Thumbs up for The Fifth Head of Cerberus by Gene Wolfe. Science fiction.
One of those books during the reading of which I promise myself I will go in search of analysis to see if I have missed something. In this case, an afterword (by Pamela Sargent) is handily provided, reassuring me that no, I did not miss anything: the ambiguity of The Fifth Head is intentional and not due to my stupidity. If you are the kind of reader who will be disturbed by the fact that you’ll never know what “really” happened, you should skip this. If, however, you are able to accept the ambiguity and wallow happily in the fascinating worldbuilding and dense, beautiful, almost-Victorian prose, you will be rewarded.
And all this time the dead man at the wheel was talking to me. His head hung limply, as though his neck were broken, and the jerkings of the wheel he held, as big waves struck the rudder, sent it from one shoulder to the other, or back to stare at the sky, or down. But he continued to speak, and the few words I caught suggested that he was lecturing upon an ethical theory whose postulates seemed even to him doubtful. I felt a dread of hearing this talk and tried to keep myself as much as possible toward the bow, but the wind at times carried the words to me with great clarity, and whenever I looked up from my work I found myself much nearer the stern sometimes in fact almost touching the dead steersman, than I had supposed.
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