A Borrowed Man by Gene Wolfe
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
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 bit more progressive. 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. :)
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