Death of the Island Doctor • 1983 • Short story by Gene Wolfe



Eccentric professor Dr. Insula’s speciality (Latin for island) are islands, only islands: “including isles, atolls, islets, holms, eyots, archipelagos, and some of the larger reefs … but definitely not peninsulas”

No one attends his classes for years. One year, two students sign up and are confronted with amusing citations and references on … well, islands. As a home task, he sends them to a certain island in a river to report back what they found magical there. Returning the following week, they find him dead.


This story concludes the archipelago story cycle. It is more a metafictional story than driven by a plot: It contrasts the previous achipelago stories which concentrate more on the aspects of loneliness or isolation with two people who escape loneliness and find their love.

I loved the word plays around islands, everything in it cites them in one form or the other, from Ceylon tea to Scotch bread

Meta: isfdb. This short story by Gene Wolfe was published 1983 in The Wolfe Archipelago. I read it as part of the collection The Best of Gene Wolfe.


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