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The Hand-Reared Boy (Independent Voices) Paperback – 2 Sep 1999

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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Souvenir Press Ltd; New Ed edition (2 Sept. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0285635166
  • ISBN-13: 978-0285635166
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 1.3 x 13.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 196,828 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


So filthy, I read it with the door of my office closed, as if afraid of being caught. --Rachel Cooke, The Observer

A very funny and a very decent book... unless laughter is corrupting, it s not going to corrupt anyone. --Robert Nye, The Guardian

A heart-wrenching love story… The first British novel to explore sexuality in such a frank and honest way. --Forum

About the Author

Brian Aldiss is most famous as a science fiction novelist and anthologist, and has been a bestselling novelist since the 1950 s.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 50 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 28 July 2000
Format: Paperback
Despite the fact that this book is based at the turn of the last century, nothing has really changed with boys ripening into puberty. This book deals candidly with a boy discovering about his sexuality & masturbation, both on his own, with his brother (and sister for that matter), and with his classmates within an all boys boarding school. It then follows through into his early manhood and into the losing of his virginity although, as in real life, continues to experience the joys of masturbation. Although explicit in every detail, and perhaps not for anyone who is easily offended, The Hand Reared Boy has the ring of a true story that most adult males can relate to. It is bawdy, hilarious, and at times extremely erotic. However, this is an excellent example of the difference between erotica and pornography.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Tommy Dooley TOP 50 REVIEWER on 31 Jan. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
At the time it was seen as extremely sexually challenging, touching on the taboo of sex at a public school and not just between the boys but the staff too! Rachel Cooke of The Observer said of it "So filthy, I read it with the door of my office closed, as if afraid of being caught." Well, that was then and it is far from as shocking to the modern reader than it was in it's day, alas.

It tells the story of Horatio Stubbs an upper middle class boy who gets sent to public school to be `improved'. He had already begun the not so innocent sexual experiments of youth and thus his entrance into public school life was fairly well paved.

This is essentially a love story where the love is necessarily hidden like a light, under the proverbial bushel. Aldiss fills the story with period anecdotes and the sort of detail that resonates with a true auto biography and the sort of home spun wisdom that just isn't spun enough anymore, such as "learning to distinguish between facts and fantasies is one of the most vital arts that separates childhood from adulthood. Some people - politicians, actors, the mentally sick - never acquire the art."

So why only 4 stars, well it is very much of its time and I adore it for that but it seemed to be positioned as some sort of sexually enlightening novel that is still risqué by today's standard, but it is most definitely not, it is also really short but that said, this is really quality and not quantity and if you approach it as a semi (forgive the pun) auto biographical love story told in a humorous way, then you will not be disappointed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By RAY on 12 Feb. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This was mentioned in a article recently and reminded me that I had read it in my youth but could not remember it - so good old Amazon - I hit the Kindle trail and there it was - so re-read it (did not remember it well) and enjoyed it!
It has its own time travel charm - probably appreciated by older readers who were familiar with the time (1970s) it was conceived.
I will now look for "soldier erect" the continuation of the boys story.
Probably this reminder of Aldiss will get me reading him again.
Thank you Brian.
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Format: Paperback
This book is a very good read of the struggles with adolescent experiences around the time of the war and conflicting Victorian attitudes of parents and their belief responses
I could not put the book down as people say and sorry when I came to the end not without a few giggles I must say because us boys have all experienced something similar to the events of frustration and heart break and just not knowing what to do !
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By PeeBee TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 31 Aug. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Aldiss' book is best known for lifting the lid on the lights-out goings-on at public schools, but there is far more to the Hand Reared Boy than that. The main protagonist, Horatio, is depicted in the first person. His candour is both amusing and at times, shocking. Horatio indulges in layman's psychology, but does so knowingly and with some lack of respect for the science. Nonetheless, this helps to paint his characters with great depth.

Horatio tells of his recollections of growing up, his constant fascination with corporeal pleasures and his first great love. The narrative is provided long after the original events and so the narrator is able to use his life experiences to understand the other characters better. What seemed like slights to him as a teenager can now be seen with greater empathy.

Although the greater part of the book explores Horatio's relentless pursuit of someone... anyone... to help bring him pleasure, it is neither gratuitous nor pornographic - certainly not by today's standards.

Horatio is born to a middle class family and grows up around the time of WWII, his father having served in WWI. There are strong hints at the dysfunctional family and his mother's psychological problems. His family employs servants and aspires to ever higher social standing. All of these factors: mental illness, class, the treatment of the servants, the social climbing, public school life and the demands on the populace in times of war, are fascinating and provide the story with a depth that lasts well beyond the first reading.

The Hand Reared Boy is a compelling coming of age story as well as a view into a time not so long ago, but increasingly out of reach, covering the turmoils of living through WWII, the sexual revolution and the very significant change in class politics. Horatio's growth is not only sexual, but also emotional and that is what gives this book more substance than might first seem apparent.
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