I keep calling this book Home Fries.
No, I don’t have dyslexia. I just keep misreading the title. Probably because home fries are more satisfying than this novel.
Thing is – and this happens frequently – the concept behind Home Fires by Gene Wolfe is strong. In the future, Skip and Chelle fall in love and get married. But, Chelle is in the military and Earth is at war off-world. Before they can live happily ever after, she has to complete her tour of duty. However, due to the time it takes to travel to the front, the couple basically become time slipped: when she returns to Earth, Chelle is still a young woman in her twenties, while Skip is in his forties.
So, here’s this couple with vastly differing senses of their relationship timeline. Chelle has lived only a couple of years where Skip has lived a couple of decades. The two of them finding their way forward from there is really enough for one novel. That would’ve been satisfying.
But, there’s so much else thrown on top of it. There’s a mystery surrounding another woman’s identity. There’s a whole pirate hijacking thing on the cruise ship on which they’re vacationing. Cyborgs. Aliens. Spies.
It felt very much as if Home Fires started off as a genuinely interesting human drama set in the future, only to have someone decide that wasn’t enough and throw in a bunch of discombobulated devices because, you know, sci-fi.
While it’s definitely better than most of what I’ve reviewed here lately, Home Fires has too many problems to be a win.
Cheese Rating Scale: cheese log, like something Sandra Lee would make with Velveeta, EZ Cheese, mustard, and candied pecans.
Review copy provided by Tor.