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Aldiss, Brian

shelley mary humans human

(British, 1925– )

Aldiss served during the war in Burma and the Far East, before becoming a bookseller and eventually starting to write in the mid-1950s. He is a prolific exponent and defender of science fiction. Many of his novels and short stories verge on pastiche whilst simultaneously pushing the limits of the genre. The short story ‘Better Morphosis’ (1967) is narrated by a cockroach who finds he's turned into Kafka, while Frankenstein Unbound (1974) and The Eighty-Minute Hour (1974) can be read as homage to Mary Shelley and Philip K. Dick, respectively.

Moreau's Other Island (1980), ostensibly a tribute to H. G. Wells's classic, tells of the sabotage of a space capsule on its return from the moon which kills one person on impact and leaves three to drift on a life raft in the middle of the Pacific. The only one to survive is the US Under-Secretary of State, Calvert Roberts, who is washed up on a strange island whose inhabitants are humans disfigured by bizarre forms of bestiality. These are the results of elaborate experiments conducted by Mortimer Dart, a thalidomide victim with a fascination for human deformity. The plasticity of the human form also inspired Hothouse (1962) which laces together exotic tales set in a far-distant future where the sun is dying, humans have regressed, and the Earth is covered by a single banyan tree.

Mary Shelley, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Kurt Vonnegut  RP

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