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 But one man believes they still exist, somewhere out in the wilderness In The Fifth Head of Cerberus, Gene Wolfe brilliantly interweaves three tales a scientist s son graduFar 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 But one man believes they still exist, somewhere out in the wilderness In The Fifth Head of Cerberus, Gene Wolfe brilliantly interweaves three tales a scientist s son gradual discovery of the bizarre secret of his heritage a young man s mythic dreamquest for his darker half the mystifying chronicle of an anthropologist s seemingly arbitrary imprisonment Gradually, a mesmerising pattern emerges.
The Fifth Head Of Cerberus 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 B
Oh Gene Wolfe why can t I quit you Constantly frustrated by your boring viewpoint characters your secondary ones tend to be so much interesting , your constant practice of leaving out the good bits of the story only to refer to them, if at all, obliquely and second hand later , and your monomaniacal need to make every story a goddamn puzzle But I keep coming back for ep hoping this time it will be different and I ll get the full experience, be completely immersed, not just find a few excellent [...]
The Fifth Head of Cerberus Three novellas about identity, memory, and colonizationOriginally posted at Fantasy LiteratureI don t think I m the only reader drawn to Gene Wolfe s books hoping to understand all the symbolism, subtleties, oblique details, unreliable narrators, and offstage events and finding myself frustrated and confused, feeling like it s my lack of sophistication and careful reading ability to blame Wolfe is most famous for his amazing 4 volume THE BOOK OF THE NEW SUN dying earth [...]
For every reader that believes Wolfe allusions are well wrought and indicative of a greater back story and that there is a palimpsest to get to the bottom of, there are others who insist that the surface story, with all its mysteries and contradictions, is all that there is atmosphere over form The second group has forgotten something Gene Wolfe is that rarest of men a spiritually inclined engineer with a love both of literature, mystery novels, and pulp science fiction not to mention that he is [...]
I feel a failure now that I ve finished The Fifth Head of Cerberus It is good Very good I see that But I can only muster mild like for the thing, and I feel as though I must have missed something along the way in my insomnia reading haze And I can t really see myself going back to redress the situation because I just don t feel connected to Gene Wolfe s work.I read what Ursula K LeGuin says about the book,A subtle, ingenious, poetic and picturesque book the uncertaintly principle embodied in bri [...]
update reread in 2017 and this time I m going right back to the beginning again for another, immediate reread I ll probably babble about it on my blog again soon, too Below is my original review from 2012 I have definitely joined the camp of those who consider The Fifth Head of Cerberus to be set in the same universe as Book of the New Sun Long Sun Short Sun Indeed, the predicament in which Urth finds itself in BotNS now feels like the wages of the sins committed in the establishment of the soci [...]
Read this for a group read the first time I ve managed to get myself organised to do that in a long time I have a backlog as long as my arm of books that were picked for discussion in that group And they always pick interesting ones.This was my first Gene Wolfe book, so I wasn t entirely sure what to expect I don t know whether my brain just doesn t work in quite the right way to fully get the story, or if everyone else is equally at sea I kind of want to nod wisely and pretend I followed every [...]
Gene Wolfe is difficult to praise highly enough without sounding unconvincing One can urge people to read his work, claim that he s one of the greatest living writers in the English language regardless of genre indeed, perhaps the greatest , one can ramble on about his virtues for hours to friends and strangers, and in the end, to those who have not read him, the claims start to sound unhinged, even deranged Aren t you overselling him just a tad they inevitably ask To this I can only say read so [...]
Copied from my Blog reviewSynopsisThe novel is a cycle of stories, consisting of three novellas which share two common planets Sainte Croix and twin planet Sainte Anne , a common character John V Marsch, and common topics about identity, humanity, and memory.The Fifth Head of CerberusThe first novella is a coming of age story with a narrator called Number Five written from a first person point of view He looks back at his youth on planet Sainte Croix, the murder of his father and his way to free [...]
I hadn t read Gene Wolfe before, though I d read of him and had seen pictures of his enormous moustache I actually thought he was dead, thanks to a recent Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction tribute issue I read this on the recommendation of Jay Lake, who had read my review of Samuel R Delany s Einstein Intersection and commented that Wolfe s The Fifth Head of Cerberus said many of the same things The three novellas comprising The Fifth Head of Cerberus form one of the finest examples of pos [...]
There s a preoccupation with doubling and shifting identity in The Fifth Head of Cerberus that brought Jan Potocki s The Manuscript Found in Saragossa to mind, though the two books are otherwise quite dissimilar There s none of Potocki s fascination with the occult here, and, as another reviewer aptly observed, Wolfe s concerns are in fact political domination, conquest, identity, hybridity The two books differ as well in their shape and topology While Manuscript is constructed as a series of ne [...]
I ve learned that when reading Wolfe, one should expect an oblique story, a narrative that makes little sense on the surface, who s meaning must be gleaned by penetrating the layers of the story, picking up on cryptic clues and piecing it altogether upon reflection after finishing the book This is no exception.One of the themes at the center of this story is identity What it is that makes us different when we are physically the same and how can we tell the difference between the real thing and a [...]
I found the first story very good, but a little boring and not very credible in the mix of 19th century future in the New Sun series there are good reasons to make that believable, but here they are not The second story is utterly uninteresting and unreadable the third just very boring.I love GW in his Sun series, but this book was a big let down for me.
What a book The first 2 stories are intriguing but leave many things open The last story reveals a good deal of the background and provides the missing pieces Not all of course or it wouldn t be a Gene Wolfe book A second read is definitely required to understand what lies under the surface and to solve the puzzles This is a book that can be read multiple times.The main topics are very interesting I liked the startling world with its weird natives, the violent history and a society that allows s [...]
The stories address identity, self identity, and the assumption or appropriation of identity, in a spiraling, fractal path, each one bouncing off the other in unexpected and exhilarating ways In particular, A Story , by John V Marsch can be considered an exploration of identity in itself, but its meaning blooms when paired with the third, V.R.T providing hints to events in that story.The final profundity is the framing story of V.R.T where John Marsch s case file and documents disordered by care [...]
Three linked novellas set on the sister planets of Sainte Anne and Sainte Croix, each with a different tone and focus but a common question what really happened to Sainte Anne s aboriginal inhabitants Each made me want to go back and reread the previous for clues that I had missed The intricate balance of the three is fantastic This is a hard one to discuss without spoiling it, so I m not going to say much.
This is maybe the most Wolfean Wolfe novel I ve yet encountered, while also having almost nothing in common with the other books I ve read by Wolfe.It s intensely slippery and treads water in a number of genres and styles, doing each one better than just about anyone When his prose is highly stylised and dense, it s satisfying than just about any writer And then the whole thing is so postmodern, but in ways satisfying than maybe anyone or anything outside of John Fowles The Magus Each novella [...]
More like a channelled work than a structured effort, the sort of sophistry produced after poor choices in moustachery followed by ingesting sour crab cakes and having your nap interrupted by the inevitable gas I believe the Cantonese character expresses it best as, little crab cake gas dreams I once believed I possessed complex tastes in stories After a few years on , I ve realized I have very simple tastes that are rarely satisfied Wanted like able main character who goes on a compressed adven [...]
The greatest study on identity or the loss of it
There have been quite a lot of reviews of this book on , so I think I ll make mine brief.This was a brilliantly written book in which three novellas one a gothic horror novella about cloning, another a dreamscape fantasy novella of an alien world, the third being an almost Kafkaesque story of totalitarian imprisonment and suffering interconnect This is pure literary science fiction, in which the plot is not the point, but the theme, and that theme is Colonialism, racism, and institutionalized Co [...]
read this review at my blog In The Fifth Head of Cerberus 1972 , a poor colony world is haunted by rumors of a vanished aboriginal race The status of the natives forms a thematic link between the three novellas in the volume, and is framed by this anthropological theory, mentioned in the first story Veil s Hypothesis supposes the abos to have possessed the ability to mimic mankind perfectly Veil thought that when the ships came from Earth the abos killed everyone and took their places and the sh [...]
3 linked novellas in a famous book published 40 years ago the first one which gives the title is excellent and deserves all the accolades on a strange world, a strange boy recounts his experiences from childhood and as we slowly tease what s what we realize how much this novella packs in the dated aspects eg the French in space are not jarring though one is aware of them in the backgroundhowever the 2nd and 3rd novellas are much weaker the second is a nature people story and I never found such c [...]
Do not read the introduction It s spoilery and full of wrong.Yes, this book is a mindfuck It s at times intriguing, surprising, funny, shocking or boring It s not pulp PKD for instance draws you into his pageturners In contrast, the three stories of this book were a difficult read for me Unlike other readers, I found the first part to be the least engaging by the way.It s not so much that I had trouble making out the main puzzle to which the narrative returns time and again I may have missed muc [...]
I quite liked this book Actually, it is a collection of three shorter stories with a single unifying theme, and that is what makes it a book I liked the first story, struggled to get the second story, and then really liked the third story I am glad that I went all the way through the second story because much of it is explained in the third story It is like something out of focus which suddenly comes into focus.Gene Wolfe has a very fine narrative style He manages to make the stories interesting [...]
3 novellas and one book 3 stories in one universe 3 worlds one species or is there Ok that last one was a little contrived.The new world phenomena of our past seems to be repeated in the exploration and settlement of two new inhabitable worlds, that are closer to earth than you may think.The new settlers have a different philosophy and a liking of genetic manipulation.However, they have been there awhile when our story begins The original occupants seem to have been all but forgotten or regulate [...]
This was my first Gene Wolfe My impression is that he is a skilled and talented writer The Fifth Head of Cereberus is three stories that take place on the twin planets of Sainte Croix and Sainte Anne The first story is almost Victorian, elegant prose but not at all stilted It has almost a flavor, just the slightest taste, of steampunk.The recurring character plays only a minor role in the first story He doesn t appear in the second story at all, rather, he is its author It is a dreamtime fable, [...]
Three interconnected novellas about identity and the rumors of aboriginal life on a pair of twin planets colonized by humans I loved the first and last ones, though really disliked the middle one, hence only three stars After the last novella, the middle one makes a lot sense and is interesting in context, but that didn t help when I was struggling through it The worldbuilding was good and interesting the way the society is revealed to the reader is particularly good in the first novella , and [...]
Sin duda, un libro diferente Tres historias independientes, aunque conectadas, que van dando pinceladas sobre los misterios de Saint Anne y Saint Croix, los planetas gemelos En ocasiones cuesta seguir el hilo de la trama, porque est retorcida intencionadamente, con multitud de peque os saltos.Me han encantado tanto la narrativa y el mundo que ha creado como la elegancia con la que lo va presentando La mayor pega que le veo es que, en mi opini n, de las tres historias que tiene el libro, s lo la [...]
Describing this book as tangling would be a mistake the three stories interweave with such precision that you can t help but marvel at Wolfe s intellect.There is not much to say about this book It is yet another outstanding work by Gene Wolfe, and anyone with a taste for science fiction and good literature should give it a try.
Great, if somewhat inscrutable, collection of three loosely related novellas The Fifth Head of Cerberus is the primordial version of Dan Simmons Hyperion, slightly literary and slightly less robust It s a masterwork of theme and tone, and as with all such works, it has the potential to disappoint Avoid if you require cohesive storylines with strong resolutions.
I have to read this again to make better sense of it.As Neil Gaiman commented, Reading Gene Wolfe is dangerous work It s a knife throwing act, and like all good knife throwing acts, you may lose fingers, toes, earlobes or eyes in the process Eek