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The Fifth Head of Cerberus: Three Novellas

Wolfe, Gene

4,715 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0684128306 / ISBN 13: 9780684128306
Published by Charles Scribner's Sons
Condition: Very Good Hardcover
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About this Item

0684128306 1972. 244 pages. Inscribed by Wolfe on the title page. Pink boards with silver spine titling, fine. Spine square. Binding sound. Dust jacket covered in archival Mylar, lightly rubbed to spine ends, else fine. Interior bright, unmarked. Bookseller Inventory # BBS-2004676

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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Fifth Head of Cerberus: Three Novellas

Publisher: Charles Scribner's Sons

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Very Good

Dust Jacket Condition: Dust Jacket Included

About this title

Synopsis:

Back in print for the first time in more than a decade, Gene Wolfe's The Fifth Head of Cerberus is a universally acknowledged masterpiece of science fiction by one of the field's most brilliant writers.

Far out from Earth, two sister planets, Saint Anne and Saint Croix, circle each other in an eternal dance. It is said a race of shapeshifters once lived here, only to perish when men came. But one man believes they can still be found, somewhere in the back of the beyond.

In The Fifth Head of Cerberus, Wolfe skillfully interweaves three bizarre tales to create a mesmerizing pattern: the harrowing account of the son of a mad genius who discovers his hideous heritage; a young man's mythic dreamquest for his darker half; the bizarre chronicle of a scientists' nightmarish imprisonment. Like an intricate, braided knot, the pattern at last unfolds to reveal astonishing truths about this strange and savage alien landscape.

Review:

A brothel keeper's sons discuss genocide and plot murder; a young alien wanderer is pursued by his shadow double; and a political prisoner tries to prove his identity, not least to himself. Gene Wolfe's first novel consists of three linked sections, all of them elegant broodings on identity, sameness, and strangeness, and all of them set on the vividly evoked colony worlds of Ste. Croix and Ste. Anne, twin planets delicately poised in mutual orbit.

Marsch, the victim in the third story, is the apparent author of the second and a casual visitor whose naïve questions precipitate tragedy in the first. The sections dance around one another like the planets of their settings. Clones, downloaded personalities inhabiting robots, aliens that perhaps mimicked humans so successfully that they forgot who they were, a French culture adopted by its ruthless oppressors--there are lots of ways to lose yourself, and perhaps the worst is to think that freedom consists of owning other people, that identity is won at the expense of others.

It is easy to be impressed by the intellectual games of Wolfe's stunning book and forget that he is, and always has been, the most intensely moral of SF writers. --Roz Kaveney, Amazon.co.uk

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