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.
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Ern A. Smithe lives "on a Level Three shelf in the Spice Grove Public Library," from which as a "reclone" of the novelist whose name he bears he may be borrowed at any time. Heiress Colette Coldbrook checks him out to help solve the mystery of her brother's murder, the key to which involves a Smithe novel from the library of Colette's late father. Reclone Smithe soon learns that he and Colette are in danger, and that her father's secret is stranger than he could have imagined. Smithe lives in an exhausted, decadent near future where the world's population has dwindled to a billion, library reclones like Smithe have no rights and are destined for incineration if no one consults them or checks them out, and a "defective" mute woman risks being arrested by the state. Wolfe (The Land Across) builds this SF noir into a strange, unsettling story, deceptively simple and old-fashioned in style and plot, but full of disturbing details that are intensified by the deadpan humor and matter-of-fact flatness of Smithe's narrative voice.