Fifth Head of Cerberus (Sf Masterworks 08) by Gene Wolfe

By Gene Wolfe

Faraway from Earth sister planets, Sainte Anne and Sainte Croix, circle one another. it's stated race of shapeshifting extraterrestrial beings as soon as lived the following, simply to turn into extinct while human colonists arrived. yet one guy believes they nonetheless exist, someplace out within the desolate tract. within the 5th Head of Cerberus, Gene Wolfe brilliantly interweaves 3 stories: a scientist's son slow discovery of the unusual mystery of his historical past; a tender man's mythic dreamquest for his darker part; the mystifying chronicle of an anthropologist's seemingly-arbitrary imprisonment. progressively, a mesmerising development emerges.

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Sample text

I mention this detail, which I hardly noticed at the time, because I have so often since my release from prison tried to find some trace of this house. When I was first shown the picture I was much more interested in the girl’s face, and the baby’s. The latter was in fact scarcely visible, he being nearly smothered in white wool blankets. The girl had large features and a brilliant smile which held a suggestion of that rarely seen charm which is at once careless, poetic, and sly. Gypsy, was my first thought, but her complexion was surely too fair for that.

Let me test you, Number Five. ” We had learned that several years before, so I said, “Veil’s Hypothesis supposes the abos to have possessed the ability to mimic mankind perfectly. ” “You mean the Earth people are,” my aunt said. ” “If Veil was correct, then you and I are abos from Sainte Anne, at least in origin; which I suppose is what you meant. ” “I don’t think it makes any difference. ” I thought I was being clever, but my aunt smiled, rocking more vigorously. It was very warm in the close, bright little room.

Whether this was true or not, I cannot say; certainly I believed it, and my father never gave me the least reason to doubt it, though at the time the thought of killing him had never occurred to me. And if these reasons were not sufficiently convincing, anyone with an understanding of the stratum in which he had become perhaps the most permanent feature would realize that for him, who was already forced to give large bribes to the secret police, to once disgorge money in that way would leave him open to a thousand ruinous attacks; and this may have been—this and the fear in which he was held—the real reason we were never stolen.

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