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The Making of the Representative for Planet 8 (Canopus in Argos #4)

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  579 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
The fourth in Doris Lessing's visionary novel cycle Canopus in Argos: Archives. It is a mix of fable, futuristic fantasy and pseudo-documentary accounts of 20th-century history.
Paperback, 190 pages
Published May 1st 1994 by HarperCollins (first published 1982)
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Mar 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing

I'm not really a very happy or "positive" person, but neither am I unaware of the fantastic hoax that attempts to convince me of the invincible hopelessness of it all... when I see the love that the people I have been blessed to meet in this life possess... when I experience their fearless creativity... the warmth comes over me...

I am reminded of this book I read years ago, about a planet that dies, full of people and life, all going to die by a gradual freezing... I remember the tediousness of

Barbara Wahl
Mar 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
non perdetevi la postfazione!

Come ogni libro di lessing, è straordinario.
Un racconto filosofico, sotto una coltre di gelo fantascientifico (il pianeta sta morendo nella morsa del freddo).
Si rimane avvinti da una pagina all'altra in una storia in cui tutto scompare sotto i nostri occhi: animali, natura, cibo, i nostri simili, forse l'umanità.
Bellissima l'immagine della speranza che nasce perché non vi è più speranza. Io l'ho letto come una riflessione sull'Io, ma tante letture sono possibili.
Nov 12, 2014 rated it it was ok
This and book 2 (Marriages...) are the weakest volumes of the cycle. My recommendation is to skip those two which is easily doable as they have no significance for the rest of the Canopus cycle.

The story again is more narrowly focused in contrast to books 1 and 3. Planet 8 is entering an ice age, making survival of any species impossible. Canopus knows this and prepares to save the relevant traits of its inhabitants in selected representatives for Planet 8.

The central topic is individuality or m
Nov 19, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sf-and-fantasy
A fairly slight tale which, if you edited out all the repetition and digression would be better as a short story a third of its current length. A couple of interesting ideas are briefly raised, but it's all very limp and wispy, and the ambiguous, quasi-mystical ending falls flat.
The afterword in which Lessing explains how she was inspired by reading about Scott's Antarctic expedition is far more engaging.
Vel Veeter
Feb 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: cbr-10
This is another of the more one-ff books of the five. Not to say that any one of them isn’t but this is one of the ones that feels like a singular tale, so much as a continuation of the broader narrative of the whole collection. In this novel we are on Planet 8 of the Canopean colonial empire, and its representative there is realizing the colony is doomed. Because of various conditions on the planets, namely the fast approaching of an ice age, the colony is unlikely to survive. Reaching out to C ...more
Mikael Kuoppala
Jul 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
The shortest novel in Doris Lessing's space fiction series is a surprisingly extensive allegory of the state of human civilization. It tells the story of a planet facing an ecological disaster that's turning it too cold for most of the life forms inhabiting it. The narrator is a member of a native humanoid race overseeing a possible relocation of his people. On top of the clear reference to our own global warming, humanity is also represented on a deeper level. Faced with possible extinction the ...more
Sep 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-good-shit
don't read it unless you want to be knocked off your tracks.

personally i really enjoy being knocked off my tracks--ways of thinking become rote, calcified.

ok so now imagine: your planet is slowly freezing, from the poles up. nevermind the science here--this isn't about science--this is about what happens when an entire planet full of people is dying.

if you believe that we leave nothing behind but meat, this book may not do much for you. if you are a firm believer in a particular heaven or other
Melissa McCauley
Oct 17, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
This is a very slim book – however, it could not keep my interest long enough to finish it. Reading this novella requires real dedication, because it has no chapters and no breaks.

Planet 8 is besieged by drastic climate change, and the inhabitants change their entire society on the advice of Canopus, another, more advanced race. The buildup was incredibly slow, and I frequently found my eyes sliding off the page. I finally gave up when I found myself grinding my teeth at the thought of picking
Feb 27, 2008 rated it liked it
Not sure what I think of this. It certainly tries to explain almost at a quantum level what happens when people enter Zone 6 (I presume). It was a bit wordy and difficult to follow but the descriptions of the ice were superb. A weaker book than the first three in the series.
Dec 24, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
I loved the image of the wall that threads through this novel. The idea that humans believe we can create technological fixes to control all natural (or not natural) phenomenon...and the inanity of this is beautiful.
Jan 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
The least hospitable of the Canopus books I've read, but beautiful in a harsh way. Feels both alien and universal.
Mar 04, 2017 rated it liked it
Jul 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
"Ma forse, Johor, quando guardi questo pianeta con gli occhi di Canopus, non ci vedi affatto come individui, ma come combinazioni di individui che condividono una qualità che di fatto li rendere - ci rende - uno solo"
Quando ho acquistato "Un luogo senza tempo" senza conoscere né l'autrice né questo titolo in sè, mi sono ritrovata in mano un romanzo di fantascienza atipico ma dotato di un fascino non indifferente. Non un romanzo che parla di guerre intergalattiche, viaggi ed eroi, ma che si focal
Jul 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 31, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2018
I just didn't get it, I hate to say. I've liked other Lessing I've read.

The best part was the rambling, pointless afterward about South Pole explorers. No, really. It was at least interesting and coherent.
Oct 07, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This very slim book took me longer to read than you'd imagine, but that didn't make it hard or boring - just that there was a lot to take in and I wanted to do Lessing's beautiful writing justice. The book's genre classification as sci-fi serves as huge nod to that genre's capacity to contain almost everything that can be thrown at it, because this is as far removed from battling spaceships, robot butlers, alien viruses, stars both trek and wars as it's possible to get.

This is a quiet, elegiac
Grazia Omicini
Un monologo interrotto da pochi dialoghi che descrive la lenta distruzione di un pianeta. Difficile da capire, anche leggendo la post-fazione dell'autrice. Ispirato dalle vicende legate all'esplorazione del polo sud e dalla morte di Scott, dovuta a inefficienze e disorganizzazione nella spedizione, suggerisce molti temi e spunti di riflessione, ben oltre le questioni legate al cambiamento climatico. Una delle tematiche che più mi ha colpito è la distinzione individuo-ruolo pubblico. I Rappresent ...more
Dan Makaon
Feb 13, 2012 rated it it was ok
This was a short book but it took me a long time to get through it because of Lessing's style of writing: very British--very pedantic--almost 18th century. In addition, the repetition of description was stupefying. I mean, how many ways can you describe white ice and snow ad nauseam; I think she exhausted every possibility. The repetition also wound its way into the thoughts of the characters who, in all so many different ways, seemed to think the same thoughts over and over again. I was struck ...more
Isabel (kittiwake)
When we looked up at that wall, we could see how the ice had come pressing down and over its top. A dirty greyish white shelf projected from our wall: it was the edge of a glacier. If the wall gave, then what could stand between us and the ice and snow of that interminable winter up there, whose shrieking winds and gales kept us awake at nights, while we huddled together under the mounds of thick hides? But the wall would not give. It could not . . . Canopus had prescribed it, Canopus had ordere ...more
Mark Peters
May 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
Lessing's 'Canopus' books are quite unique in literature. I have read few series of books that have set themselves so grand a goal to achieve as to try to explain and unravel the complex tapestry that is human culture, civilisation and the stimuli that leads to the creation of both. She does this through the use of symbolic sci-fi and myth-making.

Sci-fi (which I love by the way) is on the whole genre based and so generally follows a classical narrative arc but by eschewing such conventions she a
Phred Padgett
Mar 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone uncertain in their spirituality
Recommended to Phred by: I found Shikasta, and was on a voyage of discovery of Doris Less
Shelves: lessing
I told Ms. Lessing when I met her at the University Book Store in Seattle, that it was my favorite, as it was what I considered the "great 'What If' book"...

It tells the tale of a personage coming from another planet to this Planet 8, telling them to prepare for something that was coming... but it never happened. He was preparing them for death: in other words, all the things they were being told were lies. Lies to ease the pain. Lies to give them false hope. Such a dark shadow of our religions
Jenny Yates
Apr 28, 2012 rated it it was ok
This is the story of a planet that’s dying due to climate change. It’s basically the tale of a society, with the individuals pretty much interchangeable. There’s very little dialogue, although the characters do raise some philosophical points in long monologues. I wouldn’t really call it a novel, it’s more of a rumination.

Is it worth reading? If you’re in that sort of mood. If you’re tired of ordinary novels, and want to branch out into more experimental fiction. There is something haunting abo
Tristan Egarr
Sep 18, 2014 rated it it was ok
Chronicling the death-by-freezing of a world and of its people, with monologuing asides regarding the nature of identity. This would have made for an excellent short story in the mode of Borges, but the complete lack of personality of its characters - perhaps necessary for the point Lessing wants to make - means that its 120 pages drag, and the philosophy monologues become repetitive. It's pessimistic in the extreme, but it does achieve its aims, so I guess I'd have to regard it as a success.
Aug 22, 2013 rated it liked it
Forse sono stata tratta in inganno per la classificazione "fantascienza" che appioppano tutti a questo libro -parte della serie Canopus della Lessing.
A me non è piaciuto, specialmente per il tipo di scrittura e per il modo in cui sono affrontate le tematiche: spesso da rileggere interi paragrafi, lentissimo e colloso, spiacevolmente arduo da portare a termine.
Apr 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've started with the 4th book in a series, so I'm not entirely sure what to make of it. Using the symbolism of an encroaching planetary ice age, the book seems to an allegory for the awakening and endurance of the human spirit in the universe in spite of the fluidity of identity and the futility of our dependence on other almost godlike beings.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Azza Raslan
Jun 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
After Shikasta this book was my my favorite in the Canopus in Argos series. The book ends with such an explosion that I literally turned the page and started the book again, just to savor the end again
Virginia Äl
Sep 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Suomennos luettu. Hienoin scifi-tarina jonka olen lukenut. Minimalistinen ja tarinan loppu hyytävän kaunis.
Jul 07, 2008 added it
A fourth of five.
Jul 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction
The book is about facing Hopelessness and Death. If you believe you don't need the skill, the book will be hard for you to read. Otherwise - I don't know any better source for the know how ;-)
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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 Sirian Experiments
  • The Sentimental Agents in the Volyen Empire