The Sentimental Agents in The Volyen Empire

The Sentimental Agents In The Volyen Empire

(Documents Relating to) The Sentimental Agents in the Volyen Empire is a 1983 science fiction novel by Nobel Prize in Literature-winner Doris Lessing. It is the fifth book in her five-book Canopus in Argos series and comprises a set of documents that describe the final days of the Volyen Empire, located at the edge of our galaxy and under the influence of three other galactic empires, the benevolent Canopus, the tyrannical Sirius, and the malicious Shammat of Puttiora.

The Sentimental Agents in the Volyen Empire is a social satire written in the tradition of Jonathan Swift and George Orwell, and focuses on the debasement of language in political rhetoric. In Lessing's fictional universe it is propaganda that keeps the fragile empires afloat, and when language becomes too distorted, some of her characters succumb to a condition called "undulant rhetoric" and are placed in a Hospital for Rhetorical Diseases.

Because of its focus on characterization and social/cultural issues, and the de-emphasis of technological details, this book is not strictly science fiction but soft science fiction, or "space fiction" as Lessing calls her Canopus in Argos series. While The Sentimental Agents can be read as a stand-alone book, Lessing does continue with the history of the Sirian Empire, picking up from where she left off in The Sirian Experiments (1980), the third book in the Canopus series.

Read more about The Sentimental Agents In The Volyen Empire:  Reception, Plot, Characters, Works Cited

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