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15 Reviews
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another Aldiss book on one man's search for meaning...
One man's search for meaning in a dysfunctional world... it's a common theme for Brian Aldiss to take up. This book, however, is perhaps a little more accessible than titles like Hothouse or Non-Stop, which also explore this theme. This is largely because Greybeard is set in the still recognisable world of Oxfordshire, England, albeit set in the near future in a world...
Published on 1 Sep 1999

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An odd book - original, well-written, but never very exciting
A couple of weeks ago I was in the Oxfam shop, looking for a science fiction item to buy. I plumped for this one, and I've just finished it.

On the good side, it's a well-written book, with good characters. What happens is that the testing of WMDs (weapons of mass destruction) in space have affected the Van Allen radiation belts around the earth, rendering the...
Published on 25 April 2011 by W. Robinson


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another Aldiss book on one man's search for meaning..., 1 Sep 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Greybeard (Hardcover)
One man's search for meaning in a dysfunctional world... it's a common theme for Brian Aldiss to take up. This book, however, is perhaps a little more accessible than titles like Hothouse or Non-Stop, which also explore this theme. This is largely because Greybeard is set in the still recognisable world of Oxfordshire, England, albeit set in the near future in a world seemingly devoid of children. The novel has a very haunting and melancholic quality to it but ends on an inspired note. Recommended reading... and you don't have to be a fan of science fiction to enjoy this.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An odd book - original, well-written, but never very exciting, 25 April 2011
By 
W. Robinson "Big Bill Robinson" (Slough, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
A couple of weeks ago I was in the Oxfam shop, looking for a science fiction item to buy. I plumped for this one, and I've just finished it.

On the good side, it's a well-written book, with good characters. What happens is that the testing of WMDs (weapons of mass destruction) in space have affected the Van Allen radiation belts around the earth, rendering the human race (and most higher animals) sterile.

So, without children, civilization slowly and inexorably crumbles. England is run, not by a national government, but by regional warlords. A group of old people have established themselves in the village of Sparcot, growing enough food to get by, and avoiding the plague which has decimated the population of the cities. One man, Greybeard, growing tired of the same old way of life, decides he has to leave, to seek his fortune. So off he goes, with this wife, rowing down the Thames.... The book meanders along for a while, telling us what Greybeard does and has done.

Suddenly, about halfway through the book, there is a major gear change, and we find ourselves in the USA, and a completely different storyline ensues. I found this big change rather difficult to swallow, as it's a bit like reading a completely different book!

Eventually the story moves back to England, with the old fogeys and has-beens trying to make the best of things. I found it quite difficult to get into this book, despite it being well-written. It's a bit like watching a mediocre play - not bad, but you are quite relieved when it comes to an end. It's just a bit dull, and I cannot honestly recommend it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating but lacks some depth, 7 Aug 2009
By 
Alison "runninggirlcycling" (Derbyshire, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Greybeard (Paperback)
I enjoyed this book but I don't think it really lived up to its potential. The first few pages got me hooked right in, very cinematic descriptions, I could visualise how the first scene would look like if it were a movie. The characters were interesting but could have been developed more as some were only superfically described. I also wanted to know more about the deeper feelings of these people who couldn't have children. Aldiss does explore this somewhat, but I think this is where he misses a trick. It just doesn't delve deeply enough into the issues that this scenario raises.

If you like this genre of book then I would certainly recommend reading it, it was certainly enjoyable and well written. It was difficult for me to get hold of though, it seems to have been out of print for a while so if you can get a second hand copy in any condition it's worth grabbing.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting idea but lacks the punch that 5 star books have, 25 Feb 2002
By 
Steven Douglas (Lincoln United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Greybeard (Paperback)
A nuclear accident unleashes radioactivity on the earth rendering the population sterile. As the population ages the earth decays to the dark ages frantically grasping for the myth of children still being born.
An interesting idea, well developed with good character generation. Unfortunately just lacked that special something which renders a good book a classic!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Senile Delinquents", 7 Dec 2013
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Don't normally enjoy Science Fiction, but enjoyed this novel. I thought its use of the term "senile delinquents" was a wonderful alternative to the more normal "juvenile delinquents". I read the book because it is featured this month on BBC World Service Radio's excellent World Book Club, and I am looking forward to listening to Aldiss responding tomorrow to questions from both a studio and worldwide audience. (By the way, I can thoroughly recommend this programme, which has caused me to read all sorts of book I would not normally buy. Also, I am sure most of us have that empty feeling when finishing a book. So it is great to finish a book, knowing one still has this programme to look forward to). Finally, perhaps on a rather inward note given that my partner and I are "childfree", it would have been good if Aldiss could have touched on the advantages of a couple not having children - this is particularly apparent to me where I live in Africa - average 6 to 7 children per woman and a population doubling every 20 or so years, carries with it many negative features.
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5.0 out of 5 stars OAP-ocalypse, 2 July 2008
By 
Andy Phillips (Leicestershire, UK) - See all my reviews
The story follows two of the youngest people in a world full of OAPs following an accident that leaves the human population of the Earth sterile and unable to have children, along with most mammals. The majority of the tale takes place when the man, Greybeard, and his wife Martha are around 60 years old, but a lot of their previous lives are told in flashback.

The couple begin the book in a small village in southern England, and they make their way down the river through Oxfordshire towards the coast. Along the way they encounter a number of characters who are trying to make the most of the last few years that humanity has left. As the population gets older, things begin to decay and society reverts to a much more basic level of existance.

This isn't a book packed full of action, but it's written in a way that makes the pages fly by. I can't give many more details without spoiling the story, and that's something you should experience for yourself.

If you liked 'Children of Men' (the film or the book), then try this book for an alternative perspective on a similar theme.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another sublime work from the exemplary sf mind of Brian Aldiss., 13 Feb 2014
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Another thoroughly absorbing and wonderfully literate work by SF Master Brian Aldiss. While dealing with an almost unbearably maudlin premise; our world made infertile by the ill-considered detonation of Atomic warheads in the earth's atmosphere; Aldiss writes so well, and with such sublime humanity, that one can't help but feel rather optimistic about the recuperative powers of man.

Each zesty, colorful vignette is beautifully realized by Aldiss, and one is quickly immersed in the wholly absorbing narrative of Greybeard, and his delightful wife Martha's stoic exodus through the myriad adventures they have along the Thames estuary, and the much hoped-for sanctuary of the sea.

I'm sure Greybeard must be one of the most elegiac journey's into the inevitable demise of our natal planet; as there is such a grand wit and effervescing, searching mind at work behind this exemplary novel.

Mr. Aldiss I salute you! 'Greybeard' has not not only proven to be an inspirational tome for generations of writers; it is also an earthy, impassioned, richly woven tale which shall remain a must-read for all those who genuinely appreciate great literary art.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent Science Fiction, 22 Dec 2013
I read this for the BBC World Book Club. It wouldn't have been my first choice but I found it extremely well written, especially the descriptions, and a throughly enjoyable read. Interesting podcast interview with the author about book still available via book club on web gives a surprising insight into origin of plot and character.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Original, subtle, moving - a classic of the genre, 20 April 2003
This review is from: Greybeard (Paperback)
Atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons has rendered the population sterile. Decades later, in Oxford, a group of very elderly people eke out a meagre existence as nature reclaims England.
Written by Aldiss in the 1960s, this remains a very readable novel of civilisation tetering on the brink. It is far more subtle and, in many ways, more disturbing than the "flash, bang, wallop" end-of-the-world novels we have seen since the 1980s.
A highly original novel with a surprising ending.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece, THE original that has been copied by others. Read this one!!!!!! It's a must!!!, 29 July 2014
By 
Maria Hale "Lucy" (Greater Manchester, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Greybeard (S.F. Masterworks) (Kindle Edition)
Another masterpiece by Aldiss.
I could not put down this amazing novel that raises so many ethical and philosophical points in an effortless and gripping way.
I had read 'The Children of Men' (PDJames) unaware that is was derivative from this masterpiece. I did think it was good and then it was made into a film, which I liked, but having read Aldiss' novel, I wish they would have made a film about this one novel.
I loved it!!!!
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