In reading Gene Wolfe (really for the first time), I notice that he often writes about agency. Several of his stories feature slavery, such at Fifth Head of Cerberus , How The Whip Came Back , etc. It's a recurring theme in many of the stories. I have also noticed that authority figures often lack agency. Examples are the robotic police officer in Forlesen and the genetically-modified "domesticated" policeman in T he Hero As Werwolf . Even the senior police officer in A Story By John V. Marsh seems to lack real decision-making power. What is Wolfe trying to say with this? Is he commenting that these people are merely the tools of some higher authority? Is he trying to tell us that most (or all) of us lack agency, if even these relatively powerful people do?