Free Live Free

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Free Live Free
Free Live Free (cover, first edition).jpg
First (limited) edition
AuthorGene Wolfe
Cover artistCarl Lundgren
CountryUnited States
GenreScience fiction
PublisherMark V. Ziesing
Publication date
Media typePrint (hardback & paperback)

Free Live Free is a novel by American writer Gene Wolfe, first published in 1984.


Mr. Free has a house which is slated for demolition. He puts an ad in a newspaper advertising free living quarters to anyone who helps him find a mysterious lost object hidden in the house. Four strangers (a mystic, a private eye, a prostitute, and a salesman) arrive.

Publishing history[edit]

The novel was initially published as a limited edition small press item in 1984, then mass market published by Gollancz in 1985. In 1999, it was republished by Tor Books, with an appendix intended to "untangle some of the more serpentine elements of the plot."[1]


In Starburst, David Langford called Free Live Free a "fine, delightful book", while emphasizing that it is ultimately "unclassifiable".[2] At the SF Site, Jean-Louis Trudel called it "deeply engaging", with "a compassion not always evident in Wolfe's other books", but felt that its conclusion was "a bit of a letdown", with certain revelations and explanations being "not entirely persuasive;"[3] while Kirkus Reviews described it as "an uneasy, lurching mix of fantasy, science fiction, and mystery", stated that the conclusion was "a bust", and asked why Wolfe "can't put together a book that fully convinces and satisfies."[4] CNN states that it is "outrageous", "ingenious", "highly entertaining", and "masterful", but concedes that the ending is not only "contrived", but "confusing", and that only "Wolfe's mastery of the written word" prevents the novel from being entirely burlesque.[1]


  1. ^ a b Manic intensity rivals the Marx Brothers: 'Free Live Free', by Gene Wolfe, at CNN; by L.D. Meagher; published August 3, 1999
  2. ^ Short Langford Reviews - Gene Wolfe: Free Live Free, by David Langford; originally published in Starburst #88 (1985); archived at Ansible online archive; retrieved June 15, 2014
  3. ^ Free Live Free, by Jean-Louis Trudel, at the SF Site; published 1999; retrieved June 15, 2014
  4. ^ FREE LIVE FREE, By Gene Wolfe, at Kirkus Reviews; originally published November 19, 1985; retrieved June 15, 2014