“The Death of Doctor Island” is a 1973 science fiction novella by Gene Wolfe. It is about a mentally disturbed teenage boy who is sent to a very high tech rehabilitation center.
Have you ever been to therapy? I have, (Shh! Don’t tell anyone!) and I found it incredibly useful. However, after reading this story I very much wished that I could visit the doctor/island in this story. Now that is what I call awesome therapy! Oh, except for the homicidal guy – yeah, he was a little bit scary.
Non-spoiler Summary in a Nutshell
Nicholas Kenneth de Vore has just been transferred to the island, and what a lovely place it is! A beautiful, tropical island that talks to and helps Nicholas, and it is nearly deserted. Yeah, there are 2 other people on the therapeutic island – but everyone on it is crazy in their own special way. (How fun is that!) But the island (Dr. Island, by the way) has a plan to help them. The only problem is that the plan doesn’t end so well – but did it help anyone? Hmm… good question.
My Two Cents…
- Doctor Island was a very cool idea – in both a psychological and science fictiony kind of way.
- I really enjoyed the character of Nicholas / Kenneth. Both his personality and his past were quite interesting to read about.
- This is a classic Gene Wolfe story, which could be good or bad for you. It is very descriptive and starts out slow, but the ending is both strange and cool. If you like his other stuff then you’ll probably like this one too.
Interesting Tidbits About This Story:
- Page Count: 51
- “The Death of Doctor Island” won the 1974 Nebula and Locus Awards for Best Novella, and was also nominated for the Hugo Award.
- Did you know that Gene Wolfe is a convert to the Catholic faith? Yep. You can learn more about this amazing author at Wikipedia.
Where You Can Find The Death of Doctor Island:
- This story was originally published in the 1973 anthology Universe 3, edited by Terry Carr.
- You can read a free online version of “The Death of Doctor Island” at the Harper Collins web site. (Hint: Use the Table of Contents button to jump to Chapter 1)
- This novella is also part of the awesome collection The Best of Gene Wolfe: A Definitive Retrospective of His Finest Short Fiction.
Craving More Science Fiction Short Stories?
If you liked “The Death of Doctor Island” then you may enjoy Memorare, about a man making a documentary of the dangerous tombs built in asteroids, also by Gene Wolfe.