cassie and hires her to entrap a mysterious and seemingly dangerous businessman.

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 world.

This trio of characters inhabit a future America which is also li
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J.
Nov 16, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sade
Feb 11, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Given the number of big-name blurbs at the front of this book, I have to say I was really disappointed by An Evil Guest. So much so that I seriously considered simply not finishing it, and that's speaking as someone who hate-read their way through both Emperor Mollusk and the truly execrable Sugar-Frosted Nutsack.

The Evil Guest is described as a pulp thriller for the twenty-first century. Unfortunately, the author puts so much energy into creating his noir ambiance - a good 97% of the novel seem
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Drew
Nov 19, 2009 rated it it was ok
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
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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Sarah B.
Jul 02, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-books
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
Nigel
Jul 30, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
Adam Burton
Jan 27, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 13, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"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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Jonathan Forisha
Jul 08, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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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Daniel Polansky
I am pretty well on record that I think Gene Wolfe is a genius, but you would have to admit he isn't really interested in telling stories in the conventional sense so much as he is setting up really elaborate riddles. Basic narrative conventions are eschewed here, as is often the case with Wolfe--much of the book consists of expository dialogue which obfuscates more than it clarifies, and the characters are thin as tissue paper, and some of Wolfe's decisions with accents and patois are really qu ...more
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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 f
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“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.” 1 likes
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