From the Back Cover
Shortlisted for the 1981 Booker Prize, 'The Sirian Experiments' is the third 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.
'The Sirian Experiments' chronicles the origins of our planet, as the three galactic empires fight for control of the human race. The novel charts the gradual moral awakening of its narrator, Ambien II, a 'dry, dutiful, efficient' female Sirian administrator. Witnessing the wanton colonisation of land and people, Ambien begins to question her involvement in such insidious experimentation, her faith in the possibility of human progress itself growing weaker every day.
"The story Ambien tells is a panorama of the possibilities of civilisation and barbarism, ranging from a matriarchal version of Atlantis to the Aztec cult of human sacrifice. Doris Lessing's interests are strictly terrestrial and the figures from outer space are there to serve as tellers of an earthly tale, providing a new, sometimes startling, perspective on earthly affairs and a largeness of vision beyond the horizon of the conventional novel."
ROBERT ALTER, 'New York Times'
"One of our greatest contemporary writers…Doris Lessing had invented a new cosmology to look at the world in a new way: she is attempting to tackle nothing less than all human life on Earth."
About the Author
Doris Lessing is one of the most important writers of the twentieth century and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature 2007. Her first novel, 'The Grass is Singing', was published in 1950. Among her other celebrated novels are 'The Golden Notebook', 'The Fifth Child' and 'Memoirs of a Survivor'. She has also published two volumes of her autobiography, 'Under my Skin' and 'Walking in the Shade'. Her most recent novel is 'Alfred and Emily'.