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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A true classic of the field
I wish for this to remain a non-spoiler review. To give away anything of this story, would be a crime in my opinion.

The Greene Tribe live in relative ignorance, generally only aware of their own immediate surroundings, and meagre existence. For them to really consider where they are, is truly beyond them. This is until one of their kind - Roy Complain -...
Published on 12 Sept. 2006 by buckrichard@hotmail.com

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Non-Stop
[WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW...]

The idea of a `generation ship' had been kicking around in both scientific non-fiction and SF for quite a few years by 1958, when Brian Aldiss wrote the first novel-length treatment of the concept. Non-Stop concerns itself with several scavenging, semi-primitive tribes who inhabit a primordial jungle; the obvious mid-novel...
Published 22 months ago by TomCat


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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A true classic of the field, 12 Sept. 2006
This review is from: Non-Stop (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
I wish for this to remain a non-spoiler review. To give away anything of this story, would be a crime in my opinion.

The Greene Tribe live in relative ignorance, generally only aware of their own immediate surroundings, and meagre existence. For them to really consider where they are, is truly beyond them. This is until one of their kind - Roy Complain - decides to investigate beyond his dwellings.

A story can be very powerful when told in the right way. Non-Stop does this in a very well poised and paced manner. Although the book does start slowly, and really does not get going until about a quarter of the way through, the revelations brought upon the reader are truly shocking, with a long lasting effect. I was totally stunned by what Complain discovers. Shortly in, you find out why the book is called 'Non-Stop', and from that point, the shocks keep coming for Complain that turn his whole universe inside-out. He realises that for the whole of his life, and that of his tribe, they have been totally deceived, and that their whole existence is an age-old lie gone horribly wrong.

This is, in my opinion, Aldiss' finest work. Having read the majority of the Sci-Fi Masterworks series, amongst many others, this rates as one of the true greats of the genre. This book will get under your skin, and stay with you for a long, long time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Human, but not humane, 20 Sept. 2000
By 
S. J. C. Vossen-pelz (The Hague, The Netherlands) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Non-Stop (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
Roy Complain, a hunter, living in Quarters and thus a product of his upbringing, however, is not content, deep inside he always knew that there must be something more than his petty existance. Together with the priest Marapper he goes on a journey and as his knowledge grows, he changes and grows with it. I do not intend to give an outline of the story and thus spoil the pleasure of reading, or as I did, absorbing the book, not being able to turn the pages quickly enough to my liking. Like Roy I had to know what was going on and more importantly, where he was.
Brian Aldiss succeeds in portraying his characters realisticly, they are just like you and me, petty, always argueing about everything. However as the journey progresses, slowly but surely they change, especially Roy, who is capable of taking a step back and look at his situation objectively : P.92 : "He saw a parallel between the lives of the rats and the human lives emphasized in their man-like conduct of ill-treating a fellow creature, the rabbit. The rats survived where they could, giving no thought to the nature of their surroundings ; Complain could only say the same of himself until now."
It is a beautiful story, beautiful in a linguistic way, e.g. the first time Complain sees space, or the moment when he sees Laur's face caught in sunlight. But it is also a sad story, the struggle for life and in the end the harsh, cruel truth. In science man has made many discoveries and scienctific progress, unfortunately the human heart has not grown in the sense that would make it more humane. On the contrary, the human heart has evolved in a different direction. It has not grown warmer, but colder. I highly recommend this book!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lost in Space? A fine masterworks release., 23 Jun. 2001
By 
Mr. Paul J. Stephen (Leeds) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Non-Stop (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
This is a highly readable Sci-fi story. To a fair extent I agree that you do have a good idea how the story will pan out but this doesn't stop you feeling the pain and loss when the characters eventually find out the truth.
Aldiss keeps the reader on edge throughout and the motives are explored within the final pages. I found his writing constant throughout and you must be reminded that this is one of his first novels and published in the late fifties. The old lost in space storyline is there but I did enjoy the way the characters grew and the tale was pieced together.
This is another first class addition to the Masterworks library and an absolute must for all fans of the genre.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great approach to the 'generation starship', 27 Mar. 2010
By 
Andy Phillips (Leicestershire, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Non-Stop (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
As other reviewers have pointed out, a good portion of the story is given away in the blurb on the back of the book, or is obvious, but this still makes a good read. The story centres on Roy Complain (I'm not sure if the name has some meaning that I failed to grasp) and a small band of men from his settlement who set out to explore their surroundings. They come from a fairly primitive tribe who live in a jungle that clearly has man-made aspects. There are various rumours and half-forgotten myths about the origins of the tribe and Roy has always felt like there was something vital that he doesn't know.

During their travels the men come across various other inhabitants of the jungles, and eventually learn what they are and where they came from. This is done through a series of events that gradually reveal what's going on, but I personally found the last third or so of the story a bit of an unwelcome departure from the style of the beginning of the story. The ending in particular was, to be honest, a bit of a disappointment. There could have been any number of reasons for the tribe's circumstances, but the one chosen was a bit of an anti-climax in my opinion.

A good story, and worthy of inclusion in the SF Masterworks series, but not as good as some others in the collection.
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Aldiss evokes yet another strange and wonderful environment., 29 Jun. 2003
By 
C. Foster "sdolemelipone" (St. Helens, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Non-Stop (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
One thing is for sure in the field of Science Fiction; if you like your plate full of 'heroes' who are paragons of moral probity - Brian Wilson Aldiss is the author to give you a triple dose of stomach-churning indigestion.
Quite from where he draws inspiration for such spiteful, perfidious and yet deliciously appealing protagonists as those found in Non-Stop (not to mention his other works) is beyond me. And in all honesty - I don't really want to know.
Meet Roy Complain, member of the Greene tribe, a nomadic group of semi-primitives trapped aboard a malfunctioning generation star ship ploughing its way through the Universe. Roy's job is to forage for food throughout dark and foreboding corridors overrun by choking plant life.
Surprisingly enough, the members of the tribe appear completely oblivious to their actual predicament; the truth of their existence, and that of their environment, is shrouded in mystery - lost and corrupted over the centuries.
Only the fiercely redoubtable Father Henry Marapper suspects that there may be more to the 'world' than meets the eye, and when Roy's mate is abducted in the corridor jungles, the priest enlists the resourceful hunter for a dangerous trek into the unknown reaches of the spacecraft in search of answers.
Along for the journey come several other individuals who would appear to represent the absolute worst examples of humanity such as Wantage, hideously disfigured and the hopelessly psychotic, and Roffery, a brazenly corrupt meat salesman. Marapper himself, whilst being hugely entertaining, is a certifiable maniac with a penchant for dispending a brand of 'religion' that probably wouldn't be out of place during the Spanish Inquisition.
In all honesty, you'd be hard pressed to imagine this disparate group of quarrelsome lunatics ever reaching their goal, but after negotiating their way through the hazardous Deadways (populated by all manner of strange and terrifying creatures) that's exactly what some of them achieve. Of course, a major spanner is thrown into the works when it is discerned that the 'goals' weren't what they bargained for.
An excellent example of the classic 'conceptual breakthrough' SF novel, Non-Stop delivers twist after devilish twist, and whilst it's possibly not of the same calibre as Aldiss's masterwork 'Hothouse' (the narrative does tend to meander at times), it would be unfair to regard this novel as anything less than an insightful and thoroughly entertaining piece of work.
Recommended.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Generation Ship Classic, 5 Jan. 2007
This review is from: Non-Stop (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
Although not the first Generation Ship story to be written and certainly not the last, `Non Stop' is the book that stands head and shoulders above the rest.

David Pringle in his `100 Greatest Novels' acknowledges that Aldiss owes a debt to Heinlein's `Orphans of The Sky', a fix-up novel consisting of two novellas from the 1940s. The two books take the same basic premise, that a colony ship is launched from Earth, knowing that generations of humans will live and die within its hull before it reaches its destination. In each book, the knowledge of what the ship actually is has been lost and the descendants of the crew have reverted to a tribal existence while the ship ploughs on through space.

In contrast to Heinlein's escapist adventure however, Aldiss's vision is a darker one and succeeds, where Heinlein's doesn't, in making clear the vast distances between us and even the nearer suns in our galaxy.

We see the world of the Ship through the eyes of Complain, a young hunter whose tribe lives in Quarters. Long ago, a mutated hydroponics food plant has adapted to its surroundings and now grows everywhere, forming jungles on abandoned decks where pigs and insects thrive.

When Complain's woman is kidnapped by another tribe he is approached by Marapper, the tribe's priest, who is planning an expedition through the jungle-choked decks; an expedition to the mythical Forwards, where they may find the secret of what their world actually is.

It's a very sobering vision, since, like Wyndham, whose main novels were published only a few years before this, Aldiss refuses to provide any answers or a cosy conclusion.

What also separates this from Heinlein's work is that the characters have more of the bite of human reality about them. Most of the people we encounter are selfish to some degree and concerned for their own survival.

Aldiss very clearly show here humanity's propensity for ignorance, denial, acceptance of religious dogma without question, violence and self-destruction, and ultimately the Ship may serve as a metaphor for how we behave in the only 'world' we have.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Non-stop ... until the end, 27 Feb. 2012
By 
Steve D (London, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Non-Stop (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
Hmm, how do I explain this book without totally spoiling it? Very difficult. I think this was Aldiss's fourth or fifth novel. It was written in 1958, so you can guess that the writing style is slightly old-fashioned. For me, this added to its immense charm, rather than detract from it. The characters are great, particularly Marapper, who I could see and hear quite clearly from the first time he speaks. The Greene tribe are fairly primitive in their ways, constantly on the move through a world of corridors filled with overgrown vegetation. Roy Complain is a hunter, who ventures beyond the guard barriers into the ponics, where he kills pigs to trade for bread and such. The tribe is threatened by other tribes, and by the Forwarders, and the Outsiders, and rumours of the Giants, who were once thought extinct but have been seen again. When 'his woman' follows him on a hunt she is taken by another tribe in an area called Sternstairs and Complain, flogged for losing her, Marapper and three others decide to escape and try and find the mythical Control.

The exact nature of their world, who the other races are, and why they are there is slowly deciphered by the characters as the story progresses. Much of it is easy to guess, but the pace of the novel, the charm with which it is told, and the steadily developing characters meant I didn't begrudge that at all.

My one problem with the book is the brevity of the ending. Where I was expecting another chapter the story just ends, and very abruptly at that. It's the only part of the book that feels rushed, which is a real shame, almost like he wasn't quite sure how to conclude it. Still, I suppose that's nothing new in sf with big ideas. Apart from that, it's a great read.

And I haven't mentioned the rats ...
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Non-Stop, 2 Jun. 2013
By 
TomCat (Cardiff, Wales.) - See all my reviews
[WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW...]

The idea of a `generation ship' had been kicking around in both scientific non-fiction and SF for quite a few years by 1958, when Brian Aldiss wrote the first novel-length treatment of the concept. Non-Stop concerns itself with several scavenging, semi-primitive tribes who inhabit a primordial jungle; the obvious mid-novel revelation being that these tribesmen are, in fact, the distant descendants of the crew of a vast generation ship that has lost its own history and which, owing to some horrific accident, has become over-grown with mutated plant life (dubbed `ponics' - presumably a corruption of the term `hydroponics'). I say the twist is "obvious", but this is only because it has, in recent years, become an over-used cliché of both visual and literary SF, from Gene Wolfe's Book of the Long Sun and Christine Love's Analogue: a Hate Story, to cinema's abortive 2009 horror bore-fest Pandorum.

The reason for this over-use is obvious: the scenario is an incredibly fruitful one, a twist that generates impressive narrative momentum and sense-of-wonder while simultaneously knocking at the door of deeper philosophical investigations and a Platonist questioning of the material evidence for the world around us. Non-Stop is one of the better examples of this scenario, and is, of course, awarded extra SF points for being its progenitor. The prose is a little dry, occasionally veering on clunky, but the sheer pace of the book mitigates any sense of stylistic aridity, and the deftly handled dénouement is, for modern readers at least, a much more impressive shock than the early disclosure that `they were on a ship all along'.

Generous readers might want to argue that Non-Stop (both its plot and, fittingly, its title) functions as a metaphor for human history and our awakening from an ignorant dark age into a self-aware scientific knowledge. This transition, it's religious and psychological implications, are brilliantly worked-through in the character of Marapper, a priest who leads an expedition to find the ship's legendary "bridge". Unfortunately, however, the rest of book's characterisation is inconsistent at best, with the majority of protagonists seemingly unfazed by the surely mind-blowing discovery that the recognizable world of their arid jungle is actually an enclosed hermetic space aboard an interstellar, man-made ship; I was hoping for at least a little existential panic. (Although there is a strikingly beautiful sequence in which several characters stumble upon and activate a viewing window, exposing themselves for the first time to the stars and the vastness of the cosmos, a moment that functions as an unsubtle but nonetheless arresting metaphor for the death of religion and the revelation of human smallness).

It's not without its flaws, then, but Non-Stop is a swift, highly readable novel that has stood the test of time. It is also, perhaps, one of the best, clearest examples of what Adam Roberts calls the defining dialectic of Science Fiction: the tension between scientific, materialist logic, and the mystical spiritualism encoded in religious myth that pervades so much of our history, literature and attempts to explain the universe
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4.0 out of 5 stars Slightly spoiled by the spoilers!, 22 Aug. 2012
By 
John M "John M" (UK) - See all my reviews
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Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Non-Stop (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
This is Brain Aldiss's second novel from an extensive list of works and considered by many to be one of his best.
The premise for the story is a good one and developed into a reasonably intriguing work. It is difficult to comment too much on the plot without giving away crucial information and hence spoiling the reader's experience.
However, unfortunately, the publishers of this edition do exactly that in the introduction. The first fly sheet has two review quotes that give away essential plot details. It is not really a very clever piece of publishing! As a minor complaint there were also quite a few typographical errors in the text.
Brian Aldiss writes reasonably well for the genre and has for me a very characteristic style, inventing strange and unusual characters in post-catastrophic situations. Although I have read other Aldiss novels I've considered a bit mediocre, by comparison Non-Stop is a novel well worth the effort.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Classic SF, 18 Aug. 2013
By 
reader 451 - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Non-Stop (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
Brian Aldiss's Non-Stop, first written in 1958 and re-edited in 2000, definitely deserves its label of SF masterwork. As the other reviews point out, little can be said of the plot without spoiling it, but as the first few pages already make clear, the premise is that a group of tribal people find themselves stranded on what they think may be a giant, derelict spaceship. More is unveiled, piece by piece, as the story progresses. With excellent pacing and characterisation, the book is guaranteed to have you finish it in a few evenings at most. My only complaint is with the ending which, though it is as strong as the rest of the book, disappointed me in one of its sub-plots (to do with the rats: I won't tell more) which I found marginally convincing at best and eventually hanging as a loose end. But this is a very minor criticism, and I am gearing to look for more Brian Aldiss.
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Non-Stop (S.F. MASTERWORKS)
Non-Stop (S.F. MASTERWORKS) by Brian Aldiss (Paperback - 14 Sept. 2000)
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