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Helliconia Trilogy Hardcover – May 1985

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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Atheneum (May 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689115660
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689115660
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.2 x 9.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 Kg
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x99b9db58) out of 5 stars 39 reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x99bbdb04) out of 5 stars Best sci fi world ever created June 14 2014
By philnc - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I first read the Helliconia books many years ago in a second-hand paperback, since it was out of print by then. The main character in these books is not a person, but a planet. The author presents an incredibly detailed picture of that planet and its inhabitants as the struggle to survive over thousands of years in which living conditions go from extreme to extreme. Helliconia is a planet that orbits a moderately warm star, that in turn orbits a hot companion whose comings and goings results in conditions on the planet going from freezing cold to unbearably scorching hot over a thousands of years. During the centuries long winter humans survive as best they can under ground, and then re-emerge in the "spring" to struggle against a powerful but primitive non-human race who rule the winter but then give way when warmth returns and allows humans to flourish again. Physics, biology, anthropology, psychology and politics are all in play as humans first struggle against their non-human adversaries, and then each other. The only sci fi series that comes close to Helliconia is Dune, another of my favorites, but I'd argue that between the two this is far deeper and broader in scope. One intriguing theme is the loss and recovery of knowledge among the humans over each cycle and how it impacts the individuals the story follows (one of the most vivid examples of this involves the astronomical discoveries by the brilliant and headstrong Vry, whose survival in hostile times could determine the future of scientific development on her world). As the first in the series, Helliconia Spring is a good place to start immersing yourself in this world -- something I'd encourage you to do,
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x99bbdd50) out of 5 stars Not as slick or pacy as many science fiction/fantasy epics ... Aug. 2 2014
By Alf Fry - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
Not as slick or pacy as many science fiction/fantasy epics, Helliconia Spring is extraordinary in its breadth and depth. The concept of humans observing the inhabitants of another world from orbit, then transmitting this back to Earth foreshadowed the development of reality tv into the forms it has taken in recent years. The conceptualisation of a planet orbiting a sun which rotates around another sun so that, over centuries, there are huge seasonal changes that create changes in the physical form and colour of the world's flaura and fauna and even the human-like inhabitants and their society, politics, economy is grand. Helliconia Spring can be slow and ponderous in its style yet this actually gives it character. For science fiction that fascinates the earth scientist, sociologist or anthropologist in you, Helliconia Spring stands alongside, perhaps even above, works such as Isaac Asimov's Foundation Trilogy, Frank Herbert's Dune and Farrold Saxon's 'Where-Stand-All: Episodes in the Foundation of Hodrin Civilization.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x99bbdf90) out of 5 stars A masterpiece of science fiction May 25 2010
By A. Whitehead - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Yuli is a child of a hunter-gatherer family living under the light of two suns on the northern plains of Campannlat on the frigid, ice-wrapped planet of Helliconia. When his father is enslaved by the vicious phagors, Yuli is left alone. He finds his way to the subterranean city of Pannoval, where he prospers as a member of the priesthood. Tiring of torturing heretics and punishing renegades, he elects to flee the oppressive city with some like-minded allies, eventually founding the settlement of Oldorando some distance away.

Fifty years later, Yuli's descendants have conquered a larger town, renaming it Oldorando as well, and are prospering. Game is becoming more plentiful, the river is thawing and warmer winds are rising, even as the smaller sun, Freyr, grows larger in the sky. But with peace and plenty comes indolence and corruption, and the people of Oldorando find themselves bickering and feuding for power, even as a great crusade of phagors leaves their icy homes in the eastern mountains on a quest to slaughter as many humans as possible.

The great drama of life on Helliconia is observed from an orbiting Earth space station, the Avernus, the crew of which watch as Helliconia and its sun, Batalix, draw closer to the great white supergiant about which they revolve and the centuries-long winter comes to a violent end.

Helliconia Spring (originally published in 1982) is the first volume in Brian Aldiss' masterpiece, The Helliconia Trilogy. In this work, Aldiss has constructed the supreme achievement of science fiction worldbuilding: Helliconia, a planet located in a binary star system a thousand light-years distant from Earth. Batalix and Helliconia take 2,592 years to orbit Freyr in a highly elliptical orbit (Helliconia is three times further from Freyr at its most distant point than nearest), which results in seasons that last for centuries apiece. Helliconia's plants, animal and sentient lifeforms have all biologically adapted to this unusual arrangement (in a manner that prevents colonisation by Earthlings, who would be killed quickly by the planet's bacteria), but its civilisations have not adapted satisfactorily: humanity rises in the spring and becomes dominant in the summer before being toppled by the phagors in the autumn and enslaved in the winter. However, more evidence has survived of the previous cycle than normal, and this time around those humans who have discovered the truth have vowed to ensure that humanity will survive the next Great Winter triumphant over its ancestral enemy.

Helliconia Spring is a complex novel working on a literal storytelling level - the factional battles for control over Oldorando and Pannoval, the phagor crusade flooding across the continent and the search for truth and understanding of the Helliconian star system by Oldorando's scientists - and also on thematic ones, with Aldiss examining the struggles between religion and science, between those who thrive in peace and those who thrive in war and the duality of winter and summer, humanity and phagor, and though the religious ritual of pauk, between the living and the dead.

Having the orbital Earth platform is a good idea, as it gives us a literal scientific understanding of the Helliconia system which those on the surface are struggling to understand, even if it does feel a little removed from the storyline at this time. Amongst other criticisms are a lack of character closure: whilst the grand history of Helliconia and the thematic elements continue to be explored in Helliconia Summer, the story itself moves on several hundred years, leaving the main characters of this book long dead. But these are outweighed by the strengths: the effective and impressive prose, the fantastic descriptions of a near-frozen planet thawing into life with its millions of species of plant and animal life waking up under the two suns and the impressive melding of cold, impersonal scientific worldbuilding with a satisfying plot and vividly-described characters.

Helliconia Spring (*****) is a masterpiece of science fiction and features the single most impressive work of SF worldbuilding to date. The novel is available now in the USA. A new omnibus edition of the entire trilogy will be published by Gollancz as part of the SF Masterworks collection on 12 August 2010.
34 of 43 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x99bc0228) out of 5 stars Frank Herbert eat your heart out Feb. 19 1999
By Michael Battaglia - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The fact that this series is not in print is almost criminal, probably because Aldiss is British or something. But for those who haven't heard of perhaps the greatest science-fiction series ever to be written, the Heliconnia series was Aldiss' attempt at a world building on the scale of Dune, but at the same time using it to make a commentary on his feelings about current society. Lofty goals but the beauty of it is that it never feels like he's overextending himself, everything feels natural and the book never deviates from Aldiss' calm, almost Arthur Clarke like narration, though his use of metaphor is much better than the more hard science oriented Clarke. For those coming in late, Aldiss envisioned Heliconnia as a Earth like planet with one big difference, really really really long seasons. The planet takes about 2500 years to orbit so each generation effectively notices only one season. In the first book he shows the end of winter and the reawakening of civilization, a cycle that has gone by many times without anyone realizing it. In the beginning the book is almost standard Tolkein stuff, fantasy but just when you think that Aldiss has gone into sword and sorcery, it throws in a bit with Earth having set up an orbiting space station to watch the planet, reminding you that above all this is a science-fiction story. If you can find even one book of this series used, snap it up as fast as you can, or just swamp a publisher with requests to put it back into print. Like Moorcock's Cornelius series, this is one that deserves to be out there for everyone to read.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x99bc051c) out of 5 stars Fantastic Series! Feb. 20 2015
By T98 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
If you like sweeping sci-fi epics, The Helliconia Trilogy is for you. This series incorporates astronomy, ecology, anthropology, and insights into human nature all on the extreme climate world of Helliconia.

In a centuries-long spring, human civilization stirs once again, emerging from slavery to the Phagors, the other intelligent race on Helliconia that flourishes in the winter. Human civilization grows as it has many times in the planet's 2,600-year cycle. We see key personalities involved, though the last gasp of Phagor dominance has not died out just yet.

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