Episode 261: Gene Wolfe, John Clute and A Borrowed Man

Welcome to the first of Coode Street’s seasonal hiatus episodes. This November Gary and Jonathan were in Saratoga Springs for the World Fantasy Convention. Over the weekend they recorded several conversations that will come out over the coming weeks.

In this first podcast, they sit down with living legend Gene Wolfe to discuss his latest novel, A Borrowed Man. The publisher describes the book like this:

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.

We were extremely fortunate to be joined by Hugo Award winning critic John Clute for the conversation with Gene.  We’d like to thank John and Gene for making the time to appear on the podcast during what was a very busy weekend. We’d also like to apologise for some background noise in the recording, which we’ve attempted to remove.

As always, we hope you enjoy the podcast. More next week!

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