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Reading Operation Ares is a weird experience, and although weird is the word which is almost always assosciated with Wolfe, but the book just leaves you unsatisfied with its ending.Now you may assosciate many words with Wolfe s writing, but never the word unsatisfied, but considering that this was his first novel and the text was cut by 20%, you can give benefit of doubt to Wolfe.Regarding the strong and weak points of the book, the strong points for me where1 Dystopian future.2 Interesting ideas.regarding the weak points1 Acute case of deus ex machina syndrome.2 Unresolved storylines.3 Wolfe taking sides.Let me elaborate on the above points now,1 Dystopian future.The story basically takes place where in United States has over thrown the constitutional government and the bureacrats have assumed all the power of state.Also most of the scientists and engineers have taken refuge on Mars, that s why people living in States have completely forgotten how to use technology, they are living their life just like in dark ages.People are completely dependent on government for everything from jobs to food, that s why government has started running social programs by which people are able to sustain their day to day life Wolfe really paints a bleak picture for the future.2 Interesting ideas.The world which we get in the book is really intrestring due to the fact that people have forgotten how to use normal technology like radios or television, and these assets have become property of elite.Another idea is that of States taking help of Soviet Russia to survive by importing engineers and doctors from them.Regarding the weak points of the book1 Acute case of deus ex machina syndrome.Most of the story in the novel centers around our protogonist John Castle, now this guy we are told had done science major, and he teaches students in university with all the basic subjects like electronics physics chemistry.But he is shown to be far than that in this novel, he s like the answer to all the questions in this book.2 Unresolved storylines.As is always the case with any Wolfe novel, there are many parallel stories going on with the main story, but not all of them are resolved at the end.You are left with many questions, but I don t think this time you will be able to find answers for them in text.3 Wolfe taking sides. I always find Wolfe s stories to be empathetic, and rarely does he potray a purely evil or purely good person, his characters are always grey and complicated, and that s what make them lifelike and likeable, because nothing is straight in life.But Wolfe clearly takes sides in this book, he potrays how following one idealogy has completed ruined States, and that was a kind of shock to me from this book.Definitely a a book to forget about I give this 3 5 stars. Gene Wolfe s first published novel is unfortunately a slow, dull slog It never really gets any momentum going, instead just jumping from one situation to another, often without a feel of meaningful resolution None of this is really a surprise, as we know that both that a witless editor utterly gutted the novel, dropping it from 100k to 60k words, and that Gene Wolfe long disowned the novel Whether the poor quality of the book is due to the fact that it was a first novel or the fact that the editor ripped it apart to its obvious deficit, we ll probably never know With all of that said, Operation Ares is indeed, intriguingly a Gene Wolfe novel I don t think any fan could pick it up without immediately recognizing the writing style The way that the characters talk, act, and react is precisely what you d find in any later book, down to their constant speculations about what other people are thinking and doing and why and their constant beliefs that everyone else is thinking the worst of them Even the rather deconstructive look at a martian invasion and the use of marauding wolves on the cover of the Berkley edition speak to the obsessions found in later Wolfe books.So, hard book to read, but interesting for fans of the late, great author. Not Wolfe s best, by a long way I can see why he buried it Still, enjoyable than its reputation had led me to believe.It s a future American dystopia rooted in a highly implausible set of political concerns that I guess troubled conservatives in the 1960s The dictatorship was instituted by welfare state bureaucrats who seem to genuinely want to give everyone money so they won t work, which has led, obviously, to the collapse of the economy and a massive reduction in quality of life The essential problem with the welfare state is that it bribes people not to work The author s solution and there s little doubt that the political views of certain characters match the author s own at the time is view spoiler universal basic income This will keep alive the millions who ve been made incurably idle by the welfare state, but also won t disincentivise anyone from getting a job I had heard and been surprised that Nixon tried to institute UBI in the 1960s, but it makes a little sense as a conservative viewpoint after reading this hide spoiler Wolfe s first novel was famously butchered by his editor, the original manuscript was cut down from 100,000 words to just a shade over 60,000 Wolfe subsequently disowned the book, and has refused to sign contracts to republish it Thus, you cannot find an ebook the only way to read it is find a 50 year old paperback copy in a used bookstore, or purchase it for exorbitant prices online Adding salt to the wound is that, according to Wolfe, the original manuscript was lost, so we will never get his full vision Shame.So that s a meandering way of getting around to saying that this is not a good book However there is some bits of interest here for Wolfe fans The first quarter of the novel, which Wolfe had editorial control over, is quite well paced There is a lot of care put into providing light sketches of what a dystopian america might look like A highlight would be the protagonist s chess matches with a Peaceguard Captain, who is amused enough by the main character that he wagers information in exchange for a fair game Fans of Wolfe s overtly Catholic works will also be interested in a long digression with a religion with strong parallels to Mithraism.On the negative side is the overt statement of political ideology throughout the novel, which is unusual since Wolfe s most famous novels have almost nothing to do with politics If I had to pin point the political leaning of Operation Ares, I would lean towards National Review mid 60s conservatism The novel is very concerned about the welfare state in particular, and views receiving a welfare check as bribing the electorate, which destroys both family and community, because meaning doesn t come from material gain The novel does present a solution to this, in the form of universal basic income, which is something our society is debating today There are other conservative ideas that emerge, like the government funding of NASA seriously that are brought up but never given any space to develop Whether this is from the editor cutting ruthlessly or Wolfe himself is impossible to say The end result is that it is just boring All in all, this is not a book I d recommend to anyone other than die hard Gene Wolfe fans who have already read his other novels, and are curious at what a young Wolfe was thinking about at the time If you re browsing this review out of curiosity and are new to Wolfe in general, feel free in knowing that you can start with Fifth Head of Cerebus without missing much of anything Or just do what most do and read his masterful Book of the New Sun. 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 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 to kill during an appointment. It is said that every golfer has 100,000 bad shots in them with experience and practice one can get those bad shots out of their system.I guess that the same same can be said of writers Operation Ares was circa 1965 Gene Wolfe getting those 100,000 words out.But isn t this dystopic revolution novel only 60K words Actually, Wolfe submitted a 100K manuscript The publisher wanted it down to 60K and ham handedly cut whole paragraphs to get to that point.And it shows there are sudden POV jumps, unexplained narrative shifts and an overall impression that there is too much plot in too little space.Despite all this, there are moments that really shine through you can actually see Wolfe honing his chops For the Wolfe fan, it is a worthwhile read, if only to appreciate motifs that appear in later, polished works Good luck finding a copy There is no e book edition and the used copies are rather pricey.Pairs well with The Long Tomorrow and Arslan. 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 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 *Free ☄ Operation Ares ⇳ The Invasion From Mars Came In The Early Years Of The St Century And All Over America People Were Praying For It To Succeed For 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 Grimd Killer Packs Of Wild Animals Prowled At Night, Making Curfews A Vital Need 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 erudite than myself, or 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 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.