Portrait 3

Brian Aldiss

Brian Wilson Aldiss, OBE (born 18 August 1925) is an English author of both general fiction and science fiction. His byline reads either Brian W. Aldiss or simply Brian Aldiss. Greatly influenced by science fiction pioneer H. G. Wells, Aldiss is a vice-president of the international H. G. Wells Society. He is also (with Harry Harrison) co-president of the Birmingham Science Fiction Group. Aldiss was named a Grand Master by the Science Fiction Writers of America in 2000, and has received two Hugo Awards, one Nebula Award, and one John W. Campbell Memorial Award.[1] His influential works include the short story "Super-Toys Last All Summer Long", the basis for the Stanley Kubrick-developed Steven Spielberg film A.I. Artificial Intelligence.

Life and career Edit

Aldiss's father ran a department store that his grandfather had established, and the family lived above it.[2] At the age of 6, Brian was sent to board at West Buckland School in Devon, which he attended until his late teens.[2] In 1943, he joined the Royal Signals regiment, and saw action in Burma; his Army experience inspired the Horatio Stubbs second and third booksTemplate:Citation needed.

After World War II, he worked as a bookseller in Oxford. Besides short science fiction for various magazines, he wrote a number of short pieces for a booksellers trade journal about life in a fictitious bookshop, and this attracted the attention of Charles Monteith, an editor at the British publishers Faber and Faber. As a result of this, Aldiss's first book was The Brightfount Diaries (1955), a novel in diary form about the life of a sales assistant in a bookshop.

In 1955, The Observer newspaper ran a competition for a short story set in the year 2500, which Aldiss won with a story entitled "Not For An Age". The Brightfount Diaries had been a minor success, and Faber asked Aldiss if he had any more writing that they could look at with a view to publishing. Aldiss confessed to being a science fiction author, to the delight of the publishers, who had a number of science fiction fans in high places, and so his first science fiction book, a collection of short stories entitled Space, Time and Nathaniel was published. By this time, his earnings from writing equalled the wages he got in the bookshop, so he made the decision to become a full-time writer.

He was voted the Most Promising New Author at the World Science Fiction Convention in 1958, and elected President of the British Science Fiction Association in 1960. He was the literary editor of the Oxford Mail newspaper during the 1960s. Around 1964 he and his long-time collaborator Harry Harrison started the first ever journal of science fiction criticism, Science Fiction Horizons, which during its brief span of two issues published articles and reviews by such authors as James Blish, and featured a discussion among Aldiss, C. S. Lewis, and Kingsley Amis in the first issues, and an interview with William S. Burroughs in the second.

Besides his own writings, he has had great success as an anthologist. For Faber he edited Introducing SF, a collection of stories typifying various themes of science fiction, and Best Fantasy Stories. In 1961 he edited an anthology of reprinted short science fiction for the British paperback publisher Penguin Books under the title Penguin Science Fiction. This was remarkably successful, going into numerous reprints, and was followed up by two further anthologies, More Penguin Science Fiction (1963), and Yet More Penguin Science Fiction (1964). The later anthologies enjoyed the same success as the first, and all three were eventually published together as The Penguin Science Fiction Omnibus (1973), which also went into a number of reprints. In the 1970s, he produced several large collections of classic grand-scale science fiction, under the titles Space Opera (1974), Space Odysseys (1975), Galactic Empires (1976), Evil Earths (1976), and Perilous Planets (1978) which were quite successful. Around this time, he edited a large-format volume Science Fiction Art (1975), with selections of artwork from the magazines and pulps.

In response to the results from the planetary probes of the 1960s and 1970s, which showed that Venus was completely unlike the hot, tropical jungle usually depicted in science fiction, he and Harry Harrison edited an anthology Farewell, Fantastic Venus!, reprinting stories based on the pre-probe ideas of Venus. He also edited, with Harrison, a series of anthologies The Year's Best Science Fiction (1968-1976?)

Brian Aldiss also invented a form of extremely short story called the Minisaga. The Daily Telegraph hosted a competition for the best Minisaga for several years and Aldiss was the judge.[3] He has edited several anthologies of the best Minisagas.

File:BRIAN ALDISS Metropolis.jpg

He traveled to Yugoslavia, where he met Yugoslav fans in Ljubljana, Slovenia; he published a travel book about Yugoslavia; he published an alternative-history fantasy story about Serbian kings in the Middle Ages; and he wrote a novel called The Malacia Tapestry, about an alternative Dalmatia.

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1990.

He has achieved the honor of "Permanent Special Guest" at ICFA, the conference for the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts, which he attends annually.

He was awarded the title of Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to literature in HM Queen Elizabeth II's Birthday Honours list, announced on 11 June 2005.

In January 2007 he appeared on Desert Island Discs. His choice of record to 'save' was Old Rivers sung by Walter Brennan, his choice of book was John Halpern’s biography of John Osborne, and his luxury a banjo. The full selection of eight favourite records is on the BBC website.[4]

On 1 July 2008 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Liverpool in recognition of his contribution to literature.[5]

In addition to a highly successful career as a writer, Aldiss is also an accomplished artist whose abstract compositions or 'isolées' are influenced by the work of Giorgio de Chirico and Wassily Kandinsky.[6] His first solo exhibition The Other Hemisphere was held in Oxford, UK, in August–September 2010, and the exhibition's centrepiece 'Metropolis' (shown right) has since been released as a limited edition fine art print.[7]

Books Edit

Fiction Edit

  • The Rain Will Stop (1942) but first published by The Pretentious Press in (2000)
  • The Brightfount Diaries (1955)
  • Space, Time and Nathaniel (1957) A short story collection; all his published science fiction to that date, including "T", his first published story, and "Not For an Age". Aldiss had only had thirteen stories published at that time, and a fourteenth was hurriedly written to fill out the volume.
  • Non-Stop (1958) A member of a culturally-primordial tribe investigates the dark, jungle filled corridors that surround him to ultimately uncover the true nature of the universe he inhabits. This was published in the US as Starship.
  • Equator (1958), published in the United States as Vanguard from Alpha
  • The Canopy of Time (1959) A short story collection; published in slightly different format in the US as Galaxies like Grains of Sand
  • No Time Like Tomorrow (1959) A short story collection published for the US market by New American Library imprint Signet Books. (Includes the following stories: T, Not for an Age, Poor Little Warrior!, The Failed Men, Carrion Country, Judas Danced, Psyclops, Outside, Gesture of Farewell, The New Father Christmas, Our Kind of Knowledge)
  • The Interpreter (1960; US title Bow down to Nul) A short novel about the huge, old galactic empire of Nuls, a giant, three-limbed, civilised alien race. Earth is just a lesser-than-third-class colony ruled by a Nul tyrant whose deceiving devices together with good willing but ineffective attempts of a Nul signatory to clarify the abuses and with the disorganised earthling resistance reflect the complex relationship existing between imperialists and subject races which Aldiss himself had the chance of seeing at first hand when serving in India and Indonesia in the forties.
  • The Male Response (US: 1959, UK 1961)
  • The Primal Urge (1961)
  • Hothouse (1962) Set in a far future Earth, where the earth has stopped rotating, the Sun has increased output, and plants are engaged in a constant frenzy of growth and decay, like a tropical forest enhanced a thousandfold; a few small groups of elvish humans still live on the edge of extinction, beneath the giant banyan tree that covers the day side of the earth. This assemblage of stories, published in abridged form in the American market as The Long Afternoon of Earth, won the Hugo Award for short fiction in 1962.[1]
  • The Airs of Earth (1963) A short story collection; published in the U.S. as Starswarm)
  • The Dark Light Years (1964) The encounter of humans with the utods, gentle aliens whose physical and mental health requires wallowing in mud and filth, who are not even recognised as intelligent by the humans.
  • Greybeard (1964) Set decades after the Earth's population has been sterilised as a result of nuclear bomb tests conducted in Earth's orbit, the book shows an emptying world, occupied by an aging, childless population.
  • Best SF stories of Brian Aldiss (1965); Published in the US as But who can replace a Man?
  • Earthworks (1965)
  • The Impossible Smile (1965); Was serialized in Science Fantasy magazine, under the pseudonym "Jael Cracken"
  • The Saliva Tree and other strange growths (1966) A story collection. The title story of the collection, The Saliva Tree was written to mark the centenary of H.G. Wells's birth, and received the 1965 Nebula Award for the best novella.[1]
  • An Age (1967: also published in the US as Cryptozoic!) a dystopic time-travel novel.
  • Report on Probability A (1967).
  • Barefoot in the Head (1969) Perhaps Aldiss's most experimental work, this first appeared in several parts as the 'Acid Head War' series in New Worlds. Set in a Europe some years after a flare-up in the Middle East led to Europe being attacked with bombs releasing huge quantities of long-lived hallucinogenic drugs. Into an England with a population barely maintaining a grip on reality comes a young Serb, who himself starts coming under the influence of the ambient aerosols, and finds himself leading a messianic crusade. The narration and dialogue reflects the shattering of language under the influence of the drugs, in mutating phrases and puns and allusions, in a deliberate echo of Finnegans Wake.
  • Neanderthal Planet (1970) Collection of four short stories.
  • The Horatio Stubbs saga
    • [The Hand-Reared Boy (1970)
    • A Soldier Erect (1971)
    • A Rude Awakening (1978)
  • The Moment of Eclipse (1971) A short story collection) -- British Science Fiction Award winner, 1971[8]
  • The Book of Brian Aldiss (1972) (UK title The Comic Inferno) A short story collection
  • Frankenstein Unbound (1973) A 21st century politician is transported to 19th century Switzerland where he encounters both Frankenstein and Mary Shelley. It was the basis for the 1990 film of the same title, directed by Roger Corman.
  • The Eighty Minute Hour (1974) A weird and ambitious "space opera" where the characters actually sing. The world is in chaos after nuclear war causes time slips and even those that believe they rule the world have trouble knowing where and when they are.
  • The Malacia Tapestry (1976)
  • Brothers of the Head (1977) A large-format book, illustrated by Ian Pollock, that tells the strange story of the rock stars Tom and Barry Howe, Siamese twins with a third, dormant head, which eventually starts to awaken. Adapted for film by Keith Fulton and Lou Pepe, released in 2006.
  • Last Orders and Other Stories (1977)
  • Enemies of the System (1978)
  • Pile (1979) Poem
  • New Arrivals, Old Encounters (1979)
  • Moreau's Other Island (1980)
  • The Squire Quartet
    • Life In The West (1980)
    • Forgotten Life (1988)
    • Remembrance Day (1993)
    • Somewhere East Of Life (1994)
  • The Helliconia Trilogy
  • Seasons in Flight (1984)
  • Courageous New Planet (c. 1984)
  • The Year before Yesterday (1987); A fix-up of Equator from 1958 combined with The Impossible Smile from 1965.
  • Ruins (1987)
  • A Man in His Time (1988) ISBN 0-689-12052-4
  • A Romance of the Equator: The Best Fantasy Stories (1989) ISBN 0-689-12053-2
  • Dracula Unbound (1990)
  • A Tupolev too Far (1994)
  • Somewhere East of Life: Another European Fantasia (1994)
  • The Secret of This Book (1995) (Title in U.S. was Common Clay: 20-Odd Stories)
  • White Mars or, the Mind Set Free (1999) (co-authored with Roger Penrose)
  • Super-Toys Last All Summer Long and Other Stories of Future Time (2001) The title story was the basis for the Steven Spielberg film A.I.: Artificial Intelligence
  • Super-State (2002)
  • The Cretan Teat (2002)
  • Affairs at Hampden Ferrers (2004)
  • Cultural Breaks (2005) His latest collection of short stories.
  • Jocasta (2005) A re-telling of Sophocles' Theban tragedies concerning Oedipus and Antigone. In Aldiss' novel, myth and magic are vibrantly real, experienced through an evolving human consciousness. Amidst various competing interpretations of reality, including the appearance of a time-travelling Sophocles, Aldiss provides an engaging alternative explanation of the Sphinx' riddle.
  • Sanity and the Lady (2005)
  • HARM (2007) A 2008 Campbell Award nominee[9]
  • Walcot (2010) A novel covering the life of a family throughout the 20th century.

Poetry Edit

  • Home Life With Cats (1992)
  • At The Caligula Hotel (1995)
  • Songs From The Steppes Of Central Asia (1995)
  • A Plutonian Monologue on His Wife's Death (The Frogmore Papers, 2000)
  • At A Bigger House (2002)
  • The Dark Sun Rises (2002)
  • A Prehistory of Mind (Mayapple Press) (2008)
  • Mortal Morning (2011) [10]

Non-fiction Edit

  • Cities and Stones: A Traveller's Yugoslavia (1966).
  • The Shape of Further Things: Speculations on Change (1970).
  • Item Eighty Three (1972), with Margaret Aldiss. A bibliography of Aldiss's published works (the book is number 83 in its own list).
  • Billion Year Spree: The History of Science Fiction (1973). Winner of a special award from the British Science Fiction Association in 1974.
  • Hell's Cartographers (1975), co-edited with Harry Harrison. A collection of short autobiographical pieces by a number of science fiction writers, including Aldiss. The title is a reference to Kingsley Amis's survey of science fiction, New Maps of Hell.
  • This World and Nearer Ones: Essays Exploring the Familiar (1979).
  • Trillion Year Spree: The History of Science Fiction (1986), with David Wingrove. A revised and expanded version of Billion Year Spree and winner of the 1987 Hugo Award for the year's best nonfiction.[1] At the 'Conspiracy 87' ceremony, Aldiss began his acceptance speech by holding the Hugo aloft and proclaiming, to general approbation, "It's been a long time since you've given me one of these, you bastards!"[11]
  • The Pale Shadow Of Science (1985). Essays.
  • ...And the Lurid Glare of the Comet (1986). Articles and autobiography.
  • Bury My Heart at W.H. Smith's: A Writing Life (1990). Autobiography.
  • The Detached Retina: Aspects of SF and Fantasy (1995).
  • The Twinkling of an Eye, or My Life as an Englishman (1998).
  • When the Feast is Finished (1999), with Margaret Aldiss.
  • Art After Apogee: The Relationships Between an Idea, a Story, a Painting (2000), with Rosemary Phipps.

Short story collections Edit

( As editor )

  • Penguin Science Fiction (1961)
  • More Penguin Science Fiction (1963)
  • Yet More Penguin Science Fiction (1964)
  • The Year's Best Science Fiction No.1 (with Harry Harrison) (1968)
  • The Year's Best Science Fiction No.2 (with Harry Harrison) (1969)
  • The Year's Best Science Fiction No.3 (with Harry Harrison) (1970)
  • The Year's Best Science Fiction No.4 (with Harry Harrison) (1971)
  • The Year's Best Science Fiction No.5 (with Harry Harrison) (1972)
  • The Year's Best Science Fiction No.6 (with Harry Harrison) (1973)
  • The Penguin Science Fiction Omnibus (1973)
  • Space Opera (1974)
  • Decade: the 1940's (with Harry Harrison) (1975)
  • Decade: the 1950's (with Harry Harrison) (1976)
  • Evil Earths (1976)
  • Galactic Empires, Volume 1 (1976)
  • Galactic Empires, Volume 2 (1976)
  • Mini Sagas from the Daily Telegraph Competition (1998) ISBN 978-0-7509-1594-6
  • Mini Sagas From the Daily Telegraph Competition 2001 (2001) ISBN 978-1-900564-77-9
  • A Science Fiction Omnibus (2007) ISBN 978-0-14-118892-8

Other Edit

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