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Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Hothouse (1962) by Brian Aldiss

Hothouse(Aldiss).jpg
Cover of the original Hothouse hard back, written by Brian Aldiss.
Book Review
Hothouse (1962)
by Brian Aldiss

  I get a decent amount of book recommendations from the Sunday New York Times obituary. It's a great place to hear about well known authors, recently deceased, who may be due for a critical reappraisal.  Since "death" is one of those rare events that triggers critical re-appraisals, a New York Times obituary tells me that this may be the time to read up on an Author I'd never heard of.   English sci-fi writer Brian Aldiss died last week, and he is a good example of a genre author who is canon within their specific genre but not outside it.  I'd often seen Aldiss' books. Particularly I remember that he was well represented in the science fiction portion of the public library in the Northern California suburb where I grew up.

  Hothouse is one of his hits, a Hugo Award Winner when it was published in 1962, it was most recently reprinted in 2015 as part of an Aldiss retrospective.  Hothouse is set in the far future- in the dying days of the Sun.  Plants have taken over the Earth, and humans have evolved into tiny, green, tree inhabiting creatures- something like a fairy or sprite from Celtic mythology.  Plants have evolved to replace most Animal types, and they all hate humans.  Originally published as a loosely connected series of novellas in pulp sci-fi magazines, Hothouse loosely follows one band of humans, veering out of the group half way through to follow one particular human who has formed a symbiotic relationship with a sentient morel.

  Like most sci fi books, the prose style is passable at best, instead, the reader is drawn in by the ideas expressed.  Here, the ideas are well considered, evoking H.G. Wells The Time Machine, Wyndham's the Day of the Triffid's and 1960's J.G. Ballard, while not quite surpassing any of them.

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