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Canopus In Argos: Archives
Re: Colonised Planet 5


Year First Published: 1979
First Published by:Alfred A. Knopf
This Edition:American first edition

From the book jacket:

"With her most recent fiction, Briefing for a Descent into Hell, The Memoirs of a Survivor, and the latter part of The Four-Gated City, Doris Lessing stepped forward into the fabulous, the marvelous, but it is in this new novel that she makes her true break with traditional realism. Here she begins a series of novels, Canopus in Argos: Archives, set in some future time; novels transcending realism altogether, yet reinstating it within a space-age setting. She has created what she calls "a new world for myself," self-consistent and with infinite possibilities, "a realm where the petty fates of planets, let alone individuals, are only aspects of the rivalries and interactions of the greater galactic empires: Canopus, Sirius, and their enemy, the Empire Puttoria with its criminal planet Shammat."

The first novel, Re: Colonised Planet 5, Shikasta, encompasses millions of years of Earth's evolution and uses several contrasting styles and manners to do it, from the manic stupidities of "the Devil," to the lofty ruminations of "the Gods," but Lessing is also able to write the simple and sorrowful story of a single teen-age girl, whirled out of her little limitations by the world's cataclysms.

This book is completely different from anything she has written before. The second novel in the series (to be published shortly) - The Marriages Between Zones Three, Four and Five - is again different, resembling a fable, a legend of the simplest and even the most classic sort. The third novel in the sequence, The Sirian Experiments, makes the most radical departure. It is told in the voice of a female official of the Empire of Sirius, a bureaucrat by nature and by thousands of years of experience, whose personal odyssey carries her into a new understanding of cosmic evolution.

Doris Lessing, at a point in her career when many writers are content to recast earlier themes, has simply put her past behind her and taken the risk of going on to an entirely new beginning. However this attempt will be judged, one thing is clear the cycle of novels beginning with Shikasta will reveal her largest vision of our world and our time."

This is book 1 in the series Canopus in Argos: Archives

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