Top positive review
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Non-stop ... until the end
on 27 February 2012
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 ...