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Shikasta Re: Colonised Planet 5 Paperback – 23 May 1994

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Shikasta Re: Colonised Planet 5 + The Marriages Between Zones 3, 4 and 5 (Canopus in Argos: Archives) + The Sirian Experiments
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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: 13 x 2.8 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 212,866 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

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

47 of 47 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 26 Dec. 2003
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 By A Customer on 23 Feb. 2002
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 By A Customer on 23 Nov. 2000
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 By Monkeymansions on 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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By S. Ferguson on 19 Nov. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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 planetary colonies. By the 1970s Lessing was influenced by Sufism and these sci-fi novels reflect her considerable and highly intelligent spiritual wisdom. Lessing's 'Canopus in Argos' series are captivating tales that can open our modern minds to a profound understanding of the deeper meaning of life.

Doris Lessing's first novel in the Canopus in Argo series, 'Re: Colonized Planet 5 - Shikasta' offers her readers crucial insights into our existence here on planet Earth, which is but one of hundreds of the planetary colonies guided by Canopus. Johor is the emissary who writes his reports back to Canopus to be used as instruction for first-year students of Canopean Colonial Rule.

Johor: "I have known more than once what it is to accept the failure, final and irreversible, of an effort or experiment to do with creatures who have within themselves the potential of development dreamed of, planned for ... and then -- Finis! The end!"

We understand that mistakes are made, that there is a certain element of randomness in the universe, which brings about sudden and very destructive catastrophes, or perhaps a blast of radiation from an unknown unexpected source. This is a polarity universe - there are many others - and in such a polarity based structural environment there must be negative forces that of necessity interplay with the positive in order to generate movement and the evolution of forms.
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