It may seem odd, writing a review of a book that is out of print, yet this is one of Wolfe's books that has strangely grown on me over the years, one which I have reread many times (I have reread the Book of the New Sun many times as well, though for different reasons). Not properly science fiction, or even garden-variety fantasy, it is a more like magic realism. As always, Wolfe likes to break rules, confounding the reader's expectations at every turn. The point of view character is not a larger than life hero like Severian or Patera Silk. Rather, he is a department store furniture salesman with subtle but serious mental problems, the sort of gray little man you might see every day, but couldn't describe five minutes later. He has also discovered that there are doors from here to there, "there" being a parallel world where women dominate and men die young. As the novel begins, he is recovering from a brief fling with a woman who has affected him like no other, and his pursuit of her leads him to discover that she is the physical embodiment of the Female Principal itself, the Goddess. She walks among mankind from time to time, and selects lovers who are unlikely to be believed (like the probably schizophrenic narrator). The central character's fractured psychology and his willingness to accept whatever reality is foisted upon him reminded me of a fever dream (and indeed, the second time I approached the book, I was down with the flu, and curiously, it made me more responsive to the material). As Wolfe moves his character back and forth between the worlds (with stops in mental institutions on both sides), he explores themes of alienation and isolation, the knowledge that one is fundamentally damaged and therefore different from one's fellows. And he unashamedly explores obsessive love and redemption from a man's point of view (curious that there is a whole literary industry devoted to women's expressions of love, but nothing for men--this kind of vulnerability is too frightening to most male readers I suppose). And it addresses the age-old question, is love a gift that is given or a prize to be earned?