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review 2017-11-09 16:35
RIP Brian Aldiss, 1925 - 1917: "The Brightfount Diaries" by Brian Aldiss
The Brightfount Diaries. Brian Aldiss - Brian W. Aldiss

It has been a while since I read his “Trillion Year Spree”, but I would respectfully submit that Aldiss may very well have made his case for the essential nature of science fiction in making and moving on the modern world.

 

It is difficult to think of another genre so relevant, and at the same time (in its various forms) so popular and influential. I think he did much to point out the debt we owe the revolutionary authors like Mary Shelley (Frankenstein), and the hot-housing role of science-fiction short stories in incubating new (or reheated) ideas.

 

Brian Aldiss championed SF to the world outside, and occasionally gave those of us who were a little bit . . . insular . . . the ticking-off we deserved. He was part of the community in a good way, attending sf conventions, always approachable, and being the life and soul of the party but always producing books and criticism which challenged us. You could never quite predict what the next Aldiss novel would be, but you always knew there would be something to think about. He was a remarkable man. Even though he received an OBE and an honorary doctorate for "services to literature", I suspect he would have been much more successful in "critical" terms if he had jettisoned science fiction, and he would have been more successful in the sf world if he had buckled down to churn out identikit trilogies. "His work is still [in a sense] to be discovered." Yes, that's correct. It was wide, various, and deep. But those of us who discovered even a part of it are grateful to have done so. 

 

Thank you, Brian.

 

 

If you're into SF, read on.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-10-04 09:26
September 2017 — A Month with an Abysmal Reading Record

 

 

The previous month was all about graphic novels, comics, and anthologies. Here is what I read in September and what I thought about it:

 

Preacher, Vols. 4-9

It was irreverent as heck:

 

 

He means the Heavenly Host btw

 

It was full of sexist characters who say things like:

 

 

 

But oh, it was so good!

 

 

 

I read this one as part of Work Book Bingo for the Bestsellers’ Shelf. Glad I did because I loved it! Find a detailed review here.

 

 

Started this one Because. Neil Gaiman. Turns out, the book had an itty bitty poem by him. Anyway, I plodded on and found a collection of really weird stories. Check out my review here!

 

 

A thought-provoking collection of stories. Read my review here!

 

September seemed endless; maybe because I couldn’t cram much reading time into it. How was your September?

 

Originally published at midureads.wordpress.com on October 4, 2017.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-10-03 08:57
The Best SF Stories by Brian W. Aldiss –An Anthology that will force you to think!

 

 

 

Who Can Replace a Man?

As the human civilization collapses around them, the robots try to race their way to freedom. Read to find out, if they succeed!

 

Not for an Age

Get a glimpse into the lives of people who lived in the past. Like literally!

 

A quote that stayed with me

 

Psyclops

A father reaches across the boundaries of space and time to impart wisdom to his newborn kid.

 

Outside

Four people are trapped in a house. Or are they?

 

Dumb Show

A sort of apocalypse is caused by the use of sound as a weapon.

 

The New Father Christmas

You’d better hope the new Father Christmas doesn’t pay you a visit!

 

Ahead

The human race is drafted by another superior race to help the Failed Men from becoming extinct. Sometimes, ignorance is bliss. At other times, it can turn you into a nervous wreck!

An excerpt that I loved:

Surrey was silent a moment, surprised to hear pride in his own voice. Pride left, after that experience! Yet there was no pride in him; it was just the voice running in an old channel, the naked soul crouching in an ancient husk of character.

 

A new word learned and savored

 

Poor Little Warrior!

A hunter may hunt as many animals (dinosaurs in this case) and yet the act won’t give any meaning to their otherwise inane life.


And a quote that I think all hunters should be made to read:

Those century-old lights, dim and sacred, go out with no indecision. These cloisters are closed till Judgment Day. Your reflection is torn and bloodied from them for ever. Over their ravaged panes nictitating membranes slide slowly upwards, like dirty sheets covering a cadaver. The jaw continues to munch slowly, as slowly the head sinks down. Slowly, a squeeze of cold reptile blood toothpastes down the wrinkled flank of one cheek. Everything is slow, a creepy Secondary Era slowness like the drip of water, and you know that if you had been in charge of creation you would have found some medium less heartbreaking than Time to stage it all in.

 

Another beautiful word

 

Man on Bridge

Those more suited to cerebral pursuits have formed a separate group called the Cs. But nothing is ever enough for man and this time, he wants to create geniuses without pesky notions, such as fear and morality to stop them.

 

The Impossible Star

A murder takes place on board a spaceship while it is trying to escape the gravitational pull of the Impossible star.

 

Basis for Negotiation

Britain declares neutrality in the American-Chinese war, which leads to some of its own citizens rebelling against it. The twist at the end was a lot of fun!

 

 

Old Hundredth

Humans have vacated the Earth and sentient animal-like beings populate it now. This is the story about one of them. I loved two things about it:

  1. I started with a presumption that I was reading about a human. I wasn’t! This became clear in a later reveal.
  2. The animals could choose their moment of death as they saw fit. When they did die, they turned into a column –a musicolumn to be exact — that would produce music when a living organism was in the vicinity.

 

A Kind of Artistry

A new living and sentient entity called the Cliff has been born from a non-living asteroid. The story is about a human’s attempt to contact it and bring back a sample.

What I loved about this story is how it challenged another one of my presumptions. If Man will change the world, shouldn’t the world change him too?

 

 

 

Man in his Time

A man becomes out of sync with time on Earth after spending some time in space. While he treats his life like a science experiment, it is especially hard on his loved ones.

Kind of reminded me of the whole science has consequences mindset that Mary Shelley was in when she wrote Frankenstein.

 

While I wasn’t blown away by this anthology, it has given me ideas for future stories, things to think about, and challenged some of my previously conceived notions. What else should I expect from a good book?

 

 

Image

 

 Originally published at midureads.wordpress.com on October 3, 2017.

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review 2017-08-24 19:15
Around the World in Eighty Days
Around the World in Eighty Days - Jules Verne, Brian W. Aldiss,Michael Glencross

What I learned from this book: travelling by train is far more dangerous and troubling than travelling by boat. What happens to Phileas Fogg and his group during their train travels is insane.

 

About halfway through the book I switched to the audiobook, narrated by Jim Dale, and this choice has been perfect for me. I struggled with Verne´s descriptions of the cities, the countrys, the ships and so on and they worked better for me while listening to them. And Jim Dale is a great narrator, giving distinct voices to the characters and some of the voices (the mormon priest and Colonel Procter in particular) made me chuckle. 

 

Around the World in Eighty Days is such a fun book to listen to. In fact so much fun that I went walking through town today, earplugs in my ears, listening to the last hour of this novel with a constant smile on my lips. People must have thought me a nut job.

 

My favorite things about the ending has been

 

Mrs Auoda proposing to Phileas Fogg. You go, girl! And of course the satisfaction that I figured out that Phileas Fogg had in fact one more day than he thought he had. Another thing I learned from this book: Always travel from west to east if you want to go around to world. 

(spoiler show)

 

And to be honest I still don´t get the weird 19th century obsession with the Mormons. Loved Passepourte in this scene, though:

 

"And this," added William Hitch, "is why the Congress felt such envy towards us! This is why the soldiers of the Union invaded the soil of Utah! This is hy our leader, the prophet Brigham Young, was imprisioned in violation of the basic principles of justice. Will we give in to force? Never! We have been driven out of Vermont, driven out of Illinois, driven out of Ohio, driven out of Missouri and driven out of Utah, but we will still find an independent territory where we will pitch out tents. And you who are one of the faithful," added the elder, staring at his only remaining listener with eyes that blazed with anger, "will you pitch your tent in the shade of our banner?"

"No," replied Passepartout courageously, fleeing in turn and leaving the fanatic to preach in the wilderness.

 

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text 2017-08-15 22:53
Reading progress update: I've read 9 out of 230 pages.
Around the World in Eighty Days - Jules Verne, Brian W. Aldiss,Michael Glencross

He had worked in ten different households. In every one the people had been temperamental or unpredictable, eager to seek out adventure or explore other countries, something that no longer suited Passepartout. [...] He discovered in the meanwhile that Phileas Fogg, Esq., was looking for a servant. He made some enquiries about this gentleman. Someone whose daily life was so well ordered, someone who never spent the night away from home and didn´t travel or even go away for a day, was bound to suit him.

 

I wonder what Passepartout is going to say about Phileas Fogg´s upcoming travel plans...

 

 

 

 

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