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Sirius (Gollancz Collectors' Editions) [Paperback]

Olaf Stapledon
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Book Description

24 Aug 2000 Gollancz Collectors' Editions
Sirius is Thomas Trelone¿s great experiment - a huge, handsome dog with the brain and intelligence of a human being. Raised and educated in Trelone¿s own family alongside Plaxy, his youngest daughter, Sirius is a truly remarkable and gifted creature. His relationship with the Trelones, particularly with Plaxy, is deep and close, and his inquiring mind ranges across the spectrum of human knowledge and experience. But Sirius isn¿t human and the conflicts and inner turmoil that torture him cannot be resolved.

Product details

  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz; New edition edition (24 Aug 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575070579
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575070578
  • Product Dimensions: 21.2 x 13.6 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,978,978 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Sirius is a somewhat poignant journey, incalculably emotive and immeasurably introspective, a true masterpiece of literary (science) fiction. (SFBOOK.COM) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

¿The most human of all Stapledon¿s novels¿ Brian W. Aldiss

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Forgotten One 22 Sep 2010
By Dave_42
Olaf Stapledon, is undoubtedly best known for his amazing novels "Star Maker" and "Last and First Men", but if that is all you have read from him then you have missed out on his writings which are in a more traditional style. "Sirius: A Fantasy of Love and Discord", published in 1944, is an excellent book as well, though not on the same scale as those earlier works. It is the story of a "super sheepdog" (Sirius), who was biologically engineered with hormones, and raised along with the daughter (Plaxy) of the scientist (Thomas Trelone). It is a tragic story, in which Sirius struggles between the worlds of his human family and his canine instinct. A unique bond is formed between Plaxy and Sirius that shapes both of their lives.

"Sirius" can stand alone, or be considered part of Stapledon's vast future universe as outlined in his other works. The story is simply on a much smaller scale, and so would not in and of itself be a noteworthy event in books like "Last and First Men" or "Star Maker". Thomas Trelone is Stapledon's Frankenstein, though certainly he does not suffer from the same character flaws as Shelly's famous predecessor. At the same time, Trelone admits that he failed to consider all of the consequences of his experiment, which led to a very lonely and torn character in Sirius. Sirius cannot fit in with humans for many reasons, though Sirius himself focuses on the lack of hands. Sirius also doesn't fit with other canines, as he finds them too simple and only interesting when a female is in heat.

This book was tied for 9th on the Arkham Survey in 1949 as one of the `Basic SF Titles', which was a higher rank than "Star Maker" (tied for 13th) received.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not "Disney" 2 Sep 2003
By A Customer
A story about a superintelligent talking dog? It sounds terrible, like something out of a twee Disney film, but in actual fact Stapledon manages to avoid anything like that, and has written an incredible, touching story. It reminds me of "Call of the Wild" and "White Fang", and doesn't avoid the dark side of Sirius' nature... there are a couple of particularly savage passages where Sirius kills a sadistic farmer, and also "murders" a horse just to indulge his canine instincts.
Sirius ends up seeing the full range of human life, from bad to good, and more. He is also not a true dog, and finds himself not only alienated from human beings who cannot accept him fully (with a handful of exceptions), but other dogs who are like cretins to him especially his "lovers" (as the book puts it). Despite having difficulty speaking and writing (he devises ways to get around that), Sirius has an advantage over other dogs through his intelligence, and over humans in his hearing, sense of smell etc. What we get is not only a satire on English life during WWII, but an almost autistic view of the world, seeing everything but not able to integrate oneself into it.
Of course some of the writing is dated, and Stapledon at times takes a very colonial view of the Welsh and their language (Sirius is originally brought up on a Welsh farm by English academics). Some of the style is very dry and typical of the period (for example when Sirius spots a holy roller farmboy pleasuring himself, Stapledon calls it "something unspeakable". Fortunately Victorian hangovers like these are not common).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Once bitten, smitten. 28 May 2011
By Peeper
I got this after reading a review of Stapledon's work by the eminent scientist Freeman Dyson (in a collection of essays and reviews called The Scientist as Rebel), himself a writer of science fiction too. Dyson considers Sirius to be Stapledon's greatest work. It is certainly a profound and affecting one. The tragic hero of the piece is a superintelligent dog, capable of thought and speech. The creature is torn between his 'civilised' and his 'wild' sides, and moves between a human world where he is in part understood and a human world where he is persecuted,as well as the wilderness. In this way, the novel harks back to the gothic tradition of Mary Shelley and Louis Stevenson. No doubt there are echoes of Jack London's fiction too. So the book is as much about human nature as about the ethical dilemmas around genetically modifying animals. Unfortunately, fiction in print and on the screen about talking animals from the second half of the twentieth century onward make sections of the novel at first uninentionally amusing. It is worth repressing the impulse to smirk. You will find yourself feeling and thinking deeply well before the climax of this fine book. Thanks, Freeman Dyson, for drawing the attention of a new generation of readers to this writer of philosophical fiction.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stranger in a Strange Land! 1 Oct 2001
By A Customer
More like a conventional novel than either Last and First Men or Star Maker, this deals with some typical Stapledon themes: alien intelligence or spirit, the quasi symbiosis of different species, the age old question of the purpose of existence. It's an interesting study of a creature's relationship with his creator, his difficulties in dealing with his own uniqueness, and with the fact that his own needs do not always coincide with those of the dominant human species. It raises a number of questions about the type of things which might differ between two species of equal intelligence, and how this might cause conflict between them. Well worth reading!
(I didn't find his style to be a problem; it's just different from what we're used to nowadays.)
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars An absolute classic
This was a favourite title from my teenage years (1960's) and I purchased it to see whether it gave the same feelings of wonder and tragedy that I encountered then ... it does! Read more
Published 22 days ago by JW
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant
A graphically sensitive and meaningful exploration into the tragedy of being human,viewed from an external, non human, perspective . Read more
Published 1 month ago by B Smith
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought-Provoking and Moving
My first Stapledon but definitely not my last, Sirius is a thoroughly engaging read. The plight of Sirius - neither dog nor man - is handled brilliantly by Stapledon. Read more
Published 4 months ago by P. Borrington
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolute Classic
This lyrical story was published the year before I was born and I got to read it 12 years later - age 11. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars Wolf-Dog-Man-thing
Thomas Trelone is a scientist, living with his family in North Wales, following his scientific interests in the cortical growth in the brains of mammals. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Eileen Shaw
5.0 out of 5 stars absolutely brilliant
I got this book after hearing about it on Radio 4, it is magnificent. Olaf writes in a fabulous way and his understanding of the relationship between Sirius and the humans he... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Richard Wandsworth
5.0 out of 5 stars Best of the best
Read this very quickly, as it's very engaging, and very poignant, in the sense that any family on earth could have lived with an intelligent dog, and be devastated by the wanton... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars A superintelligent dog? BLASPHEMY. But a cracking good read.
Slightly dated in tone (references to a trustworthy member of the clergy?), but timeless in its lyrical and poetic explorations of self and purpose. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Ann O'Nymus
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is a real masterpiece
It is hard to go wrong with the sci fi masterworks series but I think this is one of the series which out stripped the rest in terms of enjoyment for me. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Lark
2.0 out of 5 stars Glad I Finally Read It But Disappointing
I'd read many reviews of this book over the years and was anticipating a great read. I find it hard to pin down what I disn't like. I think it just might be I'm not a dog person. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Mr. N. J. Keighley
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