A Borrowed Man

A Borrowed Man

Book - 2015 | First edition.
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A Borrowed Man: a new science fiction novel, from Gene Wolfe, the celebrated author of the Book of the New Sun series.

It 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 clones.

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.

Publisher: New York :, Tor,, 2015.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780765381149
0765381141
Characteristics: 300 pages

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Vilka Sep 22, 2018

It had some very interesting aspects--people in the future can borrow cloned copies of their favourite authors (with the authors' memories imprinted into them) from the library, but these 'reclones' are considered property, have no human rights, and are disposed of if they're not checked out often; the reclones face the oddity of having memories that are not theirs, of lives they never lived--but these aspects were not well explored. If the story had delved more into that, I could have given it another star. But I'm also deducting a half-star for the bafflingly archaic, extremely passive female characters--this is more than a century in the future and the female lead is a spineless, helpless, childlike 'little old me'! Other women may have a little more sass but are basically objects for the protagonist to admire and sometimes try to sleep with. That he attempts it politely doesn't make it any less objectifying (ironic when he himself is considered an object) and it's still disappointing and annoying to read.

m
mammothhawk229e
Sep 14, 2018

Hardboiled mystery? Protagonist used brain instead of brawn to defeat his enemies.
Cozy mystery. Are you crazy with its plot?
Film noir? Sort of. The ending was different.
Dystopia? Not really. It felt middle America. However, protagonist/narrator have no human rights with limited lifespans.
Science fiction? Oh, yeah. Portable wormhole technology to another world to mine, robots clones with uploaded memories to borrowed like a library resource. Eek. Of course, it was limited to people whose brain were scanned. Or else people would ask say Jerry Pournelle "Why didn't you @#$%^&*() finish Janissaries IV or Mameluke? You had all the time from 1985 until your death in 2017! What is your excuse?"

p_leitch Jan 23, 2016

I am enjoying it and am only part way through.

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p_leitch Jan 23, 2016

p_leitch thinks this title is suitable for All Ages

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