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Date: Tue, 10 Sep 2002 11:25:14 -0400 (EDT)
From: Michael Straight 
Subject: Re: (urth) Does Gene Wolfe read Cordwainer Smith?

Count me as another one who doesn't see much connection between Wolfe and

They have some similar interests, both address them from a Christian
perspective, and they are perhaps equally distant from the SF mainstream,
but, I think, distant in different directions.

I think Wolfe's prose is the most beautiful in SF; Smith strikes me as
overly mannered -- effective in some cases, particularly the Crime and
Glory of Cmd Suzal (my favorite Smith story -- the bit where he is rescued
sent a shiver up my spine; just a couple sentences that slowly exploded in
my head into a vast, amazing story -- but not in a way that would
necessarily remind me of Wolfe, I've had parallel experiences with Greg
Egan, Vernor Vinge, Brian Moriarty, and others) -- but more often I find
it distancing.

Wolfe is sort of post-mainstream-SF, playing with, subverting, reworking
SF ideas and conventions; Smith almost seems to be re-inventing SF from
scratch, more like Stanislaw Lem than Wolfe (but not in the sense of some
non-SF writers who try to write SF without much knowledge of the field and
end up reproducing old cliches).

Wolfe is more of a hard science fiction writer, with an interest in
technological details -- much of it may actually be magic (or miracle),
but he plays the game of trying to convince you that there is real science
in there; Smith seems to take much more of a handwaving approach to
technology, with more of an interest in the wild things the technology can
do than in producing any illusion that you have a sense of how it works.

But for me, the main difference is that I love Wolfe but don't care much
for Smith.



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