- Hardcover: 304 pages
- Publisher: Tor Books; 1St Edition edition (October 20, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0765381141
- ISBN-13: 978-0765381149
- Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1.1 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 51 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,307,328 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
A Borrowed Man: A Novel Hardcover – October 20, 2015
|New from||Used from|
Frequently bought together
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
About the Author
Gene Wolfe (1931-2019) was the Nebula Award-winning author of The Book of the New Sun tetralogy in the Solar Cycle, as well as the World Fantasy Award winners The Shadow of the Torturer and Soldier of Sidon. He was also a prolific writer of distinguished short fiction, which has been collected in such award-winning volumes as Storeys from the Old Hotel and The Best of Gene Wolfe.
A recipient of the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement, the Edward E. Smith Memorial Award, and six Locus Awards, among many other honors, Wolfe was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2007, and named Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America in 2012.
Read reviews that mention
Showing 1-8 of 51 reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
As a reader who buys Gene Wolfe books sight unseen before publication, naturally, A Borrowed Man magically showed up on release date. As with any Wolfe novel, you have to measure it before you read it. It took me several months to measure it and then I read it.
A Borrowed Man occupies the Wolfe shelf in my mind that I call "Wolfe Mysteries," "Mysteries" being the more prosaic definition of the term as used in literature. Like Free Live Free, Castleview, There Are Doors, and The Sorcerer's House, even The Land Across, A Borrowed Man is a mystery and/or detective novel. Of course, what Wolfe detects in these novels and the detectives he employs are decidedly different than your Raymond Chandler pulps, but it does seem to be a trope Wolfe feels comfortable with.
A Borrowed Man is perhaps an even more direct reflection of this trope, as the protagonist is a revivified clone of a 21st century detective novelist and made available for "check out" at libraries in a 22nd century version of the USA. Of course, the mystery at hand involves a beautiful, enigmatic heiress who checks him out to help her solve a not so normal slice-and-dump. This is Gene Wolfe, after all.
Having said that, the arc, tone, and structure, is old-school and perhaps that's what put me off. I'd really like to rate this 3 1/2 stars, but the extra half goes to Wolfe on general principle. As with almost all Wolfe books, I'll need to re-read it to catch what I missed just following the story arc, but that may take a while, as the trope is, to me, off-putting. Additionally, he utilizes a narrative trick where the narrator's own voice and usage is at odds with the character he created for his pulp detective stories. I see what Wolfe is trying to do, but, to me, it is rarely successful.
I suppose one could characterize ALL Wolfe books as mysteries, but the approaches differ. The Book of the New Sun was so fabulous because of Severian, the unreliable narrator, and the manifold mysteries he discovers, solves (rightly or wrongly), and the implications of the denouement. I also enjoyed the Soldier series, with the incredible backdrop of ancient Greece, and felt that the third volume, A Soldier of Sidon, was one of Wolfe's very best novels ever. I also dearly love On Blue's Waters, the first book in the so-called Short Sun series, because of its elegiac and expansive voice, perhaps the most personal novel Wolfe has ever written.
For newcomers to Wolfe, particularly if they have heard of all the praise--rightly--heaped upon the writer's oeuvre, A Borrowed Man would leave them wondering what all the fuss was about. With Wolfe, one really should start at the beginning with The Fifth Head of Cerberus, then The Book of the New Sun. After avidly re-reading and soaking in those volumes, you can appreciate Wolfe's prowess much more acutely with his more intimately constructed books. Also, grab any of his short fiction collections (i.e., Endangered Species) because short forms concentrate and bring out his marvelous storytelling skills.
I loved it. While the plot was paced well and I found myself burning through this novel, I found myself pausing to consider the implications of the plot and the milieu in which they are occurring. There were flourishes that diehard Wolfe fans would appreciate: in the background of this murder mystery is a humanity that has lost its way. It stands alone as a fun and provocative read, with an intriguing protagonist who, true to Wolfe, suffers from a flaw not of character but born of circumstance.
This may be obvious to other Gene Wolfe fans: the last several Wolfe novels march toward emphasizing mystery writing as a commentary on the human condition, with the speculative nature of the work used to create more tension and highlight some of the subtleties. None of these books were unlikable; it was the evolving/changing style that I was challenged to understand. In fact, after reading A Borrowed Man and the stellar The Land Across, I can't wait to go back and re-read Home Fires and An Evil Guest. I suspect that this time I'll be less puzzled and even more intrigued. I'm grateful that Wolfe continues to write and continues to play the artist with his writing. Wikipedia says that the next Wolfe novel will be called Interlibrary Loan--could it be a sequel? I truly hope so.