Doris Lessing's celebrated space fiction set in an extraordinary cosmos where the fate of the Earth is influenced by the rivalries and interactions of three powerful galactic empires.
The story of the final days of our planet is told through the reports of Johor, an emissary sent from Canopus.
Twentieth-century Earth, named "Shikasta, the stricken" by the kindly, paternalistic Canopeans who colonised it many centuries ago, is under the influence of the evil empire of Puttiora. War, famine, disease and environmental disasters ravage the planet. To Johor, mankind is a "totally crazed species", racing towards annihilation: his orders to save humanity set him what seems to be an impossible task.
Blending myth, fable and allegory, Doris Lessing's astonishing visionary creation both reflects and redefines the history of our own world from its earliest beginnings to an inevitable, tragic self-destruction.