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on 27 June 2016
I could not get into this book. I know it is science fiction but I found it depressing and pointless. I gave up after about 60 pages.
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on 24 May 1999
This book is neither a novella or novel; rather it is an intricate puzzle in the form of a book. Who are the abos? The shoadw children? And are the hill men either of these, or something different? Like many of Wolfe's books, this is one that doesn't get boring or repetetive in time, it gets more and more fascinating. Each time you read it, you find a new piece to the puzzle.
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on 4 March 2002
this book is nothing that i expected it to be. it blew me away. the three novellas connect to hint at a story that is not there. my favorite is the last one: a disconnected and non-linear tale surrounding the notes of an anthropologist where everything is not as it seems.
an absolutely wonderful book. but be prepared: it is not an easy read.
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on 29 August 1998
This set of 3 novellas that actually should be considered a novel is an intricate work that one can easily be submerged in. From the story of Number Five in the opening novella up to the search for the abos in the last, this masterwork of Gene Wolfe is characterized by a fascinating sense of uncertainty in his search for the meaning of what it is to be human.
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on 15 July 1998
This book is just another example of Gene Wolfe's prowess at taking the human soul, converting it into alphabetica, and then deciphering the jumble of letters until they spell out the very thing that contrived them. This book leaves you feeling like that. You need to read it more then once. The best thing is, you'll want to.
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on 20 December 2000
When I got hold of this book, I had already read the New Sun books by Wolfe which I absolutely adored, especially because they deserve the characterization "literature" far more than most science fiction books. However even reading the Fifth Head of Cerberus to the end was a straggle ! The book has an undouptable "intellectual" quality but lives the reader completely lost. It gave me the impression the author himself wasn't quite sure about what the book was supposed to be about ! If you have never read Wolfe before, don't start with this one or you might get the wrong idea and miss some great books.
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on 19 March 2002
As you can probably ascertain from other reviews on this site, this book isn't for everyone. I personally found the three vaguely interconnected stories uninteresting and ultimately pointless. It's OK to be ambiguous but this book goes out of its way to be deliberately confusing. It was one of the first SF books I read and if it hadn't been for a few other authors (Philip K Dick & Joe Haldeman among them) I would probably have given up on the SF genre. The internet is full of sites praising and analysing this work so I presume I'm in the minority, but this is one of the very few books I consider to have been a complete waste of time reading
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on 20 May 1999
I decided to read these book because of the positive reviews I had read on Amazon.Sincerely,I couldn't understand the book's meaning at all. I didn't rate 1 only because of Wolfe's good way of writing.
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on 3 August 2000
I have to admit that I was a bit lost on this one. The SF masterworks series has produced some classics and this, to me, is not one of them. Make you own decision.
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on 8 May 2000
This book really lost me. None of the three stories are particularly interesting, and not enough is done to draw the common themes together by the end of the novel. What was the point ?
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