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The Sirian Experiments (Canopus in Argos #3)
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The Sirian Experiments (Canopus in Argos #3)

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  506 ratings  ·  26 reviews
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 interlnked 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 t ...more
Paperback, 331 pages
Published May 1st 1994 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published 1980)
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Judy Ross
spectacular book. lessing has an amazing way of thinking, and reading this book is like listening to her think. it's fiction, it's a memoir, its about space, but it is not in any conventional sense a novel and that seems to put some people off. but i've read it twice now (over a 10-year interval) and been stunned both times by what it does to me as I read.
I couldn't bring myself to start this review. In the meantime I have read books four and five of the Canopus cycle as well. Therefore, I can ultimately state that The Sirian Experiments is among the three good books from this series, the other two being book 1 and book 5.

The Sirian Experiments take up what book 1 began. While Marriages (book 2) left the macro interplanetary / -cultural level, we are now back to an eagle's perspective. Only this time, we see the universe not from the all-knowing
Mikael Kuoppala
The third volume in Doris Lessing's space saga is very close in style to what I would have hoped to have seen in "Shikasta," the opening novel of the series. Like "Shikasta," "The Sirian Experiments" chronicles a long history of Earth, jumping from setting to setting, offering a panoramic view of our planet. Unlike "Shikasta," which was a near chaotic compilation of different texts barely forming a whole, this book is all one report from the viewpoint of an alien exploring this world. And the re ...more
I loved the idea of this book: having another look and evaluation of our planet's physical and social history by removing ourselves from the equation. This was done as a memoir told from the viewpoint of the main administrator of the galactic empire that has been involved in the events of our planet for millennium.

It was interesting to see ideas and historical events in this removed manner. Some things I marked:

"To 'live simply', to 'get back to nature', seemed to nearly everyone the solution to
What is amazing about "The Sirian Experiments" [which I ought to point out I read independently from the rest of the series] is the way in which the science fiction works as a sort of political-psychological history of what makes up the human psyche. Through the memoirs of one of the leaders of the Sirian Empire, one of the fictional interplanetary empires that in Lessing's universe colonise and repeatedly experiment with the population of Earth, we see the history of the planet and human civili ...more
Isabel (kittiwake)
if we wanted to, we could have crammed our planets with billions of genera, species, races—as they once had been. When we wanted, they could be left empty. We could—and did—maintain some planets, for special purposes, at high levels of population, and leave others virtually unpopulated. While all these variations on our basic problem were attempted, our space drive had been stabilised. We had discovered that no matter how forcefully we swept out into space, gathering in suitable planets as we fo ...more
Erik Graff
Aug 02, 2011 Erik Graff rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lessing fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: sf
The concept of Lessing's series of soft science fiction novels is promising. It may be read as a series of accounts of surreptitious extraterrestrial interventions upon ourselves as the subjects of their competing attentions or it may be read as representing more or less covert Soviet and American competition over the allegiances and development of other states. The overriding concern, however, is moral, Lessing seeming to be more concerned with the character development of her protagonists in t ...more
The third in Lessing's Canopus in Argos series, and after the relatively smaller scale of the second book we're back on a galactic scale, watching as Sirian bureaucrats try to guide the evolution of civilisation on Earth over vast periods of time. Once again Lessing is concerned with superior intelligences trying to maintain their patience, humility and perspective in the face of barbarity. As the cover blurb warns, the narrator is rather "dry", but that's not to say she's aloof or unsympathetic ...more
J.M. Hurley
Just reread this after years and it was even better than my (rather faded!) memory of it. Lessing is one of my favourite writers and in my view was and is so beyond her time that even now this book is probably still just one step ahead of current evolution. It was fascinating to see how much of what was predicted for the "imaginary" Shikasta has actually come to pass in recent years. But what I really felt on this read was the deep flow of Canopus, with its heart based approach of flow and inter ...more
Carol Miller
This installment of the series is more closely linked to the first book, although indirectly. This one might be my favorite.
Jul 29, 2014 Katariina marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Rekisteröin kirjan!
Kelly O'Dowd
I don't 100% know how I feel about this one. Seems that the narrator took a little bit too long to realize what she was being taught and that annoyed me, but that could have also been the point.

(edited because I was that jerk who though she knew what a word meant, when obviously she didn't)

I did enjoy the myths of the past though. And how each system dealt with their experiments.

But I also want to just slap Canopus in the face. Like stop being so high and fucking mighty, ya know?
Bart Everson
This rather dry, confusing book, presented in the form of a "report" — a lengthy report — held my interest in an unusual way. It seemed to promise the answer to the "secret of life" (whatever that may be), and upon finishing it I feel as if it did indeed present some answer. Which I must have missed because of rushing so eagerly to finish the book.

I feel that I could probably learn something worthwhile if I went back and read thru it again, carefully.

But I don't think I will.
Jul 12, 2012 Neith is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
"We all see truths when we can see them. When we do, it is always a temptation to consider those who have not seen them as quite intrusively and obdurately stupid."

Sister speaks for me...wait, I hear my brother, Yogi Bhajan speaking into my other ear...Do not solve a problem, drop it.

Yes, yes drop it to the ground and then take a stick and poke at to see if there is any life left of it. And if so, attend to that goodness with co-operation and friendship.
A bit tedious to start, but it would seem (SPOILER ALTERT) that part of the whole point of the thing is about how deep changes to how we think about the world happen slowly and require patience. Lessing always has something important to say in her writing.
This third book in the Canopus in Argos: Archives series was as good as the first two. Doris Lessing's visionary grasp on our world is stunning. Read more here.
Amanda P.
This is the second of Lessing's "space fictions" I've read. I'm not rating it highly, but I will probably read her "Shikasta" eventually...
Frank Mcgeough
Boring, obtuse, endlessly parenthetical. An awful book that also feels very full of itself. Best avoided.
Fenixbird SandS
Another & now for something completely different! SCI FI? DORIS LESSING? whadda U know?
81 shortlisted for booker prize
One of the best books I've read.
Azza Raslan
Amazing as all the rest of the series
A third of five.
Greg added it
Nov 22, 2015
Kate marked it as to-read
Nov 19, 2015
Ginger Hewitt
Ginger Hewitt marked it as to-read
Nov 19, 2015
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Goodreads Librari...: Missing book cover 2 10 Jul 23, 2014 01:10PM  
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Both of her parents were British: her father, who had been crippled in World War I, was a clerk in the Imperial Bank of Persia; her mother had been a nurse. In 1925, lured by the promise of getting rich through maize farming, the family moved to the British colony in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). Like other women writers from southern African who did not graduate from high school (such as Oliv ...more
More about Doris Lessing...

Other Books in the Series

Canopus in Argos (5 books)
  • Re: Colonised Planet 5, Shikasta
  • The Marriages Between Zones Three, Four, and Five
  • The Making of the Representative for Planet 8 (Canopus in Argos #4)
  • The Sentimental Agents in the Volyen Empire

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