Free Live Free
by Gene Wolfe (Published by Tor and Mark V. Ziesing)
Nominated for Best Novel in 1986
“Free Live Free,” said the newspaper ad, and the out-of-work detective Jim Stubb, the occultist Madame Serpentina, the salesman Ozzie Barnes, and the overweight prostitute Candy Garth are brought together to live for a time in Free’s old house, a house scheduled for demolition to make way for a highway.
Free drops mysterious hints of his exile from his homeland, and of the lost key to his return. And so when demolition occurs and Free disappears, the four make a pact to continue the search, which ultimately takes them far beyond their wildest dreams.
This is character-driven science fiction at its best by a writer whom, at the time of its first publication, the Chicago Sun-Times called “science fiction’s best genuine novelist.”