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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"Gene Wolfe is unique. If there were forty or fifty of this first-rate author--no, let's be reasonable and ask Higher Authorities for only four or five--American literature as a whole would be enormously enriched." --"Chicago Sun-Times" "One of the major fictional works of the decade...Wolfe's novel, with its elusiveness and its beauty, haunts one long after reading it." --Pamela Sargent "A richly imaginative exploration of the nature of identity and individuality." --Malcolm Edwards, "The Science Fiction Encyclopedia" "SF for the thinking reader..The style is highly literate and the ideas sophisticated and handled with sensitivity." --"Amazing SF" "One of the 100 best science fiction novels...A truly extraordinary work. One of the most cunningly wrought narratives in the whole of modern SF, a masterpiece of misdirection, subtle clues, and apparently casual revelations." --David Pringle
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