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Hothouse Paperback – 2 Oct 2000

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Product details

  • Paperback: 269 pages
  • Publisher: House of Stratus; New edition edition (2 Oct. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0755100603
  • ISBN-13: 978-0755100606
  • Product Dimensions: 20.2 x 13.4 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,504,191 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

About the Author

Brian W. Aldiss (1925 - ) Brian Wilson Aldiss was born in 1925. He is a highly decorated science fiction author who has achieved the rare feat of acceptance as a writer of real significance by the literary establishment in his lifetime. As well as his many award-winning novels he has been a hugely important anthologist and editor in the field. He also wrote the pre-eminent history of the genre (with David Wingrove), Billion Year Spree (later expanded and revised as Trillion Year Spree). He lives in Oxford. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Osbourne Ruddock on 6 Nov. 2003
Format: Paperback
This book is similar in some ways to J G Ballard`s book `The Drowned World` which was published the same year (1963). Both novels are set in a future in which life on our earth is returning to a Triassic past, where plantlife and vegetation has taken over as the dominant form of life. Both novels also clearly show an interest in the ideas of the psychologist Carl Jung, and in particular his belief that within the unconcious mind of every human being there lies a collective subconcious memory which stretches way back through our entire human history.
But whereas Ballard`s novel is set in the very near future, Hothouse is set millions of years in the future, and the ecological change and increased climate is a natural process caused by the inevitable expansion of our sun as it reaches its final stages before extinction. Also, Aldiss`s world is a far more more threatening place than Ballard`s. It`s a hostile and impossibly crowded world where lifeforms are in brutal competition for survival and most animals and humans are virtualy extinct. The increased heat and radiation from the sun has resulted in the domination of plant and vegetable life over all other forms of life. The few remaining humans live mainly in the middle branches of the great Banyan tree which thickly covers the entire contenent, because to set foot on the decaying forest floor would usually entail being digested by some predatory and carnivoures plantlife. And in fact the term `falling to the green` has become a common term for death.
Aldiss has filled this terrifying but fascinating world with many strange and fantastic creatures, such as mutated plants and trees which have mimetisised into the forms of annimals which have become extinct such as birds and the octopuss.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John Moseley on 24 Aug. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I stumbled across this book whilst scanning the Penguin Modern Classics catalogue. It is a tale set in the immeasurable future when predatory vegetation has taken over the world and man has reverted to a primitive, tree-dwelling existence. It is a fantastically imaginative work, which was apparently received rather sniffily in some quarters because of the improbability of certain story elements, such as the earth and moon being in stationary orbit and connected by huge webs traversed by giant vegetable spiders. As Neil Gaiman says in his Introduction, such criticism is like saying the Beatles wrote songs that are three minutes long and have repeated choruses - it misses the point. Science fiction should be fantastical. Hothouse has the disorientating other-worldliness shared by works such as William Golding's The Inheritors. If that's your thing, Hothouse is highly recommended.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Darth Maciek TOP 500 REVIEWER on 31 Aug. 2007
Format: Hardcover
This was one of the first SF books I ever read and it is one of those which I will never forget.

We are mostly used to see ourselves as masters of our world, the alpha predators in the food chain and the gardeners of the planet. Well, this book offers a vision of a distant future in which Earth became much warmer and most humid and in consequence was covered by an incredibly complexe and dangerous jungle of giant plants (some trees are mountain like), populated with creatures such as enormous spiders and intelligent mushrooms. All civilization disappeared long ago and humans are now again hunters gatherers, trying to survive in this vegetal maze.

Food is of course not a problem - but predators are. In fact, this world is so dangerous that it is unlikely that without any technology humans could survive there - this is one of the weaker points of the book. However, the appeal of "Hothouse" is in its description of this terrifying and alien ecosystem and of its inhabitants. The plot - well, there is not much of a plot, but I was OK with it, considering, that this is not really the point in this book. Give it a try and you will be stunned by the imagination of Brian Aldiss - he managed to create one of the most incredible SF worlds.

It is a classic and a must for every SF fan.
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Format: Paperback
Millions of years in the future, on the branches of a continent-spanning banyan tree, the primitive descendants of mankind live precariously, preyed on by a colourful array of viscous plants. Fortunately for us, one small group of these neo-humans accidentally has an adventure that takes them on a tour of their very alien Earth.

Hothouse is a work of nihilism, pathos and humour. What impresses, though, is the fecundity of Aldiss's imagination, as he presents to us a multitude of exotic dangers and arresting images. It's not a perfect work: there is a bit of repetition, betraying its origin as a serial, and little of the exposition stands up to scrutiny. If you wish, you could drive a blue whale through the holes in Aldiss's logic, but where would the fun be in that?
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Aldiss creates a completely wacky distopian / sci fi world in Hothouse; one where plants have taken over the earth, and humans have been reduced to the easiest of prey...

A long but interesting read - I think Aldiss could have developed the characters more, I found I didn't much care what happened to them. I also felt the different communities they encountered along the way could have been described in more detail- particularly the tummy men.

I would recommend if you like distopian novels - however, it's no handmaid's tale / 1984... perhaps this is because the world and characters are so strange I couldn't connect with them.
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