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Gene Wolfe

April 27, 2015

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The NEW YORKER has run a major profile of Gene Wolfe. Good reading, for the Wolfe fans out there… and an intriguing introduction to one of the field’s greatest writers, for those who have yet to sample his work.

You can check it out yourself at

The article becomes especially apt in light of the ongoing Hugo Wars.

One of the claims of the Sad Puppies has been that certain writers in our field have been wrongly overlooked when the rockets were being handed out. There is a certain amount of truth to that (please note, that unlike many on the other side, I am capable of conceding a point from time to time). We all know the names of the “overlooked writers” that the Puppies chose to champion.

I have my own list, very different from theirs. At the top of it is the name GENE WOLFE.

Gene Wolfe has never won a Hugo.

Nebulas, yes. World Fantasy Awards, yes. Locus Awards, BSFA Awards, Campbell Memorial Award (not to be confused with the Campbell New Writer award). Even the Rhysling Award for poetry, and something called the August Derleth Award. But never a Hugo. Eight nominations, zero wins.

I would rank Wolfe as one of the greatest SF and fantasy writers of the past half-century, right up there with Roger Zelazny and Ursula K. Le Guin. Yet he remains without a rocket.

The Hugo Awards are not perfect, no. No more than any other award. Alfred Hitchcock never won an Oscar. That did not mean that the Oscars were in the hands of some secret cabal. Hitchcock, by all reports, would have liked to have won, but he never let it bother him. He just kept on making movies, and Gene Wolfe just keeps on writing great books.

Will he get a Hugo some day? Maybe. Maybe not. It doesn’t matter. His books will still be being read a hundred years from now. That’s the “award” that matters most.

Gene Wolfe: one of the great ones. And a class act.

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