Excerpt from Home Fires by Gene Wolfe, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Home Fires

by Gene Wolfe

Home Fires by Gene Wolfe X
Home Fires by Gene Wolfe
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jan 2011, 304 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2012, 304 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Beverly Melven

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


Beyond another window, almost out of sight, wet and heavy snow was falling into the sea.

*   *   *

The penthouse had a private elevator that stopped for no other floor. He smiled to himself as he waited for wide bronze doors to slide back, remembering what the penthouse rented for. This elevator - his own elevator - served the upper fifty floors, but on this trip it would stop for none of them.

The street was cold and dark, as was to be expected. Filthy, too, like all streets, though the snow had arrived to cover its filth. Despite his firm rule against giving to beggars, he rubbed the hump of a pathetic hunchback and gave him five noras. There were only two others out so early. So early, in cold and falling snow. A flourish of his walking stick sent them scuttling back to their places.

A block and a half brought him to Carrera's. He sat, and waved a waitress over.

"The usual, Mr. Grison?"

He nodded, holding out the yellow paper. "I need a favor, Aleta. Will you read this to me? It's pretty short."

"Sure, Mr. Grison. Forget your glasses?"

"No. I've read it. I need to hear someone else read it." He nearly said, "I need to have it made real," but he did not.

"Okay." The waitress cleared her throat. "It says, 'Greetings. You have contracted with Mastergunner Chelle Sea Blue.' I didn't know you had contracted with anybody, Mr. Grison."

"The rest, please."

"'In accordance with the law, you are hereby notified by Mustprint that Mastergunner Blue is being returned from outsystem. Mastergunner Blue will receive one year and forty-one days of accumulated leave after processing and debriefing.' Wow! She must have been gone quite a while."

Skip nodded. "By Earth-time she was."

"'Mastergunner Blue is scheduled to arrive by shuttle at Canam Port day one-eighty.'" The waitress glanced at her watch. "That's this coming Saturday, Mr. Grison."

"Yes. It is. You don't have to read the rest."

"It says she may've been affected by her experiences - "

"I know what it says."

"And you'll have to make allowances for her." The waitress paused. When Skip did not speak, she said, "Would you like to see a menu?"

He was still smiling at her remark as he poured honey on his buckwheat cakes. Yes, he would love to see a menu. Better yet, a psychological profile....

Which might actually be possible.

It was oh seven thirty-five when he left Carrera's, and oh seven forty-seven when he entered the Union Day Building. The offices of Burton, Grison, and Ibarra were still empty and silent, lit by a single dim fixture.

Once seated in his office, he read headlines on his screen: ANOTHER SUICIDE RING UNCOVERED - NEW ENERGY CONTROLS - SHIPS SEIZED AS CHAOS IN NORTHERN SAU WORSENS. The third made him grin; last week, the same news service had called the chaos total.

Still grinning, he posted a message to All: he would be gone for a week, and perhaps longer. If return by day one eighty-eight (or sooner) should prove impossible, he would notify them.

Next an order to Research: "Obtain psych. profile Mastergunner C. S. Blue; call me at once. - S.W.G."

After that, he assigned Mick Tooley to baby-sit the jewelry wholesaler case and the cyborg murder - the cases he had been handling personally. Tooley was to call him when necessary, but only when necessary.

What else?

Susan had tidied up his desk, and he had done little to disturb it. The wall safe yielded five thousand noras - more than sufficient, he decided, for emergencies requiring cash. A thousand for his wallet, and four thousand more for his briefcase.

From the doorway, Susan inquired, "Mr. Grison?"

He closed the safe.

"I just wanted to let you know I'm here if you need me. You beat me in this morning."

"I do. I was about to write you a note. I want a first-class compartment on a Bullet for Canam. Depart before twenty tonight."

Excerpted from Home Fires by Gene Wolfe. Copyright © 2011 by Gene Wolfe. Excerpted by permission of Tor Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  About the Author

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    Driving Miss Norma
    by Ramie Liddle, Tim Bauerschmidt
    In my cultural life, I've met and been awed by two Normas: The demanding, clueless, fiercely ...
  • Book Jacket
    Driving Miss Norma
    by Ramie Liddle, Tim Bauerschmidt
    In my cultural life, I've met and been awed by two Normas: The demanding, clueless, fiercely ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Last Ballad
    by Wiley Cash
    A hundred years ago or so, farming land west of Charlotte, North Carolina was given over to giant ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Graybar Hotel
    by Curtis Dawkins
    We – those of us on the outside – are lucky. So very lucky. We get to experience life &#...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

A nuanced portrait of war, and of three women haunted by the past and the secrets they hold.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    A Place for Us
    by Fatima Farheen Mirza

    A deeply moving story of love, identity and belonging--the first novel from Sarah Jessica Parker's new imprint.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club Giveaway!
Win If You See Me, Don't Say Hi

If You See Me, Don't Say Hi by Neel Patel

Patel's stories introduce a bold and timely new literary voice.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

A P Saved I A P E

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.