Set on the Earth-like planet Helliconia, this is an epic chronicling the rise and fall of a civilization over more than a thousand years.
The great drama of life on Helliconia is shaped by its cosmic limitations. In fierce contrasts of climate, whole seasons last for centuries and civilizations rise and fall as the planet orbits the giant sun Freyr every 3000 years.
Brian Wilson Aldiss is one of the most important voices in science-fiction writing today. He wrote his first novel while working as a bookseller in Oxford. Shortly afterwards he wrote his first work of science fiction and soon gained international recognition. Adored for his innovative literary techniques, evocative plots and irresistible characters, he became a Grand Master of Science Fiction in 1999. Brian Aldiss recently celebrated his 80th birthday and is still writing, to ardent applause.
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Right book, wrong narrator
English Ian almost got it right I feel, but arguably for the wrong reasons. Having read the book, I know that Ian's phagor 'Mike' is actually 'Myk', always pronounced in my mind as 'Mick. Which also sounds a wee bit prosaic, if you stop to think about it.
But that's not the point here. What is the point is that this towering epic, set on a gritty snow-bound planet where death waits round every corner and only the hardiest and most resourceful survive, felt like it was being narrated by Bertie Wooster as he took iced-tea on a Surrey lawn! Talk about a passion-killer...
So, knowing what a classic novel Helliconia Spring actually is, and having shelled out some hard currency to boot, I felt compelled to listen to the entire audiobook. It was a terrible struggle and on numerous occasions it almost broke me. But I persevered and lived to write this review. Barely.
My advice: if it's still in print, and if you feel that this kind of thing might be your bag (and it is still an awesome read by a brilliant author and man of science) then buy it. Or if it's available for book readers, buy it that way!
This is probably herecy but I felt that it was written and read with the passion of a 1950s government information film.
Maybe if I'd grow up with Aldiss rather than Asimov (and his straight faced sexism) I'd feel more fondly towards this but the first time I felt any emotion was when laughing out loud at a Phagor turned out to be called Mike.