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AN EVIL GUEST by Gene Wolfe

AN EVIL GUEST

By Gene Wolfe

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-7653-2133-6
Publisher: Tor

Fantasy/science fiction/gumshoe noir from the versatile author of Soldier of Sidon (2006, etc.).

The President of the United States summons Gideon Chase, an academic with a reputation for solving intractable problems; the administration badly needs to locate the elusive Bill Reis, former ambassador to the inhabited alien planet Woldercan, where he learned how to transmute base metals into gold and make himself invisible. Chase demands a highly prestigious professorship and a small fortune, and when these are not forthcoming, seems to refuse the job. Nevertheless he contacts so-so actress Cassie Casey, promising money and stardom for her help to beguile and ensnare Reis, characterized by the President as an evil and highly dangerous spy. During a mystical interlude Chase releases Cassie's latent star qualities; Reis catches the last performance of Cassie's current engagement, and he immediately pressures her into accepting a role in the musical he’s producing, Dating the Volcano God, complete with hilariously awful lyrics (“And how I love his boiling lava/Steaming like a cup of java”). Meanwhile various shady individuals—maybe, maybe not government agents of various types—keep tabs on Chase and Cassie; somebody shoots Chase in the leg (possibly Reis); and Chase vanishes. Despite Chase's warnings, Cassie finds herself attracted to the charming and intelligent Reis and signs up for the show. People get shot or abducted; Cassie dances with a wooden-legged partner; werewolves and intelligent giant bats appear, along with shark gods, volcano gods and beings less gracious.

Pleasantly and improbably weird, in typical deadpan Wolfe fashion.