Once upon a time, when I was young, I believed things easily, both religious and political; now I believe less and less. But I wonder about more

Doris Lessing in the Preface to The Sirian Experiments (1981)

Read and listen

Canopus in Argos Archives

Re: Colonised planet 5
Personal, psychological, historical documents relating to visit by
JOHOR (George Sherban)
Emissary (grade 9)
87th of the period of the last days

Other titles in the series:

The Marriages Between Zones Three, Four and Five (1980)
The Sirian Experiments (1980)
The Making of the Representative for Planet 8 (1982)
Documents Relating to the Sentimental Agents in the Volyen Empire (1983)

And what happened next?
Read, if you dare, Mara and Dann (1999) and The Story of General Dann and Mara's Daughter, Griot and the Snow Dog (2005).

Find out more

Swedish Academy
Biobibliographical notes

On not winning the Nobel prize
Doris Lessing's Nobel Lecture
December 7, 2007

Hard Rain    No 33    December 10, 2007
Re: Nobel laureate Lessing - on the planet Shikasta
The Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to Doris Lessing - at last! For the editors of Hard Rain it comes natural to make a specific pick from the impressive list of Lessing favourites.
The Swedish Academy finally did it. Awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature to Doris Lessing. What can you say? To be kind: Better late than too late.

Lessings name has been on the lists for decades, but there seems to have been some kind of blockage among the distinguished members of the Academy. Now it is time to rejoice as a favourite of bookworms in every corner of the world apparently gained more than half of the votes cast.

For the editors of Hard Rain it comes natural to make a specific pick from the impressive list of Lessing favourites. The visionary novel cycle Canopus in Argos: Archives (vol. 15, 19791984) stands out as a centrepiece in Doris Lessings voluminous production.

Shikasta comes first. This astounding novel gives us a view of Earth, as seen from another civilization or planet named Canopus, who once colonized it and introduced civilization. The civilization on Shikasta was peaceful and life energy was connecting the minds of the inhabitants of Shikasta to Canopus in Argos.

  A cosmic accident of some kind leads to the breakdown of the harmony of Shikastan civilization. Canopus therefore starts sending agents to Shikasta, to help ease the pain caused by this situation.

The book ends with re-establishment of the energy flows from Shikasta to Canopus and the fall of the barbarian (that is, contemporary, 20th/21st century) civilization due to nuclear war on Shikasta.

In the preface to "The Sirian Experiments" the author hopes that reviewers and readers could see the series Canopus in Argos: Archives as a framework that enables her to tell a beguiling tale or two; to put questions, both to myself and to others; to explore ideas and sociological possibilities.

What she does accomplish is the most razor sharp account of the development of our earth by the end of the 20th century. Remember it was all written around 1980, which makes it even more fascinating to read in the early 21st century.