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Helliconia Spring (Helliconia Trilogy, Book 1) Paperback – 25 Feb 2001

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: ibooks Inc; Reprint edition (25 Feb. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743444728
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743444729
  • Product Dimensions: 13.6 x 2.7 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,918,248 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Aldiss's father ran a department store that his grandfather had established, and the family lived above it. At the age of 6, Brian was sent to board at West Buckland School in Devon, which he attended until his late teens. In 1943, he joined the Royal Signals regiment, and saw action in Burma; his encounters with tropical rainforests at that time may have been at least a partial inspiration for Hothouse, as his Army experience inspired the Horatio Stubbs second and third books.

After World War II, he worked as a bookseller in Oxford. Besides short science fiction for various magazines, he wrote a number of short pieces for a booksellers trade journal about life in a fictitious bookshop, and this attracted the attention of Charles Monteith, an editor at the British publishers Faber and Faber. As a result of this, Aldiss's first book was The Brightfount Diaries (1955), a novel in diary form about the life of a sales assistant in a bookshop.
In 1955, The Observer newspaper ran a competition for a short story set in the year 2500, which Aldiss won with a story entitled "Not For An Age". The Brightfount Diaries had been a minor success, and Faber asked Aldiss if he had any more writing that they could look at with a view to publishing. Aldiss confessed to being a science fiction author, to the delight of the publishers, who had a number of science fiction fans in high places, and so his first science fiction book, a collection of short stories entitled Space, Time and Nathaniel was published. By this time, his earnings from writing equalled the wages he got in the bookshop, so he made the decision to become a full-time writer.
He was voted the Most Promising New Author at the World Science Fiction Convention in 1958, and elected President of the British Science Fiction Association in 1960. He was the literary editor of the Oxford Mail newspaper during the 1960s. Around 1964 he and his long-time collaborator Harry Harrison started the first ever journal of science fiction criticism, Science Fiction Horizons, which during its brief span of two issues published articles and reviews by such authors as James Blish, and featured a discussion among Aldiss, C. S. Lewis, and Kingsley Amis in the first issues, and an interview with William S. Burroughs in the second.

Besides his own writings, he has had great success as an anthologist. For Faber he edited Introducing SF, a collection of stories typifying various themes of science fiction, and Best Fantasy Stories. In 1961 he edited an anthology of reprinted short science fiction for the British paperback publisher Penguin Books under the title Penguin Science Fiction. This was remarkably successful, going into numerous reprints, and was followed up by two further anthologies, More Penguin Science Fiction (1963), and Yet More Penguin Science Fiction (1964). The later anthologies enjoyed the same success as the first, and all three were eventually published together as The Penguin Science Fiction Omnibus (1973), which also went into a number of reprints. In the 1970s, he produced several large collections of classic grand-scale science fiction, under the titles Space Opera (1974), Space Odysseys (1975), Galactic Empires (1976), Evil Earths (1976), and Perilous Planets (1978) which were quite successful. Around this time, he edited a large-format volume Science Fiction Art (1975), with selections of artwork from the magazines and pulps.
In response to the results from the planetary probes of the 1960s and 1970s, which showed that Venus was completely unlike the hot, tropical jungle usually depicted in science fiction, he and Harry Harrison edited an anthology Farewell, Fantastic Venus!, reprinting stories based on the pre-probe ideas of Venus. He also edited, with Harrison, a series of anthologies The Year's Best Science Fiction (1968-1976?)

Brian Aldiss also invented a form of extremely short story called the Minisaga. The Daily Telegraph hosted a competition for the best Minisaga for several years and Aldiss was the judge.[2] He has edited several anthologies of the best Minisagas.

He traveled to Yugoslavia, where he met Yugoslav fans in Ljubljana, Slovenia; he published a travel book about Yugoslavia; he published an alternative-history fantasy story about Serbian kings in the Middle Ages; and he wrote a novel called The Malacia Tapestry, about an alternative Dalmatia.

He has achieved the honor of "Permanent Special Guest" at ICFA, the conference for the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts, which he attends annually.

He was awarded the title of Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to literature in HM Queen Elizabeth II's Birthday Honours list, announced on 11 June 2005.

In January 2007 he appeared on Desert Island Discs. His choice of record to 'save' was Old Rivers sung by Walter Brennan, his choice of book was John Halpern's biography of John Osborne, and his luxury a banjo. The full selection of eight favourite records is on the BBC website .

On 1 July 2008 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Liverpool in recognition of his contribution to literature.

In addition to a highly successful career as a writer, Aldiss is also an accomplished artist whose abstract compositions or 'isolées' are influenced by the work of Giorgio de Chirico and Wassily Kandinsky. His first solo exhibition The Other Hemisphere was held in Oxford, UK, in August-September 2010, and the exhibition's centrepiece 'Metropolis' has since been released as a limited edition fine art print.

Product Description


"- "Science fiction has never before had this grandeur."-Times Literary Supplement - "Brian Aldiss's towering imagination places his Helliconia trilogy far above standard science fiction."-Daily Mail

About the Author

Brian Aldiss began his enormously successful career as a bookseller in Oxford before becoming Literary Editor of the Oxford Mail. His two outspoken and best-selling novels, The Hand-Reared Boy and A Solider Erect, established his reputation, which was soon enhanced by a psychedelic novel of European dimensions, Barefoot in the Head. He is also the author of a Gothic adventure, Frankenstein Unbound, a space opera, The Eighty-Minute Hour, a remarkable opus entitled The Malacia Tapestry and an epic extravaganza illustrated by Mike Wilks, Pile. But his fame, built up over many years, is as one of the most innovative, prolific and popular writers of science fiction of our day. His most recent books in this field have been Last Orders and Other Stories; Enemies of the System, which Anthony Burgess described in the Observer as 'rich, allusive, full of real people and unfailingly interesting'; New Arrivals, Old Encounters and Moreau's Other Island. Now Brian Aldiss has gone beyond the normal parameters of science fiction. Helliconia Spring is the first volume of a gigantic new odyssey, introducing an entire planetary system: to use the term coined by H. G. Wells, a magnificent 'scientific romance'. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A. Whitehead TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 25 May 2010
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.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 28 April 2006
Format: Paperback
Why the Helliconia trilogy is not better known and more highly regarded is beyond me. Collectively and individually, the three books are Aldiss' best.

Even though I have given Vol. I five stars, it is the weakest of the three. This is because the first third of it is a little slow. A casual reader unaware of how good the story is going to get might well give up on it.

The other weakness - it seems to me - is that the revival of human society as the world warms up occurs too quickly. Embruddock goes from village to city in only a few years.

Regardless, this is a beautifully written book. It doesn't quite match the febrile epic "Summer", or the magnificent desolation of "Winter", but nevertheless is an exceptional novel by sci-fi standards, and the first volume of a trilogy exceptional by any standards.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By W. Robinson on 6 Jun. 2010
Format: Paperback
For quite a few years I have seen this one on the shelf, the first part of a trilogy. It always looked quite long and daunting to me, so I never quite got around to buying it. But a short time ago I saw it on the shelf of the Oxfam shop, so I took the plunge, and I am glad I did so.

I have read so many fiction books over the years, but let's face it, not many of them had me literally gasping with excitement. The ones that did include The Mote in God's Eye, Watership Down, The Lord of the Rings (the book, not the rubbishy movies!) but few others. But Helliconia Spring now joins the ranks of those that did so! It is a rich, compelling and vivid story. A marvellous book.

You may say, if it's that good, why have I not given it five stars? Well, the only slight criticism I have of Helliconia Spring is the inclusion of the stuff about the orbiting spacecraft, studying the planet. I'm afraid I found those bits rather distracting and dislocating. The story was already quite good enough, and did not need this extra dimension in my humble opinion.

That said, it is a wonderful book. The sheer rich, vivid nature of the story had me hooked, and I could not put it down. A magnificent setting (a planet in a double-star system), prodigious invention of strange life-forms on the planet, vivid human characters, high adventure, and a great story from start to finish. I say finish, but this is of course only the first part of the trilogy! I will definitely be buying the next one fairly soon.

A word of warning - the story is fairly brutal and gory at times. If it was made into a movie, it would be a certificate 18 for sure. But what a story! Aldiss certainly knows how to keep his readers on the edge of their seats. I can recommend this book to anyone who likes a great adventure tale.
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4 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 3 Feb. 2001
Format: Paperback
This is the second time I have read Helliconia Spring and I must say, it grows on you. Although I have not read the entire trilogy, I find that there are all too many characters which do not go anywhere. Aldiss's descriptions of the landscape, the sentiels, this entirely alternative and possible world Helliconia are at times poetic, as things themselves they hold a life of their own, from the trees that grow on top of geothermal mounds to the animal life. Yet the characters themselves only develop superficially, and there presence becomes superflous at times. There are many plot cliff-hangers which do not lead anywhere (at least in the first book) and occasionally character interaction is clumsy, perhaps a little trite. This is rather disappointing in contrast to some of the lyrical descriptive passages. On the whole, a good read, and certainly well worth the time spent on the 500+ pages, but lacking in plot direction.
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