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Interlibrary Loan

(A Borrowed Man #2)

3.01  ·  Rating details ·  337 ratings  ·  88 reviews
Interlibrary Loan is the brilliant follow-up to A Borrowed Man a new science fiction novel from multi-award winner and national literary treasure Gene Wolfe

Hundreds of years in the future our civilization is shrunk down but we go on. There is advanced technology, there are robots.

And there are clones.

E. A. Smithe is a borrowed person, his personality an uploaded recording
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published June 30th 2020 by Tor Books
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Average rating 3.01  · 
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 ·  337 ratings  ·  88 reviews

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L.S. Popovich
Sequel to Wolfe's bizarre The Borrowed Man. Both orchestrated typical sleights of hand on my psyche. It is possible to get immersed in the surface-level narrative of a man who gets checked out from the library which is his institution of residence as a re-cloned mystery writer. Adventure ensures. But it is also possible you will fail to care for the seemingly inconsequential universe Wolfe has crafted in this one. However, the subtext, occasionally impenetrable, is strangely lacking in epic scal ...more
I enjoyed Wolfe's future version of our world with smaller centres of population where robots and clones are taken for granted.

Ern A. Smithe, introduced in 'The Borrowed Man' is a clone of an author, a writer of murder mysteries, whose personality has been uploaded into his clone. He is not a legal person but belongs to the library and may be borrowed with a library card (and a deposit to make sure he is returned unharmed). When they are not checked out they live on a library shelf and are fed
Michael Frasca
Aug 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
(Disclaimer—Gene Wolfe was a close neighbor and good friend of our family.)

Steganography /stɛɡəˈnɒɡrəfɪ/ NOUN - The practice of concealing messages or information
within other non-secret text or data.
- Oxford English Dictionary

Examples of steganography include a business letter with invisible ink in between the lines, a scarf with a message knitted into it using Morse Code, and, of course, the writings of Gene Wolfe.

Interlibrary Loan is about a library-owned, “re-cloned” mystery writer, who is
Jul 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
I’m gonna miss the strange and unsettling feeling of reading a new Wolfe.
Interlibrary Loan is the second book (and last) 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.

Ern A. Smithe, a reclone of the 21st Century mystery writer, is puzzled to find himself on the new and luxurious truck with two other reclone resources from Spice Grove Public Library. Ern’s friend, Millie Baumgartner is
Strange and lovely last words from Gene Wolfe

Photo: Patti Perret
Frank Vasquez
Jul 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Oh, good. Gene Wolfe left us with a mystery. This is a placeholder review because it would be a mistake to read a Wolfe novel once and then assume you a) know how you feel about it, b) understood it, c) read it thoroughly. A lot of folks see these points as reasons to trash his works, but I’m a reader and I love reading and there’s few to no authors that wrote for readers.
This book is a science fiction magical realism supernatural murder mystery treasure hunt, and, possibly, a love story. What
Great potential, but was just really confusing.
Galen Strickland
Sad enough to have lost Gene Wolfe last year. Now what might be the last novel we'll see is a disappointment. A sequel to A Borrowed Man, which I re-read earlier this week, and which I can give a reserved recommendation. Not so this one. Or was my ARC missing chapters?
Tim Hicks
Nov 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Oh ...kay. I suspect that the more you know about Wolfe, the more you'll think this is not at all what it appears to be. Sure, it might be a mediocre mystery set in a future world where worldbuilding is just assumed to have happened offstage, and it might have the weak ending of an elderly writer at the end of his career.

But I suspect that Gene's sitting backstage, smiling, because it's just as likely that every word here is carefully crafted, and if we are confused we are supposed to be.

May 15, 2020 rated it liked it
Wolfe is an acquired taste and I love many of his books. This one was just too obtuse and non linear for me to follow and enjoy
Nov 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Before passing away Gene Wolfe was working on this book and my impression upon reading it is that he had no time to finish it. Some evident continuity errors that the author would have polished and fixed after another draft and a rather inconclusive ending also seem to corroborate this theory.

However, people responsible for his legacy took the best decision: not to edit and not to finish it. So it is a gift to fans to read the farewell of this remarkable author, some say the greatest of all, unp
Mar 25, 2021 rated it really liked it
Gene Wolfe's weird take on future libraries:
BM01 A Borrowed Man
BM02 Interlibrary Loan

I liked the first one well enough to read the second one - and it was also well written but they're still not happy, and I still want to rescue them...
Jul 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Wolfe, Gene. Interlibrary Loan. A Borrowed Man No. 2. Tor, 2020.
Interlibrary Loan, a sequel to A Borrowed Man (2015), is science fiction grandmaster Gene Wolfe’s last novel. It was submitted to the publisher shortly before his death in the spring of 2019. The protagonist of both books is the “reclone” of a century-dead mystery writer, Ern A. Smithe. Not accorded human status, reclones are owned by libraries and serve as resource material for readers interested in their work. They must be “checke
Deb in UT
Oct 20, 2020 rated it liked it
This is a sequel to A Borrowed Man, a book I enjoyed enough to give four stars. I read somewhere that this novel was still a work in progress at the time of Gene Wolfe's death last year. It definitely doesn't seem finished or polished in his usual manner. There are parts that sound like him, particularly in the beginning, others not as much. If he wasn't finished, it does give insight into his writing process. That's how I'd like to view it.

I wouldn't recommend this except to people who are fans
Lisa McCoy
Jul 28, 2020 rated it it was ok
If this book had a plot or a point, I would have loved to have seen it. I didn’t realize until after I finished it that it was book two in a series. But still, it rambled and nothing fit together.
Kevin Hodgson
Aug 15, 2020 rated it it was ok
Way too many confusing plot holes ... I wanted to like it. I stayed with it. I'm sorry I did. ...more
Karen Cohn
May 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was an interesting book, and I enjoyed the premise: "reclones" are clones of book authors who have learned everything about the authors' works, as well as their lives. They are interactive, and can be checked out of the library for borrowers who are willing to make a significant deposit. Reclones have no legal rights, although the library has rights - borrowers who lose reclones must pay for them, just as they would for lost books. Ern A. Smithe, the main character, is one such reclone, a c ...more
Angie Jenkins
Jul 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book is difficult to review, as it was well written, lovely & frightening- all things that I find highly desirable in a story. I appreciate the ethical inquiries & discussions it inspired around things like cloning that are realistic possibilities given scientific advances. I also felt compassion for the characters, and I wanted them to somehow find a good end, despite the realities of their world and position within it... then, unfortunately there was no real end? I’m aware that the author ...more
David Hill
Jul 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction-sff
I generally write these notes within a few minutes of finishing the book. It has been a day and a half for this one, which is probably a good thing.

I found the ending somewhat abrupt and at the time didn't find it particularly satisfying. But having stewed a bit on it, several thoughts about the story in general and the ending, in particular, coalesced for me and I've upgraded my thoughts about it. I felt that, although there were some loose ends and other things weren't explained, it wasn't nec
Sep 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed “Interlibrary Loan” more than I had the first book in the series “A Borrowed Man”, but I still didn’t LOVE this book....and I really wanted to because the world and concept of human library resources sounds so fascinating. However, the writing was a tad uneven and the ended confused the hell out of me, in fact it read like the start to “Book 3”; if I had to hazard a guess, I would say that Gene Wolfe (who passed away) didn’t have the chance to finish editing his last novel and left his ...more
This is Gene Wolfe. So there has to be something I missed. This is Gene Wolfe, so a reread will probably show at least some more hints what this really is about. This last story he wrote is really a mystery. Or he did a joke leaving his readers and an army of ademics puzzled and thinking for the next 500 years. I did not read any other comment so maybe I am stupid. But maybe there is only a little something I missed. This is Gene Wolfe, he is clever, and I have to think about this ... I have to ...more
Dec 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sf, fantasy
I am going to have to re-read this one.

Fairly certain Smithe has been re-re-cloned.

Seems to be touching some of his older short stories on several plot points.
One is the Sherlock Holmes type stories where Watson is a robot and they are trying to save the other robots that are being used in T.V.s.
Another one (is a series of related stories) is where people are converted into ghosts to escape the energy death of the universe and end up jumping around in the multi-verse.
Daphne Manning
Jun 30, 2020 rated it it was ok
It took a moment to get the storyline of this book. Once in it has warmth but the kind you find in science fiction a backbone of unemotional truths. The villain isn’t so tangible and lies in the facts of the era, punishment comes in the form of removal from the familiar. I now must read the first of this trilogy I am hooked. Happy reading
Mar 12, 2021 rated it it was ok
Shelves: abandoned
I kept waiting for the story to start...gave up less than halfway in.
Ben Haines
Julie Stielstra
I'm tagging this "mystery-crime" because I don't have a sci-fi category, since I rarely read in that genre (with a few exceptions). But I've been a librarian for a very long time, so the cover and the title (and Gene Wolfe's name) caught my eye and made me smile. The concept of the book also made me smile: writers are cloned and re-cloned, with the brain contents of the original ("fully human" in the book's parlance) writer uploaded from a repository. They are then made available to patrons to c ...more
Holly Esterline
Apr 23, 2021 rated it it was ok
I liked the writing style, and the premise was interesting. Sometimes I thought I must have missed a paragraph or skipped a few pages, because often settings changed or knowledge appeared without any explanation that I could find. It felt like reading separate stories about the same characters in the same book.
Joe Karpierz
Dec 27, 2020 rated it liked it
INTERLIBRARY LOAN is the sequel to 2015's A BORROWED MAN, and is the final novel of Gene's Wolfe's outstanding and celebrated
career. The novel continues the story of a reclone of a mystery novelist named Ern A. Smithe. You may remember that a reclone is a being that has been cloned from the original, and in fact there can be and often are many copies of the reclone. Reclones reside in libraries, and can be checked out just like any other book, and must be returned like any other book. And just l
Dan'l Danehy-oakes
Jul 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I cannot honestly say that Wolfe's last novel is his best. But it is pretty good. Except for... but I'll get to that.

This is a sequel to Wolfe's 2015 novel _A Borrowed Man_, which introduced our protagonist, Ern A. Smithe. Ern, in his original life, was a writer of mysteries. Now he's a reclone - a copy of the original, complete with memories up to the last time he was "scanned", but slightly altered - so that he talks like his narrators, and so that he can create no new work. Creativity is for
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Gene Wolfe was an American science fiction and fantasy writer. He was noted for his dense, allusive prose as well as the strong influence of his Catholic faith, to which he converted after marrying a Catholic. He was a prolific short story writer and a novelist, and has won many awards in the field.

The Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award is given by SFWA for ‘lifetime achievement in science f

Other books in the series

A Borrowed Man (2 books)
  • A Borrowed Man

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