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Brian Aldiss (Brian Wilson Aldiss) Biography

(1925– ), (Brian Wilson Aldiss), Space, Time, and Nathaniel: Presciences, NonStop, Hothouse

British writer, born in East Dereham, Norfolk, educated at Framlingham College and East Buckland College. He served in the Royal Signals during 19437, an experience which generated more than one book. He is best known for his science fiction works and his involvement in science fiction as a literary genre. His early publications include the fine stories collected in Space, Time, and Nathaniel: Presciences (1957); the novel NonStop (1958), set in the closed world of a slower-than-light starship; and Hothouse (1962), a set of linked tales set in the tropical fecundity of a dying Earth—fecundity and death recur in much of his work. Aldiss published essays and reviews from the 1950s and became an unofficial spokesman in the world of letters for the science fiction genre. He eloquently demonstrated its potential and its accomplishments in many anthologies, in collections of essays, such as This World and Nearer Ones (1979) and The Pale Shadow of Science (1985), and in Billion Year Spree (1973), much expanded (with David Wingrove) as Trillion Year Spree (1986), a perceptive history of the genre. In this book, and in the novel Frankenstein Unbound (1973), he argued that science fiction properly began with Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1819), at the point where Romance met the scientific/industrial revolution. Intense, bleak novels of the early 1960s, such as The Dark Light Years (1964), Greybeard (1964), and Earthworks (1965), were succeeded by a trio of formal and linguistic experiments in An Age (1967), Report on Probability A (1968), and Barefoot in the Head (1969), which consciously applied Joycean experimentation in its depiction of a drug-fuelled war. The Malacia Tapestry (1976) parodies the aristocratic, entropy-choked cityscapes of the far future; Moreau's Other Island (1980) develops the theme of H. G. Wells's The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896); and in the Helliconia trilogy (Helliconia Spring, 1982; Helliconia Summer, 1983; Helliconia Winter, 1985) he constructed a world on an enormous scale transforming it into a forum for the dramatic representation of humans rooted in time, circumstance, entropy, and death. Among his many collections of stories are The Canopy of Time (1959), The Airs of Earth (1963), The Saliva Tree (1966), The Moment of Eclipse (1970), Last Orders (1977), Seasons in Flight (1984), and A Tupolev Too Far (1993); and the two omnibus collections Man in His Time (1988) and A Romance of the Equator (1989). Non-generic novels include The Hand-Reared Boy (1970), Life in the West (1980), and Somewhere East of Life (1994). Bury My Heart at W H Smith's (1990) is a literary memoir.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: 110A Piccadilly to Nelson Algren Biography