Unknown to non-genre readers, Gene Wolfe was regarded as perhaps the finest living fantasy writer at the time of his death. His quartet work opus The Book of the New Sun, released between 1980 and 1983, was regarded by no less an authority than Locus magazine as secondary only to Tolkien in the genre’s history. Wolfe’s work was never adapted for large-scale Hollywood productions and he never chased cross-over fame. Indeed, for most of his writing career his novels were a side gig to his work as a trade publication editor (he helmed Plant Engineering magazine for most of the 70s and early 80s).
A known influence on writers such as Ursula K. LeGuin, George R.R. Martin and Neil Gaiman, Wolfe said his approach to literature was summed up by another, more canine, figure.
“There’s a wonderful ‘Peanuts’ cartoon that pretty much describes what I’m talking about,” he said. “Snoopy is on the top of his doghouse and he writes something like: ‘A frigate appeared on the edge of the horizon. The king’s extravagances were bankrupting the people. A shot rang out. The dulcet voice of a guitar sounded at the window.’ Then he turns and looks at the reader and says, ‘In the last chapter I’m going to pull all this together!’”