PEORIA — Gene Wolfe, the iconic and prolific science fiction writer who made Peoria his home in later years, has died at age 87.

The sci-fi website cites heart disease as the cause of death.

Wolfe's best-known work, "The Book of the New Sun," was originally published as four linked works between 1980-83. They received a host of awards in the genre and in 1998 readers of the science fiction / fantasy magazine Locus voted it the third-best fantasy novel written before 1990, bested only by J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit."

Wolfe's novels and stories show strong influence from his Catholic faith.

The author, who legends in the field like Neil Gaiman and Ursula K. Le Guin cited as an inspiration, wrote more than 30 novels in addition to a number of short stories.

Gaiman visited him in 2015 in Peoria, labeling him "the best of us" in a tweet.

Yesterday I stopped off in Peoria to see Gene Wolfe and his dog and his eternal Christmas Tree. He's the best of us.

— Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) August 24, 2015

Gaiman said in another tweet Monday that he had planned to return this week to visit Wolfe here.

I wrote this about Gene Wolfe for the Guardian, a few years ago. I was going to see him in Peoria on Wednesday, and now I never will.

— Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) April 15, 2019

The New Yorker, which profiled him in 2015, described his works in a tweet Monday as material that "grappled with complicated questions of memory and truth"

The writer Gene Wolfe, known as the Melville of science fiction, has died. Wolfe’s beloved stories and novels grappled with complicated questions of memory and truth.

— The New Yorker (@NewYorker) April 15, 2019

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America named Wolfe a Grand Master in 2012, a title he shared with Peorian Philip Jose Farmer and other science fiction luminaries including Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury and Arthur C. Clarke.

He also received the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement in 1996 and was inducted by the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2007.

A Korean War veteran, Wolfe studied at Texas A&M and got a degree from the University of Houston, working as an engineer.

He edited the professional journal Plant Engineering in his younger life, and is credited with involvement in the invention of the machine that cooks Pringles potato chips.

His wife Rosemary died of Alzheimer's disease in 2013. Wolfe is survived by two daughters and a son, as well as three granddaughters.

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