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Sirius Paperback – May 1, 1964
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"Sirius" can stand alone, or be considered part of Stapledon's vast future universe as outlined in his other works. The story is simply on a much smaller scale, and so would not in and of itself be a noteworthy event in books like "Last and First Men" or "Star Maker". Thomas Trelone is Stapledon's Frankenstein, though certainly he does not suffer from the same character flaws as Shelly's famous predecessor. At the same time, Trelone admits that he failed to consider all of the consequences of his experiment, which led to a very lonely and torn character in Sirius. Sirius cannot fit in with humans for many reasons, though Sirius himself focuses on the lack of hands. Sirius also doesn't fit with other canines, as he finds them too simple and only interesting when a female is in heat.
This book was tied for 9th on the Arkham Survey in 1949 as one of the `Basic SF Titles', which was a higher rank than "Star Maker" (tied for 13th) received.Read more ›
By contrast, _Sirius_, written during World War II and published in 1944, is a story on a much more human scale, despite (as the title suggests) being about a dog. It is a also a far more mature and insightful story than Stapledon's earlier works. It is also a really _sad_ story. . . a genuine tragedy.
Sirius, a mastiff / alsatian / border collie mix with a brain enlarged by _in utero_ hormone treatments, is as smart as an above-average human, but retains the senses and instincts of a dog. His life is not an easy one, despite having loving human step parents and siblings. The novel follows his childhood and education in Wales, his experiences as an anonymous social observer in 1940s London, and his career as a sheep farmer. (What better job for a dog?) We also learn about an affair with his human step-sister, and his painful brooding about his place in the world and the meaning of his strange life.
Science fiction usually does not age well. _Sirius_, by contrast, has become even more important and relevant in today's world, where sheep actually get cloned, and mice have been given larger and more convoluted brains through genetic engineering.
Contrast _Sirius_ with Kirsten Bakis's _Lives of the Monster Dogs_, which was slicker and brighter but is nowhere near as realistic, insightful, or involving.
"Sirius" is out of print as a separate novel but is in print paired with another Stapledon novel (that I didn't like as much) as "Odd John and Sirius."
"Sirius" and Stapledon's "Last and First Men" are two of the best science fiction books I've ever read. I wonder why Stapledon's work isn't better known.
"Sirius" is a thoroughly enjoyable novel in its own right - a delight to read just for its plot. I bet you'll be hooked by the end of the first page! But "Sirius" is also meant to encourage philosophical thought, which it does in a delicate, subtle, and very approachable way. As with all good books of this sort, "Sirius" raises many more questions than are answered.
Ostensibly, "Sirius" is a science fiction novel. I think you'll agree Sci-fi generally doesn't age well - this was written in 1944 - so you might be inclined to pre-emptively dismiss this as hopelessly outdated. Not so. "Sirius" maintains its relevancy by keeping science in the background. What science there is remains quite believable and plausible - only the briefest internal struggle is necessary to make it compatible with our modern knowledge. Essentially, the main character, Sirius, is a sentient quadrupedal dog created by a scientist, and who has acquired mostly human sensibilities through being raised by a human family alongside their own children. Sirius' development and upbringing closely parallels the scientist's youngest daughter, Plaxy, with whom he forms a close and unique life-long bond. Plaxy, while biologically entirely human, is fundamentally altered (yet not overtly) by her close upbringing and relationship with Sirius.
Most of the text deals with humanity - or more specifically, a non-human sentient's perspective and interactions with the society of Britain in the 1930-40s. "Sirius" manages to be engaging right from the start while also raising serious questions about humanity and its worth, delivered through an accounting of Sirius' daily life, adventures, and misadventures.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Lovely copy of my favorite all time book. Stapledon's dog with human intelligence - is dateless. We learn about us through HIS eyes - and we get an "objective" view of... Read morePublished 23 days ago by C. T. Houchin
This book arrived in great condition, exactly as pictured. Wonderfully engaging story. I started reading it after I heard an interview with the musician Bonnie Prince Billy... Read morePublished 5 months ago by <3<3<3
This 1944 science fiction classic is the tale of a dog treated with hormones by a scientist to have a mind equivalent to a highly intelligent man's, yet retaining the instincts and... Read morePublished 10 months ago by gammyraye
A moving SF tale of some superintelligent dogs, and one in particular. An experiment produces a dog that is smarter than people. Read morePublished on August 30, 2007 by average
Olaf Stapledon (1886-1950) was the generational link between H. G. Wells (with whom he corresponded) and more recent British sci-fi authors as Arthur C. Read morePublished on April 9, 2005 by Maximiliano F Yofre