[Epub] ↠ A Borrowed Man Author Gene Wolfe – Natus-physiotherapy.co.uk


A Borrowed Man A New SF Novel, A First Person Narrative In The Mode Of The Detective Story, From The Celebrated Author Of The Book Of The New Sun SeriesIt Is Perhaps A Hundred Years In The Future, Our Civilization Is Gone, And Another Is In Place In North America, But It Retains Many Familiar Things And Structures Although The Population Is Now Small, There Is Advanced Technology, There Are Robots, And There Are ClonesE A Smithe Is A Borrowed Person He Is A Clone Who Lives On A Third Tier Shelf In A Public Library, And His Personality Is An Uploaded Recording Of A Deceased Mystery Writer Smithe Is A Piece Of Property, Not A Legal HumanA Wealthy Patron, Colette Coldbrook, Takes Him From The Library Because He Is The Surviving Personality Of The Author Of Murder On Mars A Physical Copy Of That Book Was In The Possession Of Her Murdered Father, And It Contains An Important Secret, The Key To Immense Family Wealth It Is Lost, And Colette Is Afraid Of The Police She Borrows Smithe To Help Her Find The Book And To Find Out What The Secret Is And Then The Plot Gets Complicated


10 thoughts on “A Borrowed Man

  1. says:

    This was certainly less strange than the rest of Wolfe s work that I ve had the pleasure to read, but I kinda expected something a bitprogressive I mean, the idea behind a genetic library that reconstructs men and their lives to be checked out of a library does sound pretty interesting, and I can think of several storylines right off the bat that would really lend themselves to a very interesting story, even when it s an author who had been dead for a hundred years coming back to play a This was certainly less strange than the rest of Wolfe s work that I ve had the pleasure to read, but I kinda expected something a bitprogressive I mean, the idea behind a genetic library that reconstructs men and their lives to be checked out of a library does sound pretty interesting, and I can think of several storylines right off the bat that would really lend themselves to a very interesting story, even when it s an author who had been dead for a hundred years coming back to play a part in someone s game.But here s where managed expectations come in very nicely If I had gone into this just knowing that we re dealing with a mildly clever character concept to be dumped into a full blown Mystery novel that also happens to be SF, I wouldn t have much of an issue with it at all I tweaked my expectations and soon just got into the novel for what it was and it was fine.There was a shadow of Castle tv , a shadow of Kiln People, and even a pretty cool jaunt into a different world, but mainly it was all mystery times following all normal conventions It was entertaining and standard, with even reveals and a solid end.On the other hand, if you re reading the novel from a slightly deeper perspective, you ll be pleased to note the over and undertones of the book publishing industry, including shelf life for novels, reprints, and expectations for new works Read this way, it s a very entertaining novel and extremely tongue in cheek.If you don t care about that kind of thing, however, you might not really connect with the character concept too much Maybe It just feels a bit odd with a few major logical gaps In other words, this is genuine Gene Wolfe


  2. says:

    2.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum A Borrowed Man turned out to be less than I expected I was initially drawn to the book because of the vague hints at a futuristic dystopian setting, but it was undoubtedly the description of the protagonist that sealed the deal E.A Smithe is a clone, created for the sole purpose of being an educational resource and made available on loan to all patrons of the public library where he sits displayed fro 2.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum A Borrowed Man turned out to be less than I expected I was initially drawn to the book because of the vague hints at a futuristic dystopian setting, but it was undoubtedly the description of the protagonist that sealed the deal E.A Smithe is a clone, created for the sole purpose of being an educational resource and made available on loan to all patrons of the public library where he sits displayed from a third tier shelf It s an interesting premise, and paired with a mystery plot, this book should have scored a hit with me However, having great ideas for a story is one thing, but I suppose carrying them out is another.First though, a bitabout Smithe As a library reclone , our protagonist is seen asof a tool than a human being, just a piece of property with no legal rights When you think about libraries today, they are vast storehouses of knowledge where literary works are preserved for eternity, and anyone with a library card can borrow the great works of authors long since dead However, in Smithe s world, they ve gone even further than that Actual authors and artists from the recent past have been cloned, their brains filled with information from the last saved scans of the original individuals before their deaths So now not only can you borrow books and other media from the library, you can even choose to borrow their creators, whether you want to take them off the shelf for a consultation or lead them to the checkout counter to bring them home.The real E.A Smithe, the man who the main character was cloned from, was a pretty well known mystery writer in his day At the beginning of this story, a wealthy woman named Colette Coldbrook borrows his reclone, hoping to find outabout a book he wrote called Murder on Mars , a physical copy of which was in the possession Collette s late father Collette is convinced that the book contains important secrets and may be the key to the mystery of her murdered brother.I have to say, despite my issues with A Borrowed Man, the ideas in it are fascinating Smithe lives in an outwardly perfect world where civilization has been replaced by another system entirely, and most of humanity s problems have been eradicated with the population down to a sustainable billion or so However, dig deeper and you ll discover that those problems aren t really gone just carefully hidden or swept aside like they don t exist Then there s the situation with reclones As library property, we ve already established that Smithe isn t considered a real person, but it gets even darker anddisturbing than that Like other library resources that get too old or outdated, reclones are disposed of when they demand for them dwindles or when they aren t borrowed any Those who outlive their usefulness are drugged and then thrown unceremoniously into an incinerator.But ideas only got this story so far The plot started well enough before going downhill very early on the narrative had me but then it lost me, which is perhaps the most frustrating feeling of all when a great mystery doesn t meet its potential I didn t feel that the story was well developed, with frequent derailments by trivial matters that added nothing to the mystery These overcomplicated devices only made things feeltedious, along with a protagonist who was uninspiring, irritating, and repetitive I wasn t entirely ambivalent about the ending and how things would play out, but neither did I feel all that invested in solving the mystery.Audiobook comments I ve enjoyed many audiobook narrated by Kevin T Collins in the past, and I think he s great However, I felt he was the completely wrong choice to read this book Collins is amazing in high energy roles, which is the exact opposite of how I would describe the protagonist E.A Smithe, who came across as fussy and somewhat prim and old fashioned compared to those around him which actually makes sense since his memories and mannerisms belonged to a man from an earlier time I also pictured Smithe to be older man Collins voice sounds much younger, marking him well suited for the Young Adult audiobooks I ve listened to that were performed by him, but for A Borrowed Man, perhaps not so much.Overall, I didn t feel this novel lived up to its potential As a noir mystery, the story fell short, but I did find a lot of the sci fi aspects interesting and wished they had been better developed


  3. says:

    This sci fi mystery novel had an intriguing premise, but sadly that did not translate into an exciting story The story was slow paced and a little dull E.A Smithe is a reclone living in a dystopian society in the twenty second century He is a clone of the original E.A Smithe who was a mystery writer of note in his day The recloned E.A Smithe is a borrowed man He has no human rights and is not considered a real person He belongs to the Springbrook public library and is a resource that pe This sci fi mystery novel had an intriguing premise, but sadly that did not translate into an exciting story The story was slow paced and a little dull E.A Smithe is a reclone living in a dystopian society in the twenty second century He is a clone of the original E.A Smithe who was a mystery writer of note in his day The recloned E.A Smithe is a borrowed man He has no human rights and is not considered a real person He belongs to the Springbrook public library and is a resource that people can check out as they would a regular book Colette Coldbrook does just that as one of the original E.A Smithe s books, Murder on Mars, was the only thing found in the safe of her missing father and she believes the secret of the book is also connected to the recent murder of her brother She hopes the reclone E.A Smithe might be able to shed some light on the situation The mystery of the book and the deaths is mildly interesting, but nothingThe world building is so vague that it is tough to get a real feel for life in this dystopian twenty second century, even if the few glimpses we do get seem pretty interesting Ern Smithe was an interesting protagonist despite some of his inbuilt limitations Another slight irritation was the fact that Smithe did not prove to be the most trustworthy of narrators It made it tough to follow some of the happenings and to trust some of those that we did apparently witness through the eyes of Smithe.I must admit to being a bit disappointed that this did not turn out to be better That said, it was an OK read Rating 2.5 stars.Audio Note I thought Kevin T Collins gave a decent enough performance


  4. says:

    It s surprising to me that so many reviewers, knowing Gene Wolfe s style, still chose to take this story at face value If you thought this was a light, easy, and uncomplicated read, then you really need to re read it If you thought the central mystery was solved at the end, then I strongly suspect you never even knew the central mystery in the first place Gene Wolfe lies to his readers never forget that The plot of A Borrowed Man might at first seem like a standard mystery, with the major It s surprising to me that so many reviewers, knowing Gene Wolfe s style, still chose to take this story at face value If you thought this was a light, easy, and uncomplicated read, then you really need to re read it If you thought the central mystery was solved at the end, then I strongly suspect you never even knew the central mystery in the first place Gene Wolfe lies to his readers never forget that The plot of A Borrowed Man might at first seem like a standard mystery, with the major plot points wrapped up at the endbut pay attention Look at what elements make no sense Hint quite a lot of the ending makes no sense at all if you actually think about it Look at what elements the author doesn t even pretend to explain Pay attention, and don t let yourself be fooled If you do that, and don t just take the story at face value, I think you ll be surprised at what you discover here.If anything, the fact that Gene Wolfe managed to thoroughly fool so many readers, readers who really should have known better, speaks particularly highly of the quality of this book


  5. says:

    3.75 stars Clearly, Gene Wolfe wrote many works of depth and breadth and of inestimable worth to genre fiction, if we deign to call it that.A Borrowed Man was his final published novel, from 2015, published 45 years after his first one In this slightly futuristic tale, he adopts an unaccustomed voice and tells an unpredictable tale with a wacky conceit I can see how the narrator, Ern A Smithe, will fluster a lot of fans, but since this character was a mystery writer before his recloning 3.75 stars Clearly, Gene Wolfe wrote many works of depth and breadth and of inestimable worth to genre fiction, if we deign to call it that.A Borrowed Man was his final published novel, from 2015, published 45 years after his first one In this slightly futuristic tale, he adopts an unaccustomed voice and tells an unpredictable tale with a wacky conceit I can see how the narrator, Ern A Smithe, will fluster a lot of fans, but since this character was a mystery writer before his recloning I found the somewhat average to sub par word choice strangely appropriate What islikely, that Gene Wolfe wrote all of these mediocre sentences in order to construct the illusion of reality around his pulp concoction world building and further obfuscate his satire and sleights of symbolism, or he suddenly lost his writing ability after 45 years You can believe the reviewers who bash the book if you want, but you d be missing out on another absorbing, fast paced, layered Wolfian creation.In this version of the future, libraries have other uses, bots, and clones intrude into the lives of jaded aristocrats, and murder is an act as cliched as it is serious What better way to poke fun at the mystery genre than to write a mystery with a mystery writer as the main character, and put this character through the ringer in ways that he could not predict or extricate himself from Aside from the subtle comments on publishing, genres, and the subliminal library puns there is an underlying sadness to Smithe s less than human life, his lost love, and the tired tropes he embodies Like Wolfe s An Evil Guest, what might have been a clever, light reading experience is complicated by contortions of reality and the slow burn surprise of the ending Relish the hidden clues in minor details, and even if you don t read between the lines, you will be entertained


  6. says:

    I read A Borrowed Man honor of Gene Wolfe s passing last month.If anyone else had written this novel, I d commend them for nicely mixing together two genres A Borrowed Man is one part mystery, one part science fiction We follow a mystery writer well, his clone as he is hired actually, borrowed, hence the title to solve one mystery, which then yields others This draws from classic American private eye stories, complete with wisecracking thugs, interrogations, beat downs, escapes, a Macguff I read A Borrowed Man honor of Gene Wolfe s passing last month.If anyone else had written this novel, I d commend them for nicely mixing together two genres A Borrowed Man is one part mystery, one part science fiction We follow a mystery writer well, his clone as he is hired actually, borrowed, hence the title to solve one mystery, which then yields others This draws from classic American private eye stories, complete with wisecracking thugs, interrogations, beat downs, escapes, a Macguffin, and the plots ultimately explained in a very satisfactory way At the same time we follow our clone narrator into the future, a high tech world with flying cars, ubiquitous screens, plenty of robots, consumer grade atomic power plants, underpopulation 143 , public pornography, a new calendar system 232 , and, of course, cloning Cloned authors can be checked out of libraries The United States is now the Continental Government And yet enough of our present world persists to make things credible bus stations, inter library loan, bad family portraits Through this classic sf trope present day ish person enters the future Wolfe sketches out a fascinating world andI don t want to say, because of spoilers.So a good novel It s very well written, the plots reveal themselves neatly, some action appears, as do several romances Fortunes are reversed Shadowy character details resolve But because this is a Gene Wolfe story there s a lotgoing on that merely combining two genres and doing it well.For one, A Borrowed Man s world is one that s much darker than I think most reviewers have caught From the second page we re informed that our narrator is a human being defined as subhuman, facing torture if he doesn t obey orders 115 and being burned alive if he fails to perform 9, 222 Reclone women appear in publicly screened porn videos, and seem to be raped 141 Nobody protests at this Fourth Industrial Revolution form of slavery Meanwhile, characters repeatedly come across old ruined towns and starved looking children in rags 144 is this a result of whatever mysteriously depopulated the world The world s nations have experienced a decline in skills and knowledge, along with experiencing a legitimation crisis 273 Defective people are terrified of being found out Police and criminals are equally terrifying and hard to tell apart And the solutions to several mysteries are brutal.We are also in the hands of a narrator who doesn t tell us everything, a classic Wolfe figure We rarely see how characters react to him, even when he appears in public covered in blood He explicitly and implicitly hides his thoughts and plans from other people, including the reader The first and second paragraphs are a game played with the author, challenging us to continue We know Smithe has been shaped by mental condition to not do certain things, and to speak in a very formal style.Wolfe stretches our imagination into surreal territory several times, nearly making me consider it a fantasy How reclone authors actually fit in libraries isn t quite clear They sound like books, with multiple shelves, yet they also inhabit apartments with common areas Are the libraries actually vast buildings, something like tenements, or is some spacetime warping going on That would fit a key plot theme Also ahem, view spoiler getting into the accessible alien world is described in very dreamlike, un hard science fiction ways, as if the plot had slid sideways Is this just an effect of Clarke s Law Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic hide spoiler Various references stir my curiosity Our narrator is known as E.A , which naturally makes me think of Poe, relevant here as one of detective fiction s founders His first name, Ern, is a homophone for urn, a fitting link given the character s promised fate ashes , as well as his cultural status holding a dead thing, a writer s memories There s a fine Clark Ashton Smith poem quoted, which suggests that our hero is a victor in imagination only, which sounds about right 285 The new United States is run by a Continental authority, which suggests Hammett s Continental Op, which does make sense for how Smithe proceeds I m not sure what to make of all of the C s Coldbrook, Colette, Conrad.Let me turn to the end view spoiler On the one hand, there is a lot of narrative satisfaction A bad guy gets his, sidekicks are rewarded, the main mysteries are revealed, and our hero escapes termination Smithe finally writes the book we read Yet the world of reclones remains, and the broader world is untouched Smithe is still trapped in the third tier He reconnects briefly with beloved Arabella, then leaves her for good Humanity has made an extraordinary breakthrough by creating a bridge to a new world and Smithe literally closes the door on it He ensures that a murderer Colette, a parricide goes free.John Clute says this one might almost be able to say this is the saddest story I have ever heard, even though A Borrowed Man, which tells a tale out of the old age of the author of Peace 1975 , may not be quite the most adamantly terminal novel Gene Wolfe has ever written A Borrowed Man does not escape from prison through doors it is a prison upon which the doors have shut a trap without exit.I feel much of this as well hide spoiler At the same time this novel is a song in praise of books and their writers, despite its many messages of dread A book holds the key to many of the story s mysteries People can still turn to libraries for help A writer solves riddles Books are gateways I d put A Borrowed Man in the second rank of Wolfe s books Four and a half stars, nudged to five because RIP


  7. says:

    Wolfe is, by far, my favorite writer He probably is the finest living American author A borrowed man is simply one of his best stand alone novels It is a book about writers and books Books that can literally open passages to other green worlds.It is a Gene Wolfe novel and like any Gene Wolfe novel it demands your full attention.A borrowed man is about the author and the immortality that the author can achieve through his work One by one across the dessert Until our boots grow too heavy wit Wolfe is, by far, my favorite writer He probably is the finest living American author A borrowed man is simply one of his best stand alone novels It is a book about writers and books Books that can literally open passages to other green worlds.It is a Gene Wolfe novel and like any Gene Wolfe novel it demands your full attention.A borrowed man is about the author and the immortality that the author can achieve through his work One by one across the dessert Until our boots grow too heavy withThe sands of time


  8. says:

    A Borrowed Man is the first book in the Borrowed Man series by award winning American author, Gene Wolfe It s the twenty second century, the human population is down to a billion, technology is highly advanced, and bots, sims and clones are part of everyday life.Not in great demand, and having thus languished on his Level Three shelf at the Spice Grove Public Library for some time, E.A.Smithe is inordinately pleased when Colette Coldbrook arrives to check him out of the library For one thing, A Borrowed Man is the first book in the Borrowed Man series by award winning American author, Gene Wolfe It s the twenty second century, the human population is down to a billion, technology is highly advanced, and bots, sims and clones are part of everyday life.Not in great demand, and having thus languished on his Level Three shelf at the Spice Grove Public Library for some time, E.A.Smithe is inordinately pleased when Colette Coldbrook arrives to check him out of the library For one thing, it extends the period before he is burned due to undemand for another, it relieves the boredom.Ern is a reclone of the long ago deceased author of several mystery novels, including Murder on Mars, and Colette needs him to help her solve a mystery involving just that book In the past six weeks, Colette tells Smithe, she has lost first her father, then her brother Cob was murdered just after he delivered to her the sole item he had found in their father s safe, a copy of Murder on Mars Colette is convinced it holds the key to the family s fortune, and that Smithe, as the author of the book, can help her find it Ern is certainly willing, if it means he will be checked out Ern wonders about her precautions with regards being overheard, but it quickly apparent that her paranoia is justified Collette explains that her father was a financial genius, brilliant but also very secretive By the time Ern has examined Conrad Colbrook Senior s house and laboratory, and made enquiries, he begins to figure out what is going on, and understands that Colette has been less than truthful Part dystopian tale, part sci fi, this cleverly plotted story manages to include murder and violence, emeralds and aliens, listening devices, crooked cops and nuclear reactors Wolfe s world building is subtle and seamless bearing in mind that his original self died over a century ago, Smithe s lengthy sojourn on his shelf in the library is the perfect excuse for his ignorance of things modern, and his curiosity.As a mystery writer, Smithe spends a good deal of time on deduction and logistics, and his conclusions about motivation and behaviour are reminiscent of a 1940 s detective At a deeper level, there is also the dystopian aspect, a commentary on society reclones considered subhuman humans with disabilities live in fear sexism, poverty and violence commonplace andHowever, the resolution is extremely satisfactory, and readers who enjoy this novel will be pleased to know that E.A.Smithe reappears in the sequel, Interlibrary Loan This is a superb read


  9. says:

    I received a review copy of this book from the publisher through Edelweiss.The other books I have read by Gene Wolfe were intricate, dense books of detail and magic, books that almost required a re read once you reached the end This is not like those books, and I m trying to separate my surprise at the change in writing style from the book itself The publisher describes it best E A Smithe is a borrowed person He is a clone who lives on a third tier shelf in a public library, and his person I received a review copy of this book from the publisher through Edelweiss.The other books I have read by Gene Wolfe were intricate, dense books of detail and magic, books that almost required a re read once you reached the end This is not like those books, and I m trying to separate my surprise at the change in writing style from the book itself The publisher describes it best E A Smithe is a borrowed person He is a clone who lives on a third tier shelf in a public library, and his personality is an uploaded recording of a deceased mystery writer Smithe is a piece of property, not a legal human.A wealthy patron, Colette Coldbrook, takes him from the library because he is the surviving personality of the author of Murder on Mars A physical copy of that book was in the possession of her murdered father, and it contains an important secret, the key to immense family wealth It is lost, and Colette is afraid of the police She borrows Smithe to help her find the book and to find out what the secret is And then the plot gets complicated At its heart it isof a mystery novel with a twist Light and fun to read, but I m not sure it s a reread type


  10. says:

    This one is a really strange mix It s like a detective noir sci fi in a dystopian society that s only occasionally mentioned Or maybe the dystopian parts are noir ish At the same time there s a cheer and naivete to the narrator s telling of the story Cheerful sci fi noir Whatever the case may be, it s an odd book.E.A Smithe is a reclone, which means they grew a clone body of the real Smithe, who was an author, and downloaded a brain scan so that he would have all of his memories Reclones This one is a really strange mix It s like a detective noir sci fi in a dystopian society that s only occasionally mentioned Or maybe the dystopian parts are noir ish At the same time there s a cheer and naivete to the narrator s telling of the story Cheerful sci fi noir Whatever the case may be, it s an odd book.E.A Smithe is a reclone, which means they grew a clone body of the real Smithe, who was an author, and downloaded a brain scan so that he would have all of his memories Reclones can be checked out of the library, or just called up for an hour s chat, which does indeed mean they sleep on library shelves, or something like that that is man sized.Colette s brother was murdered shortly after their father s death and the only clue she has is a copy of a book that Smithe wrote She checks him out of the library so he can help her try to figure out what s going on But like all good dames, the lady s got a lot of secrets Solving these secrets along the way is what makes up the story We have the reclone of a writer of mystery novels that is using his research and knowledge gained through writing to solve a real life mystery.I ve seen a couple of complaints about this book One is that sexism is alive and well in this society It s set 100 or so years in the future and women are pretty much back to being patted on the head and told not to worry their pretty little heads I thought this actually represented the society rather than being the author s beliefs, especially since there was a scene at a bus stop where they were showing various porn films on the screens while the passengers waited It was like you were getting drops of clues that brought the noir feel in but not all the way, which made it feel sexist instead of cultural.The other complaint I noticed was about how two dimensional the characters felt They did indeed feel that way I attributed it to the fact that although the character had a lifetime of memories, he had no real world experience and this was told in first person It was this element that made the book feel like cheerful naivete to me.It really is a weird book and I can see how it would be divisive in opinions It doesn t seem to be enough of any one thing to hang your hat on, genre wise I enjoyed it but I m unlikely to revisit it in the future


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