So here's the thing: The stories in Gene Wolfe's The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories and Other Stories are all well-written and quality-laden and so forth. But they're also emotionally distant and unremittingly, unrelentingly bleak. They're stories in which people never smile or laugh, in which things are bad and getting worse, and in which the characters are utterly lacking in affect. And while this also describes the brilliant Book of the New Sun, the stories here lacked the compensatory sense-of-wonder of that series.

As I read TIoDDaOSaOS (and no, that title isn't a typo -- one of the stories in this volume is "The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories"), I found myself getting increasingly depressed and lethargic, and I finally decided that, no matter how "good" the stories might be, they were making me miserable, and I'd be better off not reading them. So, I stopped. I've got my place marked with a bookmark, and theoretically someday I might come back and finish up the collection; but probably not.


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