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Doris Lessing

Our technological development had reached a peak and had been established long enough for us to understand the problems it must bring. The chief one was this: there was nothing for billions upon billions of individuals to do. They had no purpose but to exist, and then die.
. . .
We had not understood that there is inherent in every creature of this Galaxy a need, an imperative, towards a continual striving, or self-transcendence, or purpose. To be told that there is nothing to do but consume, no work needed, nothing to achieve, is to receive a sentence of death.
. . .
Thus did our technological advances announce to ourselves, to other empires, to anybody interested, that what governed the coming into existence, or not, of an individual, was work. Or the lack of it. And where would that end?

About the Author

Doris Lessing: A Retrospective
Anachron Library: Shikasta
Web Resources for Doris Lessing
Lit Links for Doris Lessing
Salon Interview


Shikasta is the first title in Lessing's Canopus in Argos series. These space fiction novels have captured the attention of such composers as Robert Fripp and Philip Glass.

For Thomas M. Disch, a novel like Shikasta is a good reason why fiction authors should stick to their genre.