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The Making of the Representative for Planet 8 (1982)

av Doris Lessing

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Serier: Canopus in Argos: Archives (4)

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
4861338,329 (3.68)19
From the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, this is the fourth instalment in the visionary novel cycle 'Canopus in Argos: Archives'. The handsome, intelligent people of Planet 8 of the Canopean Empire know only an idyllic existence on their bountiful planet, its weather consistently nurturing, never harsh. They live long, purposeful, untroubled lives. Then one day The Ice begins, and ice and snow cover the planet's surface. Crops and animals die off, and the people must learn to live with this new desolation. Their only hope is that, as they have been promised, they will be taken from Planet 8 to a new world. But when the Canopean ambassador, Johor, finally arrives, he has devastating news: they will die along with their planet. Slowly they come to understand that their salvation may lie in the creation of one Representative who can save what is most essential to them. Lessing has written a frightening and, finally, hopeful book, a profound and thought-provoking contribution to the science-fiction genre the novel generally.… (mer)
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In her afterword to her novel Lessing says:
“Back from the sociological speculation to this little book of mine. I can’t say I enjoyed writing it, for the snow and the ice and cold seemed to get into me and slow my thoughts and processes”
And I have to say I didn’t always enjoy reading it. There is a soporific quality in some of the writing and Lessing occasionally strays into la-la land.

This is the fourth novel in Lessing’s Canopus in Argos: Archives; her science fiction series where her imagined universe is controlled by the Canopians: a benevolent god like race or entities who strive to nurture planets and their populations in their development, however there are other forces at work who strive to disrupt this process. On one of these planets: Rohanda, which had all the natural advantages the evil forces of disruption were gaining control and Canopus renamed the planet Shikasta; the broken one. Shikasta of course is another name for our Earth.

Lessing’s Conopus series is written as though the author was dipping into the archives to select certain key events and so the novels do not necessarily follow on from each other and can be read as stand alone books. This is especially true of The Making of the Representative for planet 8, where Lessing imagines a developing world where its human like population is benefiting from the knowledge and wisdom of representatives from Canopus who visit and make suggestions for improvements. On one of these visits Canopus strongly advises the population of planet 8 to build a wall right round the circumference of their planet and supplies the materials. It takes the population a whole year to build their wall and not long after it is finished their planet suffers a climate change resulting in an ice age. The ice and snow is held at bay by the wall and the population relocate behind it, representatives from Canopus tell the people that they expect the ice to eventually cover their planet but Canopus will transport the people to a new planet, the promising Rohanda.

Lessing tells the story from the point of view of one of the planet 8’s representatives; Doeg who is the story teller and historian for his people. Much of the book is about the struggle for survival in an encroaching ice age, but Lessing’s style places the reader a few steps away from the intensity of the action. It is like reading an historical report, albeit one written by an eye witness. Conditions on the planet get worse and the Canopian Johor arrives to live among the planets representatives as they battle for survival. It appears now as though the promised airlift to another planet is not going to happen. Lessing indulges in some speculation on a sort of afterlife or transcendence into another mental state and there are passages in the book such as this:

“While we laboured and fought and exhorted and forced the doomed wretches up and out of their lethargy, we were being changed molecule by molecule, atom by atom. And in the unimaginable vast spaces between the particles of the particles of the particles of the electrons and neutrons and protons - between the particles that danced and flowed and vibrated? Yes, in these faint webs or lattices or grids of pulses, changes went on over which we had no control. Which we could not chart or measure. Thoughts - but where were they, in the empty spaces of our beings? - that once we had regarded tolerently, or with approval, as necessary, were now being rejected by what we had become.”

The vast majority of the people on planet 8 sink into a cold induced lethargy, huddling together in ice block houses waiting to die. It is only the few remaining representatives along with Johor who seek some sort of salvation. If it was Lessing’s intention to impart a feeling of lethargy and hopelessness in the reader then I think she has succeeded. It is a short novel of 161 pages, but feels longer, it is supplemented by the authors afterword of a further 30 pages in which she uses the story of Scott of the Antartica’s disastrous attempts to reach the South Pole as a sort of warning against Nationalism.

The moral of the story; and I suspect there might be one could be that if we rely on God for our salvation then some of us might achieve some transcendence of the spirit, but for most people it would lead to our doom. Interesting to speculate on this theme, but you would need to be motivated by these thoughts and ideas to fully enjoy this novel. This one didn’t quite do it for me, Lessing has lost some of the magic of her previous books in the Canopus series and so 3.5 stars. ( )
1 rösta baswood | Oct 8, 2016 |
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 up the book again.
( )
  memccauley6 | May 3, 2016 |
I like Lessing and I even like her sci-fi. When I think back on it, it seems a bit simplistic, but when I'm actually reading it, I find it engrossing. I've read her whole series (Canopus in Argos: Archives) and like this one the best. ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
Within a lifetime the inhabitants of the idyllic Planet 8 find that their planet is plunged into an Ice Age due to an unexpected cosmic alignment, causing them to have to endure social, cultural, and even physical changes while they wait for rescue.

It began well, but the mystical final stages of the inhabitants' ordeal and ending went on for rather too long for my taste. ( )
  Robertgreaves | May 20, 2015 |
I have only read two works by Doris Lessing; the Cleft and this one. Both are described as being of the sci-fi genre and my reaction to them could hardly be more at variance. The Cleft, I found, to be a silly story that added nothing to my knowledge of the human condition, this book held me riveted from beginning to end. I even approve of the afterword: a much superior cousin to the foreword, which tells one what to think of a book before one has read it. The afterword adds to one's enjoyment - I'll freely admit that I had not linked this story to that of Scott but, having Ben told, I can see the link. Were this to have Ben pointed out before I had made my assessment of the tale, I would have spent too much time and effort on looking for this link.

In direct contrast with the Cleft,the characters of this book, although ostensibly alien, were so much more human, believable and realistic. I must now find more of Lessing's work so that I may judge which book is the standard, in my humble opinion. ( )
  the.ken.petersen | Feb 17, 2014 |
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Doris Lessingprimär författarealla utgåvorberäknat
Denvir, CatherineOmslagmedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Snow, GeorgeOmslagmedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
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You ask how the Canopean Agents seemed to us in the times of The Ice.
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The edition by Dunvagen Music Publishers, Inc. is a libretto from the opera with music by Phillip Glass.
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From the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, this is the fourth instalment in the visionary novel cycle 'Canopus in Argos: Archives'. The handsome, intelligent people of Planet 8 of the Canopean Empire know only an idyllic existence on their bountiful planet, its weather consistently nurturing, never harsh. They live long, purposeful, untroubled lives. Then one day The Ice begins, and ice and snow cover the planet's surface. Crops and animals die off, and the people must learn to live with this new desolation. Their only hope is that, as they have been promised, they will be taken from Planet 8 to a new world. But when the Canopean ambassador, Johor, finally arrives, he has devastating news: they will die along with their planet. Slowly they come to understand that their salvation may lie in the creation of one Representative who can save what is most essential to them. Lessing has written a frightening and, finally, hopeful book, a profound and thought-provoking contribution to the science-fiction genre the novel generally.

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