Helliconia Spring Hardcover – Feb 25 1982
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"- "Science fiction has never before had this grandeur."-Times Literary Supplement - "Brian Aldiss's towering imagination places his Helliconia trilogy far above standard science fiction."-Daily Mail --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Brian Aldiss began his enormously successful career as a bookseller in Oxford before becoming Literary Editor of the Oxford Mail. His two outspoken and best-selling novels, The Hand-Reared Boy and A Solider Erect, established his reputation, which was soon enhanced by a psychedelic novel of European dimensions, Barefoot in the Head. He is also the author of a Gothic adventure, Frankenstein Unbound, a space opera, The Eighty-Minute Hour, a remarkable opus entitled The Malacia Tapestry and an epic extravaganza illustrated by Mike Wilks, Pile. But his fame, built up over many years, is as one of the most innovative, prolific and popular writers of science fiction of our day. His most recent books in this field have been Last Orders and Other Stories; Enemies of the System, which Anthony Burgess described in the Observer as 'rich, allusive, full of real people and unfailingly interesting'; New Arrivals, Old Encounters and Moreau's Other Island. Now Brian Aldiss has gone beyond the normal parameters of science fiction. Helliconia Spring is the first volume of a gigantic new odyssey, introducing an entire planetary system: to use the term coined by H. G. Wells, a magnificent 'scientific romance'.
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Top Customer Reviews
These grand concepts are definitely robust, but at the more immediate levels of plotline and character development, Aldiss delivers little more than a very typical fantasy/adventure yarn with a little bit of sci-fi mixed in. There are some creative settings and weird features like animals that are born by eating their way out of their parents, and trees that grow underground during the winter then literally explode into the spring. But these are undermined by a very predictable tale of epic journeys, strange creatures, and complex but courageous leaders, straight from a million fantasy novels. Also Aldiss has a very - shall we say - "outdated" conception of the female characters. The worst aspect of this novel is something that really looks like a tacked-on afterthought. It turns out that Helliconia is being observed by a team of Earth scientists who ludicrously have been hanging around the planet for centuries and making very quiet analyses of this primitive world.Read more ›
The general premise of the trilogy is interesting - Helliconia, a distant planet circling a binary star sytem is discovered by Earth-humans who set up a satellite space station to observe the day to day life of Helliconia's 'human' and Phagor inhabitants. The lifestyle of the Helliconian's is determined by the season in which their generation lives in, and the trilogy begins at the end of a 3000 year winter, where Phagors are dominant and humans subjective to them.
Despite this unique idea, the trilogy falls down in story-telling. The plot for "Spring" is weak, but improves in "Summer" and "Winter", and the characterisation is average - especially the female characters. Having said this, there is some thought-provoking commentary on our nature: in particular, sociology; conservation; religion; and warfare.
The Helliconia Trilogy has been compared to Dune by other reviewers, but I think this is unfair on Aldiss. The purpose of the series is not just to create a new world, but to provide us with an insight into human nature by comparing us to our contempories on this new world (which is not Frank Herbert's purpose in Dune). Accept each book for what it is.
Do I recommend the trilogy? Probably not. Why? I was hurrying to get through it. I found the commentary a bit trying towards the end of each book (it also interrupted the flow of the story) and so I started skipping through it without thinking, endeavouring to continue with the storyline - which wasn't very impressive.