The invasion from Mars came in the early years of the 21st century. And all over America people were praying for it to succeed. For 2 decades, the United States had been slipping into a primitive past, turning its back on technology -- and abandoning its Martian colony. Its "emergency" government was kept in power by repression, food was scarce, life grim..and killer packsThe invasion from Mars came in the early years of the 21st century. And all over America people were praying for it to succeed. For 2 decades, the United States had been slipping into a primitive past, turning its back on technology -- and abandoning its Martian colony. Its "emergency" government was kept in power by repression, food was scarce, life grim..and killer packs of wild animals prowled at night, making curfews a vital need....
|Number of Pages||:||208 Pages|
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Operation Ares Reviews
Gene Wolfe fights a near-constant battle in my head with Cormac McCarthy (with occasional guest appearances by Phillip K. Dick and Nabokov) for title of favoritest author ever, so I was very interested in finding a copy of Operation Ares, a novel reportedly so bad Wolfe's publishers don't mention it in his list of works and keep from being reprinted. And while OA isn't actually the worst thing Wolfe has ever written (Castleview, allllways Castleview), I can see why they don't.The plot is fairly simple: some years ago, humanity established a colony on Mars, then got into a war with it when Earth became a pseudo-Communist, anti-technology hellhole lorded over by a small group of powerful plutocrats. Mars has (presumably) been expanding instead, and there's worry they're planning to invade Earth and liberate it's oppressed citizens. It's all very dystopian, from the harsh gestapo tactics of the government "peaceguard" to the packs of feral mutant animals that keep humanity living in massive slum cities. It's also right-wing as all hell: but it's 70's right-wing, which compared to the frothing demagoguery of today seems kind of quaint and homey. It has all the hallmarks of Wolfe at his worst: meandering conversations, a disjointed narrative, characters making bizarre decisions that are only explained dozens of pages later - with almost none of the prose quality that puts Wolfe head and shoulders above other sci-fi. It's somewhat entertaining as a curio for the Gene Wolfe completist (the fact that he went from this to Peace and The Fifth Head of Cerberus in three years is jaw-dropping), but you definitely don't want to make it your first (or second, or even fifth) Wolfe novel.
I'm a Gene Wolfe completist, which is probably the only reason anyone would be reading this book these days. For reasons unclear to me, Gene Wolfe and his publishers have completely disowned this book. It does not appear in any official lists from Gene or his publishers, and he appears to just be kind of wishing it away. I'm not really sure why, there isn't anything truly objectionable in it. You can certainly tell it's his first work, and you see some of the writing style that he will perfect later kind of seeping through. Overall, though, the book is pretty dated, and has some strange philosophical / geo-political stuff in there; but it has decent pacing, and a plot twist or two (which TBH he telegraphed a little more than I expected he would).Overall, this is a middle of the road read (even by the standards of the day) but if you like Gene Wolfe it's worth picking up a copy to see where he started (and how much better he became). I got a used paperback for almost nothing, glued the spine back together, and read it whenever I had 20-30 minutes or more to kill during an appointment.
I mainly associate Gene Wolfe with the Book of the New Sun, a staggering, profoundly immersive work and some of the best books I've read in the last few years. So it's a little weird to read him doing straightforward pulp scifi, like "Operation Ares," his first novel. In the early 21st century, welfare bureaucrats have suspended constitutional governance and run America into the ground. Wolfe's depiction of callous, patronizing social service bureaucracy actually does seem pretty sharply drawn, though some of the other choices he makes for the world -- namely, the welfare state consciously turning its back on technology, allowing the Soviets (now allies with the US) to pull way ahead -- are real headscratchers even from the perspective of a paranoid mid-century American right-winger. The hero is a standard-issue scifi ubermensch, universally competent and cool-headed, who chafes under this reign of mediocrity and conspires with Martian colonists -- who the liberals in the US abandoned and blame for their troubles -- and, weirdly enough, the Maoist Chinese to rebel against the government and bring back the constitution.Even leaving aside the politics, it's a bit of a bummer to read Wolfe do such generic plots (and often hare-brained, ill-explained schemes- he would come to master the use of limiting information to the reader, but hadn't at this time) and stock characters. But he brings some glimmers to it that more pedestrian writers wouldn't. To his credit, the charges of the welfare bureaucrats are depicted as realistic humans (and, seemingly, aren't racialized), and develop some interesting ideas of their own, including a sort of urban-primitivist hunter cult that's pretty well-drawn. He gets some good mileage out of the strains in the alliance between the cerebral, technocratic Mars colonists, the Maoists, and the ragtag American constitutionalists, and isn't naive about how much damage internecine war will do. But how much can you say about a scifi novel that ends with the hero lecturing King Bureaucrat about personal responsibility and the need for a Universal Basic Income to replace welfare entitlements? ***https://toomuchberard.wordpress.com/2...
Well, it's clearly one of Gene Wolfe's earliest works, I think. You can see the amazing, subtle writer he's going to become, but you can also chafe against his rough edges in the telling of this story.Definitely, 'Operation ARES' gives great indication of Wolfe's strategic brilliance, as well as his insight into human psychology. This book feels like a playground for these characteristics, as the main character riddles his way through competing forces, one of whom seems bred to think a dozen moves ahead.At times, however, exploring this proclivity of his can result in stretches of very dry dialogue that... well, I won't speak for anyone else. It lost me. There was one section that I fell asleep during twice. I didn't care about what the characters were doing, and I could not retain the scope of what they were discussing. That may be my failing as a reader—surely other readers more erudite than myself, or more cognizant of the ebb and wane of global politics, will find these patches refreshing.It was a great book, at the end of the day. I'm glad I got to read it (I had to order my copy from England, as it's out of print in the U.S. and no library in my county had a copy) and I valued the insight of the beginning steps of my favorite author.
This is Gene Wolfe's Alan Smithee project; he has disavowed it as being an apprentice work. To my mind however it is still an enjoyable first novel.It features a post apocalyptic storyline where Americans have lost their technology and sunk into a repressive anti-tech regime. However a colony established on Mars begins beaming science info down to the farmers. Finally, animals have also mutated into wild forms making life even more difficult. There are a lot of weaknesses here - mutations appearing without meaning, then various Chinese and Russian machinations over the fight for America with the Martians. Let us say the narrative bogs down.The work does not display Wolfe's later facility for language or his amazing work with doubled characters, repeated dialogues and unreliable narrators. That being said it does move quickly and has some memorable moments but the casual Wolfe reader is probably better off starting later in the canon.
Dystopia of USA brought down by focus on welfare and elimination of science, education and space exploration. Good plot, moves along nicely; basically an if-this-goes-on tale. Memorable characters. Less quality than Wolfe's later work. Lots of background talk instead of showing and letting the reader discover. Hits reader on the head with its points. Readable.
Wolfe's first novel. A bit conventional compared to what was to follow from the author but quite good.