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Shikasta Re: Colonised Planet 5 [Paperback]

Doris Lessing
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
Price: 11.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

23 May 1994 Canopus in Argos: Archives

From Doris Lessing, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, this is the first instalment in the visionary novel cycle ‘Canopus in Argos: Archives’.

The story of the final days of our planet is told through the reports of Johor, an emissary sent from Canopus. Earth, now named Shikasta (the Stricken) by the kindly, paternalistic Canopeans who colonised it many centuries ago, is under the influence of the evil empire of Puttiora. War, famine, disease and environmental disasters ravage the planet. To Johor, mankind is a ‘totally crazed species’, racing towards annihilation: his orders to save humanity set him what seems to be an impossible task.

Blending myth, fable and allegory, Doris Lessing’s astonishing visionary creation both reflects and redefines the history of our own world from its earliest beginnings to an inevitable, tragic self-destruction.


Frequently Bought Together

Shikasta Re: Colonised Planet 5 + The Marriages Between Zones 3, 4 and 5 (Canopus in Argos: Archives) + The Sirian Experiments
Price For All Three: 26.97

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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Flamingo (23 May 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006547192
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006547198
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 228,717 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Doris Lessing, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature 2007, is one of the most celebrated and distinguished writers of recent decades. A Companion of Honour and a Companion of Literature, she has been awarded the David Cohen Memorial Prize for British Literature, Spain's Prince of Asturias Prize, the International Catalunya Award and the S. T. Dupont Golden PEN Award for a
Lifetime's Distinguished Service to Literature, as well as a host of other international awards.
Doris Lessing died on 17 November 2013.

Product Description

Review

‘Magnificent … an astouding book that sets out to chronicle the whole world of humanity, spirit, earth, stars, soul, virtue, evil, pre-Eden forever’ Myrna Blumberg, The Times

‘Profound, relevant and daring’ Rachel Billington, Financial Times

‘Shikasta is a piercing diagnosis of the unease spreading through our civilization. A powerful fable.’ W.L. Webb, Guardian

‘Shikasta is at once a brief history of the world, a tract against human destructiveness, an ode to the natural beauties of this earth and a hymn to the music of the spheres.’ Time

From the Back Cover

'Shikasta' is the first volume in Doris Lessing's celebrated space fiction series, 'Canopus in Argos: Archives'. In this interlinked quintet of novels, she creates a new, extraordinary cosmos where the fate of the Earth is influenced by the rivalries and interactions of three powerful galactic empires, Canopus, Sirius and their enemy, Puttiora. Blending myth, fable and allegory, Doris Lessing's astonishing visionary creation both reflects and redefines the history of our own world from its earliest beginnings to an inevitable, tragic self-destruction.

In 'Shikasta' the story of the final days of our planet is told through the reports of Johor, an emissary sent from Canopus. Twentieth-century Earth, named 'Shikasta, the stricken' by the kindly, paternalistic Canopeans who colonised it many centuries ago, is under the influence of the evil empire, Puttiora. War, famine, disease and environmental disasters ravage the planet. To Johor, mankind is a 'totally crazed species', racing towards annihilation: his orders to save humanity set him what seems to be an impossible task.

"Magnificent…an astounding book that sets out to chronicle the whole world of humanity, spirit, earth, stars, soul, virtue, evil, pre-Eden forever."
MYRNA BLUMBERG, 'The Times'

"Profound, relevant and daring"
RACHEL BILLINGTON, 'Financial Times'

"'Shikasta' is a piercing diagnosis of the unease spreading through our civilisation. A powerful fable."
W.L. WEBB, 'Guardian'

"'Shikasta' is at once a brief history of the world, a tract against human destructiveness, an ode to the natural beauties of this earth and a hymn to the music of the spheres."
TIME


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
44 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An acquired taste 26 Dec 2003
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Lovers of mainstream sci-fi will probably find Shikasta hard going. Many mainstream novels have a vision of the future as being pretty much the same as now, but with better gadgets. In truth, whilst humans will probably always love, lose, fight and seek meaning in their lives, you have to wonder how this will manifest in a thousand years, or a million. Now try to imagine how an alien race would think, given a head start on humanity of a few million years. Here Lessing recounts a spiritual evolution of mankind watched by such an alien race, from our earliest alien-doctored roots until the near future, in which a growing crisis comes to a head. Incarnation is tool for learning and development, and a stricken Earth (the ‘Shikasta’ of the title) is bursting with human souls imprisoned by an astrological accident that has left us at the mercy of our materialism and self-obsession.
Shikasta showed me many things that I had taken for granted were in fact very flimsy in substance. I love in particular the offhand way in which many things we see as important in our civilisation are viewed as trivial – and that we perceive such massive differences amongst our species purely because we have become so highly attuned to spotting those differences. Lessing’s colonial roots may account for the theme of guilt that the Western races are forced to face in this book, but I have to agree with her, and it is handled well. This is no tight, fluid narrative however, and you will find that the journal extracts, letters and reference materials that comprise the book need focus from the reader, but it is worth it.
The spiritual theme does not make it religious as such, so I wouldn’t worry about that if you are a hardened atheist.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a prophetic work of fiction? 23 Feb 2002
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This is a wonderful book, huge in scope..the story of humanity and our struggle with good and evil, the meanining of life and death, and yet it manages to focus on the lives of individuals and their ability to make a difference against
huge odds. T here is something majestic about this story and aquality of imagination and compassion for the human condition that transcends the narrow margins of the science fiction genre. Her dark vision has been overtaken by reality yet this is a book that must be read, if only to help us see the possibilities of a better future.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the saga begins... 23 Nov 2000
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
i haven't read much doris lessing before, but this book stands out as one of the best sci-fi books i have ever read. the story is conceptually original, and lessing manages to unite an insightful view on the human race with a galactic struggle between alien races. look out for the rest of the series...
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Revisiting the theme of 'dating' in Shikasta 19 Jun 2011
Format:Paperback
I think it is unfortunate that as a genre sci-fi is both so narrowly reviewed and in some respects self limiting. For me this was a story that illuminates humanity through the mechanism of alien eyes. The themes of wholeness and mental health which Lessing explores so beautifully in her non sci-fi work such as the Golden Notebook are equally to be found in Shikasta. As someone working in environmental education I find the core of the book painfully relevant to our current 'big questions' as a species; are we able to adapt to find fulfilment in need rather than greed? - can we find a way of harmoniously being in the world? Much as I wish these were issues we had left behind in the 70's, the evidence suggests an increase in crisis not so very far from that within the book. Her thoughts on the importance of architecture to mental wellbeing are remarkable for their prescience and in a global recession we may have pause for thought on the impact of issues such as mass youth unemployment. As to the spiritual aspects of the book, I would refer readers to Lessing's introduction to 'The Sirian Experiments' "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..."

This book left me with an increased sense of wonder, what more can a reader ask for?
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
There have been many excellent reviews of Shikasta in these pages, but I wanted to mention some elements I haven't seen anywhere else.

There are around the world, stone circles of the same type as the famous Stonehenge in England, and these were incredibly erected by prehistoric men whom had no recourse to the technology that builds our own monoliths today. It is one of the great unexplained mysteries of life on earth. Lessing weaves this idea into the first part of the book, using the idea of the stone circles and alignments as being energy receptors from the stars to the Earth. Our 21st century society, with all our extraordinary modernity, has no answer to how or why these stone circles were even assembled. Lessing's idea is beautiful, and thought-provoking.

After this initial fable the main bulk of the book follows George Sherban, an enlightened benevolent alien being, born into a family of doctors working for humanitarian organisations in the global south, as he acquires the ultimate education to help humanity regroup after a nuclear holocaust. The science fiction idea of benevolent aliens being born into human bodies to try and guide us through our difficult times is actually a mirage used by Lessing for religious and spiritual ideas that have a long history.
For instance, is it really so difficult to believe that men such as Gandhi or Jesus Christ were great loving souls who came to Earth to guide us? Lessing points to another fascinating idea, that the cults that arose around the great spiritual leaders of the past have in fact created as much damage to the world as any positive impacts they may initially have had.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Unusual perspective.
The history of the world from the perspective of higher beings. A deep, philosophical tale for those who don't mind thinking a bit harder and be challenged by their reading. Read more
Published 26 days ago by iez
4.0 out of 5 stars Legend of the Fall retold as `Space Fiction' from a Nobel Prize winner
Doris Lessing died in November 2013 aged 94 and holds the record as the oldest writer ever to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature, awarded in 2007 when she was 88. Read more
Published 1 month ago by The Guardian
5.0 out of 5 stars Lessing as Seer & Prophet!
The Nobel Prize winning author Doris Lessing wrote a series of novels that are illuminating insights based on the idea that we here on planet Earth are but one of hundreds of... Read more
Published 17 months ago by S. Ferguson
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Book Ever
A very difficult read, not for the faint hearted, but has to be my favourite book of all time - must be one of the best sci-fi books ever written. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Amazon Customer
2.0 out of 5 stars I tried...
Yes, I tried to read this - 2nd time around (I tried reading it maybe 30 years ago) and couldn't finish it any more now than then. Read more
Published on 8 April 2012 by Roger Cawkwell
5.0 out of 5 stars Key book. Unique, timeless. Literary and cultural landmark
With a haunting sci-fi setting, Shikasta's an extraordinary observation of humanity, our internal and external influences, origins and possible future. Read more
Published on 5 Mar 2012 by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars It's good but it has dated very badly
Shikasta is the first in a quintet of 'space fiction' novels by the highly respected author Doris Lessing who won the Nobel Prize For Literature in 2007, so great credentials... Read more
Published on 24 Feb 2012 by R. A. Davison
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing examination of humanity
This book is the first in the Canopus in Argos series.
The series concerns the influences on the human psyche and the way we interact with each other and react to internal and... Read more
Published on 11 April 2010 by Craig Hall
5.0 out of 5 stars New Territory,superbly charted.
A superb foray by Lessing into the realm of science fiction.The book is a cornucopia of information and insights taking us deep into our shortcomings and our strenghts as humans. Read more
Published on 27 Nov 2009 by Sam I am
3.0 out of 5 stars Ambitious, interesting but incoherent and dated
Shikasta has alot of big ideas. The novel takes in everything from a vision of Eden, several alien civilizations, a retelling of the trial of Socrates and a critique of post-war... Read more
Published on 29 Mar 2009 by David Weatherall
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