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Sirius Paperback – May 1, 1964

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Paperback, May 1, 1964
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Editorial Reviews


Sirius is a somewhat poignant journey, incalculably emotive and immeasurably introspective, a true masterpiece of literary (science) fiction. SFBOOK.COM --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Olaf Stapledon (1886-1950) was born near Liverpool and educated at Balliol College, Oxford and Liverpool University. After spending eighteen months working in a shipping office in Liverpool and Port Said, he lectured extramurally for Liverpool University in English Literature and Industrial History. He served in France from 1915 until 1919 with the Friends' Ambulance Unit and then lectured again for Liverpool University in psychology and philosophy. His novels include FIRST AND LAST MEN, LAST MAN IN LONDON, STAR MAKER and ODD JOHN. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (May 30, 1964)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140019995
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140019995
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1 x 5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,384,201 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Dave_42 on May 3, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Olaf Stapledon, is undoubtedly best known for his amazing novels "Star Maker" and "Last and First Men", but if that is all you have read from him then you have missed out on his writings which are in a more traditional style. "Sirius: A Fantasy of Love and Discord", published in 1944, is an excellent book as well, though not on the same scale as those earlier works. It is the story of a "super sheepdog" (Sirius), who was biologically engineered with hormones, and raised along with the daughter (Plaxy) of the scientist (Thomas Trelone). It is a tragic story, in which Sirius struggles between the worlds of his human family and his canine instinct. A unique bond is formed between Plaxy and Sirius that shapes both of their lives.

"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.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Stefan Jones on September 29, 2003
Format: Paperback
Olaf Stapledon is best known for his big-picture future histories, _Last and First Men_ and _Star Maker_. These non-novels imagined the rise and fall of alien and human civilizations on a canvas that spanned galaxies and billions of years of time.
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.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Kim Boykin on May 4, 2002
Format: Paperback
A British scientist bioengineers a dog of human intelligence, and the scientist and his wife raise the dog, Sirius, as another one of their children. The story centers on the relationship between Sirius and his human sister Plaxy. There are interesting details about how being a dog is different from being a human, but essentially this is a story about basic human issues of acceptance, love, identity, purpose, happiness, meaning--issues that are especially difficult for Sirius, as the only one of his kind.

"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.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Max on December 2, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Let me first put it simply: this novel is wonderful.

"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.
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