To his friend Frederik Pohl Brian Aldiss owes the first publication in the US of his science fiction.1 His work has much of the astringency of Pohl’s, and like him he is an expert in the finely-tuned short story of which he has similarly published about as many collections as novels — though with Aldiss both types have been produced throughout his career. But his imagination is on the whole much freer than Pohl’s — where Pohl will carefully document the physical changes necessary to turn a man into a cyborg capable of survival in the bleak environment of Mars, Aldiss will create aliens who live happily in their own excrement, or a fantastic vision of the end-time world of Earth or of travel into the remote past. Aldiss, like Clifford Simak, who was also brought up in a rural environment, loves the portrayal of landscapes,2 where the environment of Pohl’s work and of much science fiction tends to be urban or a construct. (In Non-Stop (1958) Aldiss turns a star-ship into a jungle.) Much of Aldiss’s work, like Pohl’s, is satiric: but the objects of his satire are less particular, more philosophic — not the power of advertising, the dangers of scientific meddling, the perils of consumerism, the menace of racial prejudice, but rather the divided psyche of modern man from which these spring.
KeywordsEntropy Cage Explosive Bark Conglomerate
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- 7.Aldiss, Hothouse (London: Sphere Books, 1971) p. 9. Page references in the text are to this edition.Google Scholar