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Documents Relating to the Sentimental Agents in the Volyen Empire (1983)

by Doris Lessing

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304836,791 (3.85)10
Recently added byprivate library, rehpii, Gamesteacher, leitnerl, susanursel, unapersson, hulswit, SerenaYates, gsides78

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The fifth and final book in Lessing’s Canopus in Argos science fiction series. There is no central plot or story line linking the novels, although the universe building that started with Shikasta continues. The Sentimental Agents in the Volyen Empire reads just like another book in the series and one wonders why Lessing bothered. It reads like the author herself was tiring in her efforts to keep this series afloat, perhaps she was obstinately ploughing ahead with her less than critically acclaimed series out of sheer obstinacy.

This like the previous novels consist of a series of reports from agents of Canopus on their work in nurturing the known universe. The Volyen empire consisting of a planet and two moons and a couple of satellite planets is in decline. Agent Klorathy is reporting to Johor on his efforts to bring the empire closer to the benevolent control of Canopus, but is up against agents from other Empire builders. The powerful Sirian empire which is also in decline and the evil Shammat (polar opposite of Canopus) are also active. Klorathy is also nurturing Incent a prodigy of his who is having particular difficulties.

The overriding theme of this novel is the power of rhetoric. Spies, agents and demagogues are all pitching for the hearts and minds of the populations in the Volyen empire. Incent is either afire with his own rhetoric or is in a depressive state and Klorathy has to make decisions on his mental health. As in previous novels in the series and perhaps even more so here, this is a novel of ideas: Lessing keeps her characters at arms length, the reader is not encouraged to feel any empathy for their situations. It is all just a series of reports.

The sense of wonder and a delight in story telling that was a feature of the first thee novels in this series has escaped Lessing in the final two and so I rate this as 2.5 stars. ( )
1 vote baswood | Jan 13, 2017 |
The final book in Doris Lessing's Canopus in Argos series looks at the influence of political rhetoric on societies, how it is predictable (just fill in the blanks) and meaningless.

Thought-provoking with characters from the first and third in the series rather than broad themes echoed and repeated. ( )
  Robertgreaves | Jul 22, 2016 |
It is difficult to say more about this than the other books in the series. Lessing gives us a complex and multi layered science fiction allegory of 20th century politics, religion and life.
  otterley | Apr 19, 2016 |
Lessing writing sci-fi!? I know, she's great. It takes us within our own reality, but on another planet. ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
Dreck, dreck, dreck, possibly the worst science fiction series I've had the misfortune of reading -- tedious to the infinite. Forced myself to read the series hoping it would improve... ( )
  Georges_T._Dodds | Mar 30, 2013 |
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KLORATHY, FROM INDEPENDENT
PLANET VOLYEN, TO
JOHOR ON CANOPUS
I requested leave from service in Shikasta; I find myself on a planet whose dominant feature is the same as Shikasta's.
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