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43 of 43 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Improves with age....
A reread this one. Gollancz have republished this huge tome (1328 pages) as part of their SF Masterworks branding, of which this is number 80.

I did read them back in the 1980's when they were released as three separate books: Helliconia Spring, Helliconia Summer and Helliconia Winter, in 1982, 1983 and 1985 respectively. Hereafter I'm going to see them as...
Published on 17 Jan 2011 by M. Yon

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Life is too short
This book just goes on and one. And then on some more. I enjoy Sci Fi with a broad sweep, but this is ridiculous. Characters live and die. Seasons and then centuries pass. Cities rise and fall. Stuff happens. Then more stuff. I admire Aldiss's imagination but after a while I just stopped caring. Maybe one day I'll finish it.
Published 3 months ago by D. Goldstone


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43 of 43 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Improves with age...., 17 Jan 2011
By 
M. Yon - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Helliconia: Helliconia Spring, Helliconia Summer, Helliconia Winter: "Hellonica Spring", "Helliconia Summer", "Helliconia Winter" (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
A reread this one. Gollancz have republished this huge tome (1328 pages) as part of their SF Masterworks branding, of which this is number 80.

I did read them back in the 1980's when they were released as three separate books: Helliconia Spring, Helliconia Summer and Helliconia Winter, in 1982, 1983 and 1985 respectively. Hereafter I'm going to see them as one book, which is for all intents and purposes is how they read, as a uniform body of work (albeit in three parts.)
At the time of original writing they were a surprise, if I remember right. Here was a writer known for his SF writing (Hothouse, Greybeard, Report on Probability A, etc) writing what seemed (at first) to be a fantasy.

And if I remember right, a glacially slow series. Which made them a little disappointing.

However, there is an SF element to the books. For those who don't know, Helliconia is a planet. The tales are told from the perspective of the inhabitants as they go through the world's seasons. The twist in the tale here is that the seasons are very long: centuries long, long enough for species to live and die within one season, and especially in the long, cruel, bitter winters.

As the tale unfolds the perspective is drawn further back to the point where we realise that all that is being told is actually part of a planetary research report from the Earth ship Avernus. It is here that the reader discovers that, as part of a binary star system, all / most life on Helliconia will be extinguished. Much of the books are spent in the debate over whether Humans should interfere with the rise and fall of civilisations on the planet, which is an interesting counterpoint to what goes on in the research ship and on Earth.

We meet a variety of people/creatures on this journey: In Helliconia Spring, Yuli is a humanoid hunter-gatherer, one of the Freyr, who, as the world reawakens, we find experiences the development of an urban civilisation. Helliconia Spring tells of Yuli and his descendants as Helliconia Winter turns to Spring and the Freyr develop from hunters to urban dwellers. By the second book we have the dominance of the human-like species in a fantasy setting. We also encounter more about the Phagors, a Morlock-like furred white humanoid species, who begin in Helliconia Spring as seemingly simple hunters and carry off Yuri's father. As the story deepens, however, in Summer and Winter we find that they have a richer background and culture and seem to have been on Helliconia long before the emergence of the human-like dominant species. The fantasy feel is quite strong as we discover about their lifestyles. To confirm this further, there's even a dragon-like creature, the Wutra's Worm, with an enormous lifespan.

The book is a case study in world-building: evidently Aldiss spent time with physicists, astronomers, ecologists, climatologists, sociologists and microbiologists in creating a credible environment. Most importantly (according to Aldiss's introduction) is Lovelock's idea of Gaia, once fairly new in the 1980's, and now seems to be increasingly plausible Perhaps, as a result, this book doesn't seem as way out as it did when I first read it, though just as epic and majestic. Part of the joy of this book is to see how the world changes through the seasons and how the landscape and landforms adapt accordingly.

In the style of Olaf Stapledon's First and Last Men, or some of HG Wells' work, this book is perhaps the ultimate planetary romance, and deliberately so. In such a framework the writer writes as an observer rather than as part of the narrative. Consequently, the book seems written in a rather detached style. Though this can give a feeling of weight and gravity to the long tale, it can also create a coolness that distances the reader from the world and creatures within. They are being studied rather than interacted with.

In the 25 years or so since originally reading this, I now see where Aldiss is going. It is his view on civilisations, their ability to grow and decline and the causes and effects of such development. It also raises the question of whether in the grand scheme of things Mankind in the future may be worth preserving.
Though it is still slow to develop, it is surprisingly engaging. Do not expect it to be a fast-paced romp. Instead, it is a book where you expect to be immersed and be slowly awakened to the opportunities within.

It may be my greater age and experience, it may be that in these days of global warming and biomes the world's just caught up with the concepts herein. However this was a much more satisfying read second time around. And good to see the background details given as Appendices here too.

Consequently, very much recommended.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Helliconia series, 25 May 2012
By 
Mrs. Penelope J. Jaquet (Cheltenham UK) - See all my reviews
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Since I have bought my Kindle I have decided to put on it some of the books I consider a must to have, and Helliconia is one of these. I read the three parts of the Helliconia trilogy many years ago when I was a teenager, and now I have come back to it in my fifties a lot more of it has become understandable. The Winter section is I think the best of all of them. There is an immediacy of the characters, and Yuli's experiences are vivid and clear. It is his family we seem to follow, and each generation as the seasons gradually change are affected by all the failings and flaws of any people. The last section I found tended to drift away from the subject of Helliconia and concentrate on the satellite station that was in fact observing the ebb and flow of the planet below them, and I would rather have had more about the Helliconians themselves. It is for this reason I have deducted a star, but I know that I shall go back and read it again because it is so vast a project that there is always something to see that you missed last time.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Landmark SF, 10 Oct 2013
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I read this wonderful trilogy when it first appeared and was bowled over by it. Now I've encountered it again and found my memory had not let me down. A dizzying concept, a coherent and profound vision of an alternative world, characters so fantastic and imaginatively realised as to be completely convincing and yet at once recognisable for the human types they parallel. There is a serious message here for our own world to heed. This must be among the greatest artistic and literary creations of the twentieth century
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A world apart, 5 Jan 2013
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I first read this sci-fy trilogy as library books years ago and was sad when it came to an end. I was happy to have the opportunity to re-read it on my kindle and am enjoying it just as much second time around. This vast epic covers generations on the distant world of Helliconia which is similar to earth but also different enough to require you to use your imagination a bit.. As the planet moves through its extreme orbital cycle both the environment and its inhabitants hae to change and evolve in order to survive. Although the story sometimes ebbs and flows through different time-frames you get to know the characters and empathise with the challenges they face in their ever changing world.
Highly recommended.for a nice long read..
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Epic Story, 16 Oct 2013
By 
Miss bookworm (Poole, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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If you like a long absorbing read this is for you. It is by one of the greats of late twentieth century science fiction, Well written and detailed. I have read it several times and have discovered something new each time. Than you Amazon for making these classic books available in a very "Sci Fi" format.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great heroic fantasy, 2 Oct 2013
By 
reader 451 - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Helliconia: Helliconia Spring, Helliconia Summer, Helliconia Winter: "Hellonica Spring", "Helliconia Summer", "Helliconia Winter" (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
The Helliconia series are an SF trilogy in name only. The premise might be a classic SF hypothesis: a world circles two suns, causing extreme variations in the climate to accumulate several centuries at a time. But it is so improbable otherwise - humans live on Helliconia, and they are supposed to have evolved there naturally and independently from Earth - that it is best disregarded. There is also an observation station over Helliconia manned by people from Earth, but what happens there takes only a tiny portion of the narrative. And lastly, the part of the plot that deals with Earth, marginal as it is, forms the excuse, in Helliconia Winter, for such pontificating and ideological cramming by the author that I found it best ignored. Aldiss would indeed like us to agree that man must live in harmony with the perfect system that is nature, that technology is evil, and so forth - yet quite apart from the objection that this is preachy and poor fiction, the point is ruined by the fate of his own characters on Helliconia, who almost all live in terrible conditions and meet early, violent deaths.

Enough complaining, though: the Helliconia trilogy is filled with great stories, it is written in Aldiss's fine style, and it is an impressively imaginative work. Aldiss aims to conjure an entirely different yet coherent world, complete with its own animal and sentient species, its unique geography and flora, and its fluctuating political systems, cultures, and religions. And it is all driven by the planet's peculiar climatic conditions and extremely long seasons. I would recommend breaking between the three novels, as they are long and each involve multiple plots, but you are otherwise sure to finish this. The strength of the Helliconia trilogy is in its story-telling which, because the humans on the planet never rise above a late-medieval technological level, effectively forms a long heroic-fantasy epic. I was initiated to Aldiss with Non-Stop, which is a very different work, but am definitely planning to read more by the same author.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An epic, 12 April 2013
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Couldn't put this down, despite it's epic size! The ideas are brilliant and the characters fantastic. Would highly recommend this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My All-time SF Favourite, 29 Jan 2014
This review is from: Helliconia: Helliconia Spring, Helliconia Summer, Helliconia Winter: "Hellonica Spring", "Helliconia Summer", "Helliconia Winter" (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
I recently took this trilogy on holiday, not having read it for many years. I was immediately transported into a wonderful world, a bit flawed and not entirely believable, but a warmly human world, full of Aldiss humour and compassion, a majestic sweep of generations living and dying on a planet of extremes.

There are so many haunting memories. Amazing animals and the complex relationships between them; clashing religious institutions; the loss of knowledge as winter takes hold, and amazing rebirth in spring. The subtlety and power of the writing puts this far ahead of (for example) Herbert's Dune or KS Robinson's Mars series, excellent though these are.

This is the masterwork by one of Britain's (and therefore the World's) greatest SF writers. Aldiss is or was (because he's old now) in the same class as, and more prolific than, Roberts and Priest, and better, more subtle and inventive than Clarke.

Like a lifetime on the Great Wheel of Kharnabhar, I feel I could read this trilogy cyclically forever, gaining wisdom with each turn.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Story on a grand scale, 29 July 2013
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The trilogy is long enough to develop characters, their relationships and the struggle for survival and understanding in an ever changing environment.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Life is too short, 8 Sep 2014
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This book just goes on and one. And then on some more. I enjoy Sci Fi with a broad sweep, but this is ridiculous. Characters live and die. Seasons and then centuries pass. Cities rise and fall. Stuff happens. Then more stuff. I admire Aldiss's imagination but after a while I just stopped caring. Maybe one day I'll finish it.
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