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The Fifth Head of Cerberus (original 1972; edition 1975)
by Gene Wolfe
The Fifth Head of Cerberus by Gene Wolfe (1972)
Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0312890206, Paperback)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
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:33 -0400)
Far from Earth two sister planets, Sainte Anne and Sainte Croix, circle each other. It is said that a race of shapeshifting aliens once lived here, only to become extinct when human colonists arrived.
(summary from another edition)
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