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Sirius is Thomas Trelone's great experiment - a huge, handsome dog with the brain and intelligence of a human being. Raised and educated in Trelone's own family alongside Plaxy, his youngest daughter, Sirius is a truly remarkable and gifted creature. His relationship with the Trelones, particularly with Plaxy, is deep and close, and his inquiring mind ranges across the spe Sirius is Thomas Trelone's great experiment - a huge, handsome dog with the brain and intelligence of a human being. Raised and educated in Trelone's own family alongside Plaxy, his youngest daughter, Sirius is a truly remarkable and gifted creature. His relationship with the Trelones, particularly with Plaxy, is deep and close, and his inquiring mind ranges across the spectrum of human knowledge and experience. But Sirius isn't human and the conflicts and inner turmoil that torture him cannot be resolved.


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Sirius is Thomas Trelone's great experiment - a huge, handsome dog with the brain and intelligence of a human being. Raised and educated in Trelone's own family alongside Plaxy, his youngest daughter, Sirius is a truly remarkable and gifted creature. His relationship with the Trelones, particularly with Plaxy, is deep and close, and his inquiring mind ranges across the spe Sirius is Thomas Trelone's great experiment - a huge, handsome dog with the brain and intelligence of a human being. Raised and educated in Trelone's own family alongside Plaxy, his youngest daughter, Sirius is a truly remarkable and gifted creature. His relationship with the Trelones, particularly with Plaxy, is deep and close, and his inquiring mind ranges across the spectrum of human knowledge and experience. But Sirius isn't human and the conflicts and inner turmoil that torture him cannot be resolved.

30 review for Sirius: A Fantasy of Love and Discord

  1. 5 out of 5

    Manny

    During the early decades of the 20th century, many intellectuals devoted attention to the idea of what a "Superman" would look like. (George Bernard Shaw is a prominent example). After a while, the emphasis shifted; the Nazis gave the word unpleasant associations, though Professors Siegel and Shuster luckily managed to save it from oblivion with their discovery that the Übermensch would carry a cape and wear his underpants on the outside, an important point that had somehow escaped Nietzsche's a During the early decades of the 20th century, many intellectuals devoted attention to the idea of what a "Superman" would look like. (George Bernard Shaw is a prominent example). After a while, the emphasis shifted; the Nazis gave the word unpleasant associations, though Professors Siegel and Shuster luckily managed to save it from oblivion with their discovery that the Übermensch would carry a cape and wear his underpants on the outside, an important point that had somehow escaped Nietzsche's attention. A strange example of the cross-over between these two streams was Olaf Stapledon. A professor of philosophy by day, I'm guessing that his conception of the Übermensch probably started off at the Nietzsche end; but his science-fiction, which is the only thing that people now remember him for, also contains elements vaguely reminding you of the Son of Krypton. Most of Stapledon's books explore the Superman theme in one form or another. In his most famous works, Last and First Men and the sequel Star Maker, we see the future evolution of the human race, and later on the evolution of all life in the Universe, towards its godlike conclusion. Odd John is a more standard guy-with-amazing-powers story, though a considerably more intelligent one than average. And in Sirius, a book that deserves to be better known, he turns it round. It's unfortunately impossible to imagine what a Superman would be like, since we are only human; this is the insoluble problem at the heart of Odd John. But suppose, instead, that human scientists managed to produce an Überhund, a dog with human-like intelligence. What kind of life would it have? How would it relate to other dogs, and to people? Stapledon did not have an optimistic take on things, and if you've read any of his other books then you've no doubt already guessed that this one is going to be tragic. But it's a surprisingly moving story, and Sirius is one of the great fictional dogs of literature. If you're a dog-lover yourself, consider putting it on your list.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lily

    Why did you make only one of me? It's going to be lonely being me. What do we mean when we talk about community? It's a word that always seems to be prefaced with something else - a location, an interest, a profession. It's hard to strip away those descriptors, to uncover those individuals with no apparent "community", those who challenge us to redefine the word and reevaluate how open our hearts and minds are. With fervor he insisted that the most valuable social relationships were those between Why did you make only one of me? It's going to be lonely being me. What do we mean when we talk about community? It's a word that always seems to be prefaced with something else - a location, an interest, a profession. It's hard to strip away those descriptors, to uncover those individuals with no apparent "community", those who challenge us to redefine the word and reevaluate how open our hearts and minds are. With fervor he insisted that the most valuable social relationships were those between minds as different from one another as possible yet capable of mutual sympathy. A product of biological engineering, Sirius is a dog with the intellect of a human, an interloper between species without a true home in either. We follow him from a puppyhood - as he tries to imitate his human "sister" as she stacks toy bricks - to an adulthood where he at various points plays the role of sheep herder, scientist, and religious cantor. Along the way he witnesses (and inevitably participates in) cycles of manipulation and abuse that occur between different communities, from families to countries and species. He learns the meaning of war, of prejudice, of disability. And even so, sometimes he manages to glimpse what could be achieved through a community where differences are respected and cherished as much as commonalities. "There is no place for me in man's world, and there is no other world for me. There is no place for me anywhere in the universe." She answered, "But wherever I am, there is always a place for you."

  3. 4 out of 5

    Nat K

    Nature or nature? Which is it that makes us who we are? This book absolutely tore at my heart strings. I was prolonging my finishing the book, as I felt the ending was inevitable, but it didn't hurt any less. I felt so much sadness and wonder at the character of Sirius, the "super sheep dog", imbued not only with human intellect, but also the human frailties of jealousy, love, and questions of the spirit. Nothing I write here can express how deeply this book affected me.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Gransden

    My - heart - and - brain - just - broke

  5. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Walter

    Oh man... I'm either a sentimental animal-lover at heart or a preternaturally genius mind trapped in the lumpen, inefficient body of a mere animal (I jest, I jest) but this book really did move me in a way that not a lot of genre fiction has done. Stapledon is best known for his twin individuality-shattering monuments Last and First Men and Starmaker which are probably the two most criminally underlooked examples of speculative fiction in my experience of the genre, particularly the first. I'm no Oh man... I'm either a sentimental animal-lover at heart or a preternaturally genius mind trapped in the lumpen, inefficient body of a mere animal (I jest, I jest) but this book really did move me in a way that not a lot of genre fiction has done. Stapledon is best known for his twin individuality-shattering monuments Last and First Men and Starmaker which are probably the two most criminally underlooked examples of speculative fiction in my experience of the genre, particularly the first. I'm not feeling sufficiently demi-godlike to tackle a review of either of those at this hour so instead I'll talk about Sirius. In line with the aforementioned books, Stapledon is often criticised for a cold, emotionless style of writing, and it's true that his characters (where they are even relevant- and here they certainly are) come across as a little cardboard. Sirius the dog, however, "born with the mind of a man" as the back of my edition somewhat luridly states, is a freak of science that I fell in love with. The book tracks his progression as the dog grows into maturity along with his creator's daughter, the weirdly named Plaxy. We see many facets of his life, as he ponders religion, language and learning. Some of his attempts to "achieve humanity" are really heartbreaking, and I found particularly crushing his relationships with his bitches (and I'm not being funny) Physically, he's got no problems- it's just to him they are just dumb, rutting animals, nothing more... It struck me as having a very humanist tone, reminiscent of John Wyndham's work in places, but the ending ensures that we can safely file this alongside Stapledon's other books as a somewhat elegaic musing on what sentient life can struggle with, and sadly, be reduced to. I suppose it could be argued that Frankenstein and the long line of science fiction in that vein have covered all this ground already, the idea of science creating something beautiful but flawed, and ignorant torch waving mobs and so on...but this is a remarkably thoughtful approach to it, and I really feel that Olaf's analytical genius was reigned in on a different, but no less powerful plane of thinking here. To those that accuse Stapledon of being a pitiless theoretician, I urge you to read this book, and, to a lesser extent, Odd John . PS. I must also say that the book made consider the oceans of dreck that make up the "talking animal" sub-genre of children's film in a very different way. Imagine a lamenting Babe, squealing with self-loathing as he wallows in his own filth, his career as a youth worker impeded at every trot...

  6. 4 out of 5

    anhedral

    'Sirius' is one of those haunting, one-of-a-kind books that will stay with you far longer than it takes to read its 190-odd pages. Sometimes joyful, often searing; through the eyes of his unique protagonist Stapledon takes a scalpel to humanity, and the skill of his dissection is reason enough to recommend this book. I'd also recommend 'Sirius' to anyone interested in writing sentient, communicative animals while respecting their underlying biology. Yes, the main character is a bioengineered, talk 'Sirius' is one of those haunting, one-of-a-kind books that will stay with you far longer than it takes to read its 190-odd pages. Sometimes joyful, often searing; through the eyes of his unique protagonist Stapledon takes a scalpel to humanity, and the skill of his dissection is reason enough to recommend this book. I'd also recommend 'Sirius' to anyone interested in writing sentient, communicative animals while respecting their underlying biology. Yes, the main character is a bioengineered, talking dog with human-level intelligence, the only one of his kind. Sounds clichéd and awful, right? Wrong. In completely non-emotive, even detached and dry language Stapledon delivers a huge emotional and philosophical punch. This short book is a parable of the destruction of an individual spirit by society, and a terrible indictment of humanity's faults. "Why did you make only one of me? It's going to be lonely being me." Sirius can't fit in either as a dog or as a human, though he's driven by impulses from both species. He flips between savagery and tenderness in a heartbeat. He hates not having hands, can't see colour or distinguish shapes very well, but smells and sounds to him communicate a whole world that humans can't touch. In fact, all of the descriptions of his dog-mode existence are totally compelling. At the same time he's capable of strong emotional bonds with humans, loving "as only a dog can", notably the girl with whom he was raised from birth. The relationship between the two of them is disturbing yet beautiful, and is at the core of the book. For such a short read 'Sirius' is overflowing with themes. The inability of science or religion, taken individually, to satisfy the spirit; the nature of individuality and of self-worth; the joy of empathy - even across species - in contrast with the tragedy of loneliness; the corrosive effects of fear, bigotry and intolerance when society has to deal with the unknown. 'Sirius' was first published in 1944, but don't let the vintage put you off. Stapledon is better known for the epic scope of 'Last and First Men' and 'Star Maker', but 'Sirius' will break your heart.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Simon

    A few years back I made a concerted effort to fill in some of the glaring 'gaps' in my SF reading by reading some of the renowned authors and classics of the field that I had hitherto not read. I did manage to fill in many such gaps but one that remained until now was Olaf Stapledon. It's good to finally rectify that even if not with the most obvious choice. A moving and tragic story about what life might be like for a dog with artificially induced intelligence growing up in a human world. How d A few years back I made a concerted effort to fill in some of the glaring 'gaps' in my SF reading by reading some of the renowned authors and classics of the field that I had hitherto not read. I did manage to fill in many such gaps but one that remained until now was Olaf Stapledon. It's good to finally rectify that even if not with the most obvious choice. A moving and tragic story about what life might be like for a dog with artificially induced intelligence growing up in a human world. How does he reconcile his dog nature with his human upbringing and what light does it shed on humanity and the way it treats both dogs generally and Sirius in particular? A pleasant and thought provoking read but never really blew me away. Perhaps I should go with one of his more widely recognised classics next, such as Star Maker or Last and First Men?

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jimmy Ele

    This book is a highly entertaining read. It is about a dog who is genetically engineered to have a human like brain. The whole book is then a sort of struggle between the animals' instincts and it's higher reasoning and logical nature. It works well as a good metaphor for the instinctive nature of man constantly wrestling with the reasoning nature of man. The book itself is a good critique on human nature from an "outsider" that can speak to us. The writing is well done and the ending was well w This book is a highly entertaining read. It is about a dog who is genetically engineered to have a human like brain. The whole book is then a sort of struggle between the animals' instincts and it's higher reasoning and logical nature. It works well as a good metaphor for the instinctive nature of man constantly wrestling with the reasoning nature of man. The book itself is a good critique on human nature from an "outsider" that can speak to us. The writing is well done and the ending was well writ, albeit very sad indeed. Overall I gave it a perfect 5 because towards the end of the book you come away feeling like you have lived alongside the dog Sirius. I also gave it 5 stars for it's scathing outsider critique of humanity.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Peter O'Brien

    "There is no place for me in man's world, and there is no other world for me. There is no place for me anywhere in the universe" - page 190. Sirius is probably Stapledon's most intimate novel that both demonstrates his maturity as a writer and his finesse as a contemplator on what it is to be human. The book is made all the more remarkable when it is realised that these observations on humanity are observed through the eyes of the dog Sirius who has his level of intelligence raised to that of a h "There is no place for me in man's world, and there is no other world for me. There is no place for me anywhere in the universe" - page 190. Sirius is probably Stapledon's most intimate novel that both demonstrates his maturity as a writer and his finesse as a contemplator on what it is to be human. The book is made all the more remarkable when it is realised that these observations on humanity are observed through the eyes of the dog Sirius who has his level of intelligence raised to that of a human being. Stapledon is at his best when he is operating outside of the box and nowhere is that more true than in this tale of a super-intelligent dog's odyssey for spiritual understanding and acceptance both in regards to his conflicted human/canine nature and in the eyes of his human companions. Sirius is a study of the self and that self's exploration of reality and his contemplations of what, if anything, lay beyond the immediate impressions of this reality. Indeed, some of the best moments in the book are Sirius's wonderings in religion and in the conflicts between his human higher functions and instinctual wolf nature. Overall, Sirius has less of the vast scale typically attributed to Stapledon and his other well known works, but when dealing with the subject of the interior soul Sirius is bolder, braver and vastly more human than Stapledon's previous odysseys. This is Stapledon coming to turns with his own nature and encouraging the reader to do likewise.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Amber

    This is a story about a genetically altered sheep dog with human intelligence who tries to figure out what his purpose in life is in a human world. Can he achieve his mission of finding purpose and love without unleashing his wolf-mood that comes naturally to him? Read on and find out. This was a pretty good and sad story that I found on feedbooks. If you like stories about dogs, definitely check it out for yourself.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Dave

    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 ( 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. Perhaps the main reason this book is no longer as highly regarded as Stapledon's other books is due to the fact that it is a more traditional style of writing. Innovation counts for a lot with the fans of this genre, and over the course of time more traditional works can be forgotten. However, this book should not be forgotten nor should Stapledon's "Odd John", because though they are told in a more traditional manner, they still are uniquely Stapledon, and as such they are both worth reading.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jani

    I had heard Stories about Stapledon. ("Stapledon is the ultimate SF writer. Olaf doesn't necessarily even have protagonists, only the history of the bloody civilization.") But instead of being intimidated, my interested was peeked. As a consequence, when I saw Sirius while shopping for my Christmas reading, I decided to pick it up, though to be fair I picked up the novel described as the most humane of his works. Although Mr Stapledon was apparently mystified that his novels were so embraced by t I had heard Stories about Stapledon. ("Stapledon is the ultimate SF writer. Olaf doesn't necessarily even have protagonists, only the history of the bloody civilization.") But instead of being intimidated, my interested was peeked. As a consequence, when I saw Sirius while shopping for my Christmas reading, I decided to pick it up, though to be fair I picked up the novel described as the most humane of his works. Although Mr Stapledon was apparently mystified that his novels were so embraced by the science fiction community, it is easy see based on this novel why he would be included in the canon. Sirius is a character made possible by technology, but like in most, if not all, good SF, how technology works isn't the important thing, but what Sirius can tell about humanity. He is a classical Other used to explore the human (and canine) world and an endearing one at that. While the novel falls sometimes into the pit many SF/fantasy text do of using the character as a straightforward, even simple, vehicle for the author's investigation into morality etc., Sirius interested me as a reader due to his conflicted nature. Conflict in the soul, beliefs and character are, of course, in the center of the story and as such you could see the novel as succeeding while perhaps not for the writing which at times left me wondering if the author meant to make Sirius as twisted as he has done or did he just miss some of the issues or was the writing a bit weak; can't really say. In the end the story was worth reading and had a heart and a mind: a good combination for any novel and especially great for a SF classic.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Pustulio

    **Reseña pronto, debo hacer unos photoshops.** Ahora si chavos, mi reseña. Si pudiera describir el libro en una sola imagen sería: Es una historia de ciencia ficción, y está buena. Pero a veces me causaba un conflicto las situaciones en las que se encontraban los protagonistas. Y todo el tiempo no pude dejar de pensar en Sirius black dog edition de harry potter. No sé si J.K. Rowling sacó alguna de sus ideas de aquí, pero el perro solo por el color parece que es igual. Pero bueno ese no era el pu **Reseña pronto, debo hacer unos photoshops.** Ahora si chavos, mi reseña. Si pudiera describir el libro en una sola imagen sería: Es una historia de ciencia ficción, y está buena. Pero a veces me causaba un conflicto las situaciones en las que se encontraban los protagonistas. Y todo el tiempo no pude dejar de pensar en Sirius black dog edition de harry potter. No sé si J.K. Rowling sacó alguna de sus ideas de aquí, pero el perro solo por el color parece que es igual. Pero bueno ese no era el punto. La historia va de un perro modificado genéticamente como pa' ser SUPER PERRO. Pero pues como que les sale algo como rarito, y pues es como un humano en el cuerpo de un perrote. Está padre ver como las personas reaccionarían ante algo así, aunque el libro tiene unos cuantos detalles inverosímiles en general creo que la visión de una sociedad al ver a un pinshi perro que habla y canta (o si canta y según el libro canta como los mismísimos ángeles pinshi tenor chingón o algo) pues sería la reacción que casi todos esperamos, sociedad temerosa de algo que no logra entender. Está bueno, me gusto. #supernormal.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kieran

    I should not have read this book. I had set myself a task of working my way through the stack of books that I have been meaning to read for sometime. Something drew me to the book shop and in turn to the sci fi section, and then to Olaf Stapledon. Sirius seemed like it would be a nice little read. So I picked it up. I was wrong. It wasn't nice, it was incredible. I resented work and sleep as it prevented me from reading. I will not go to much into the actual book itself as I don't like spoilers. I should not have read this book. I had set myself a task of working my way through the stack of books that I have been meaning to read for sometime. Something drew me to the book shop and in turn to the sci fi section, and then to Olaf Stapledon. Sirius seemed like it would be a nice little read. So I picked it up. I was wrong. It wasn't nice, it was incredible. I resented work and sleep as it prevented me from reading. I will not go to much into the actual book itself as I don't like spoilers. The style that Stapledon wrote in fits my style of reading, I found the story flowed fluidly and the way he built the scene and characters was clear and easy. Except at the end of the book, this story could have just as easily been set in the hear and now, which considering it was written over 60 years ago is not bad going. The way in which he uses Sirius and the supporting cast to explore how we define humanity, love, and religion (the soul), is really well planned out. I loved every word and plan to seek out more Stapledon. Not just his fiction but his philosophical work as well. Best side track I've ever committed.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Eggp

    Existential dog much too smart to be happy you need hands for that.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Laurel Rogers

    This was a magical and thoroughly marvelous tale of a scientifically 'altered' canine named Sirius. The relationship between Sirius and his owner is heart wrenching and extremely genuine in its telling, and the trials and tribulations of the pair are devastating. In the end, however, the reader is left with a sense of sweet, sweet love between 'species'. I highly recommend this book, and others by Stapledon, to any reader.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Nicholas

    Picked it up because it's supposedly one of the best novels written about a non-human protagonist. Certainly some worthwhile conversations within the book, what is humanity, the nature of man and beast, the idea of souls and how one acquires one. Rather predictable ending, but touching nonetheless. Sirius is certainly a great character to be familiar with, and is indeed one of the more creative characters I've read in a while. Translated in Dog: Woof woof. Bark. *low growl* Woof!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Bart

    I wrote a 10-page analysis of Last And First Men, Stapledon's 1930 fiction debut. I wasn't fully convinced by it, but I understood its historical relevance. I didn't really plan to read another Stapledon title, but I came across Sirius in a second-hand store for 5 euros, and both the cover and the subject appealed to me, so I took my chances. (...) I have to admit I was charmed by the fact Stapledon chose to stress the corporeal nature of the dog, and writes about a bodily intelligence - not some I wrote a 10-page analysis of Last And First Men, Stapledon's 1930 fiction debut. I wasn't fully convinced by it, but I understood its historical relevance. I didn't really plan to read another Stapledon title, but I came across Sirius in a second-hand store for 5 euros, and both the cover and the subject appealed to me, so I took my chances. (...) I have to admit I was charmed by the fact Stapledon chose to stress the corporeal nature of the dog, and writes about a bodily intelligence - not some detached soullike mind. But it quickly contrasts with all the talk about the spirit, and ultimately the novel is not about a human mind in a dog's body, but about an ultra-smart dog with language capacity raised partly as a human, not fitting in human society. The book's theme might seem original, but on closer inspection isn't at all. The main conflicts in the protagonist's mind are simply those of Frankenstein's monster. What might be called homage by some actually amounts to theft. Like the monster, Sirius ponders why he was created. Like the monster, Sirius wants a mate that is like him. Like the monster, Sirius feels lonely in the world of men. Like the monster, Sirius feels unacknowledged. And like the monster, he kills in a rage of self-defense. While Frankenstein's monster is tragic and believable, the dog not only manages to write a letter, but folds it in an envelop, puts on a stamp and posts it. All by himself. The epistolary effort is not portrayed as easy - Stapledon goes to some lengths to describe the practical inconveniences of having no hands - but still, Sirius is a "super-super-sheep-dog", so there you have it. He also gets the girl - spoiler, oops - and at the end there's some strange passages in which the girl's husband - that narrator novelist - discusses the dog having sex with her - I'm sure the essential, quintessential "spirit" of this novel. (...) Please read the full review on Weighing A Pig

  19. 5 out of 5

    Tonet

    Stapledon es sin duda y falta de leer Juan Raro, uno de mis autores favoritos. Sirio sin llegar al nivel de especulación filosófica de Hacedor de Estrellas (Para mi superior), se queda muy cerca. Por lo contrario, la menor especulación hace que Sirio sea una novela mucho más divertida y llevadera. En definitiva, un libro que me ha encantado y que guardaré un mi memoria toda mi vida junto a los personajes de Sirio y Plaxy.

  20. 4 out of 5

    5greenway

    "In certain moods he would retire to a favourite point of vantage on the moor and spend hours singing to himself." Captures the sense of wistful tragedy running through this strange, moving little story.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Curran

    Written nine years earlier than SIRIUS, Olaf Stapledon’s ODD JOHN concerned the growth and education of a boy whose intelligence far outstripped the rest of his species. SIRIUS covers the same ground, except this time, the subject is a super-intelligent Welsh sheep dog. Stapledon was a philosopher, and his aim here was to explore questions of what it means to be human. The influence of H.G. Wells looms large both stylistically and in his inquisitive approach (the author is referenced by name in t Written nine years earlier than SIRIUS, Olaf Stapledon’s ODD JOHN concerned the growth and education of a boy whose intelligence far outstripped the rest of his species. SIRIUS covers the same ground, except this time, the subject is a super-intelligent Welsh sheep dog. Stapledon was a philosopher, and his aim here was to explore questions of what it means to be human. The influence of H.G. Wells looms large both stylistically and in his inquisitive approach (the author is referenced by name in the text). But the book lacks Well’s explosive sense of adventure, and the seriousness of its philosophical excursions only serve to emphasise the story’s essential silliness. It’s tough to go highbrow when your protagonist is a talking dog.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Floyd Mind

    Very original and beautiful, but at the same time a very keen observation of humans, through the eyes of a strangely relatable dog.

  23. 4 out of 5

    The London Bookworm

    This is a really interesting book, following a dog (Sirius) who has been created by a scientist to possess human empathy, emotions and intelligence. We follow Sirius through his dramatic life and his struggles with religion, his soul and his place in a society where his entire race is a domestic convenience for humans. Stapledon goes into such depth and has real insight into what it would feel like to be such a lone outsider, an alien in this society, honestly it wouldn't surprise me if he had a This is a really interesting book, following a dog (Sirius) who has been created by a scientist to possess human empathy, emotions and intelligence. We follow Sirius through his dramatic life and his struggles with religion, his soul and his place in a society where his entire race is a domestic convenience for humans. Stapledon goes into such depth and has real insight into what it would feel like to be such a lone outsider, an alien in this society, honestly it wouldn't surprise me if he had actually owned a talking dog. A real classic of sci-fi and a real thinker, I would recommend to those who love sci-fi but aren't against reading a book with a slow build and pacing that works more on the mind that anything else. It has stuck with me long after I finished it.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jeremiah

    To me, this book represents the science-fiction genre at its best. The story uses a "what if" scenario to help teach us about ourselves and the world around us - and also succeeds at being entertaining and emotionally moving. Stapledon was an extremely intelligent writer with a fantastic vocabulary which helped keep me engaged and interested throughout every page. The book is very rich in content, addressing deep philosophical and religious questions. It offers an honest and thorough analysis of To me, this book represents the science-fiction genre at its best. The story uses a "what if" scenario to help teach us about ourselves and the world around us - and also succeeds at being entertaining and emotionally moving. Stapledon was an extremely intelligent writer with a fantastic vocabulary which helped keep me engaged and interested throughout every page. The book is very rich in content, addressing deep philosophical and religious questions. It offers an honest and thorough analysis of humanity from "the outside," similar to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. I enjoyed reading this book more than any other book I've read in the last 2 years.

  25. 5 out of 5

    J.T.

    "Sirius" is a thoroughly enjoyable novel in its own right - a delight to read just for its plot. 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 th "Sirius" is a thoroughly enjoyable novel in its own right - a delight to read just for its plot. 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. The book accomplishes this without preaching - one gets a sense that the author has been careful not to trample upon the narrative for the sake of hammering home a point. To go into greater detail, the central issue is Sirius' "otherness." His mood is at some times that of a pet dog, subservient to humans and humanity, then a savage wolf resenting his human oppressors, then a human trying to relate to others in a human way, and more than anything, a combination of all three aspects, in which state he cannot fit into any of society's niches. Sirius oscillates between all these states as he tries to determine who he is, who he is meant to be, who he wants to be, and how to be true to himself. Sometimes Sirius wishes to fit in with human society, other times that is of no importance to him, and when in his "wolf" mood he finds humanity repulsive, but always he is "other," a permanent outsider. Sirius is neither dog nor man and he suffers for it. Stapledon's presentation of Sirius' sentient yet non-human perspective on humanity is uniquely masterful and convincing, but its true value is in provoking the reader to think about humanity, oneself, and one's relationship with humanity. Sirius is a luminous masterpiece.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Freya

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This is a really interesting and thought-provoking book which had me fascinated and horrified as much as Brave New World did. Maybe it is something about the era they were written in, Brave New World in 1932 and Sirius in 1944, the excitement of technological and scientific progression, the horrors of war and perhaps rose-tinted glasses of how things used to be. Sirius is a super, or super-super-intelligent dog, whose intelligence has him sometimes referred to as a Man-dog. He is created by a sci This is a really interesting and thought-provoking book which had me fascinated and horrified as much as Brave New World did. Maybe it is something about the era they were written in, Brave New World in 1932 and Sirius in 1944, the excitement of technological and scientific progression, the horrors of war and perhaps rose-tinted glasses of how things used to be. Sirius is a super, or super-super-intelligent dog, whose intelligence has him sometimes referred to as a Man-dog. He is created by a scientist who has been breeding super-sheepdogs and Sirius is kind of his crowning glory. He decides to bring Sirius up as a member of his family, raised by his wife alongside their children and particularly Plaxy, a baby girl who is roughly a similar age to Sirius. He is taught to read, write, play and reason as any normal human child is, and he and Plaxy share a close bond. As he grows up and once he reaches maturity you begin to see more and more Sirius questioning everything, as he neither fits in the human world or the dog world. He lacks coloured sight and hands and so can never be fully human, having to make adjustments for his 'deficiencies', but neither does he fit in the dog world where they seem like stupid animals to his intellect. Dogs can't understand his human behaviours and humans can't understand his sense of smell and 'animal musical habits' which are explained as being far more than mere noise - it all carries layered meaning, I would say a blend of human understanding using dog abilities, but that is not correct, more just that he is a different species to both and so he cannot assume one or the other. As he is the only one of his kind he gets lonely and frequently battles between his 'wolf' self and his Sirius self, particularly when you see his relationship with Plaxy where she is also struggling to define herself having been brought up closely with Sirius. As Plaxy loves and loathes Sirius, does Sirius experiencing the world love and loathe humans in things that they do. It is a fascinating book which looks into human behaviour from an 'outside' perspective and what is shown of us isn't always pleasant. It is also a fascinating read on how people consider their place and purpose in the world and of not belonging and of making people welcome and being careful of the feelings of others who may or may not be like you. It is a tragic story, much like Brave New World, but well worth a read.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ana

    Vídeoreseña "Why did you make only one of me? It's going to be lonely being me" Sirius is a genetically engineered dog that has been endowed with human intelligence by his maker, Thomas Trelone. Sirius’s story comes really close to that of Frankenstein’s monster, as he tells his many tribulations while trying to achieve a human-like life. Both characters share the same troubled mentality as they gradually find out that they don’t fit either as a human or as a member of their own species. Stapled Vídeoreseña "Why did you make only one of me? It's going to be lonely being me" Sirius is a genetically engineered dog that has been endowed with human intelligence by his maker, Thomas Trelone. Sirius’s story comes really close to that of Frankenstein’s monster, as he tells his many tribulations while trying to achieve a human-like life. Both characters share the same troubled mentality as they gradually find out that they don’t fit either as a human or as a member of their own species. Stapledon’s approach to this dilemma seems more thoughtful, covering themes like empathy, love, loneliness, and fear of the unknown. Don’t let the premise of a talking dog fool you into thinking this is a Disney-like story— while the main character is technically a talking animal, Stapledon does not overlook their own biology and impulses as such. Ultimately, ‘Sirius’ is a moving story that tries to answer the question of what it really means to be human.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Tobias Taylor

    Oddly this was my first foray into Stapledon's works. I had intended to start with the classic duo 'First and Last Men' and 'Starmaker' but alas my intentions were running along a different path to reality, as they so often are. I'm struck by the similarities 'Sirius' has with Capek's 'War With the Newts,' of ten years prior, but also astounded by how starkly different the two novels are. The character Sirius is alone, he has no species, so naturally from the outset, it must be a tragedy. There a Oddly this was my first foray into Stapledon's works. I had intended to start with the classic duo 'First and Last Men' and 'Starmaker' but alas my intentions were running along a different path to reality, as they so often are. I'm struck by the similarities 'Sirius' has with Capek's 'War With the Newts,' of ten years prior, but also astounded by how starkly different the two novels are. The character Sirius is alone, he has no species, so naturally from the outset, it must be a tragedy. There are, however, more than small triumphs, his self-awareness and ability to implore self-criticism are traits that most humans lack. But ahh god - his artistic mind, his fluid creativity, and his vices - these are truly what make him a genius. These are what make trudging through 200 pages of biographical Welsh farming from the 40's worth it!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Juan

    A pesar de tenerlo hace años en mi biblioteca no lo había leido. Pero recordé Ciudad de Simak y hojeándolo, para recordarlo, leí que decía que eran dos libros los que tenían buena fama sobre el tema de los perros y la CF, Ciudad y Sirio. Entonces, armado de paciencia y anticipando una lectura casi decimonónica fue que empecé a leer Sirio. Y si, por partes es medio aburridón y previsible, pero son pocas partes realmente. En general se lee bastante bien y no se le notan mucho los años, que son bas A pesar de tenerlo hace años en mi biblioteca no lo había leido. Pero recordé Ciudad de Simak y hojeándolo, para recordarlo, leí que decía que eran dos libros los que tenían buena fama sobre el tema de los perros y la CF, Ciudad y Sirio. Entonces, armado de paciencia y anticipando una lectura casi decimonónica fue que empecé a leer Sirio. Y si, por partes es medio aburridón y previsible, pero son pocas partes realmente. En general se lee bastante bien y no se le notan mucho los años, que son bastantes. Me sorprendió que Stapledon se animara a tratar los temas del bestialismo y el incesto, y que lo hiciera con naturalidad, en una época que la CF era bastante pacata. En fin, que vale la pena leerlo.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Guy Haley

    Stapledon's a very rare SF writer in that his books do not date. This one, set and written during World War II, concerns the creation of a highly intelligent "man-dog", and its repercussions. Sirius is a fantastic reflection on the way dogs think, our relationship with them, and out own split natures. Written in Stapledon's characteristic reported style, here a biography penned by the lead female character's lover, the prose at first feels distancing, but as the book progresses allows a great dea Stapledon's a very rare SF writer in that his books do not date. This one, set and written during World War II, concerns the creation of a highly intelligent "man-dog", and its repercussions. Sirius is a fantastic reflection on the way dogs think, our relationship with them, and out own split natures. Written in Stapledon's characteristic reported style, here a biography penned by the lead female character's lover, the prose at first feels distancing, but as the book progresses allows a great deal of subtly a more direct style would not. Beautiful, thought-provoking and moving.

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