Brian W. Aldiss OBE (18 August 1925 — 19 August 2017) was a British author, primarily of Science Fiction, although he also wrote general fiction and some non-fiction. His early works, from The '50s, generally had a more literary bent than the typical SF of that era, and in the The '60s, he joined the New Wave Science Fiction movement, which promoted more experimental and literary forms of SF. His experimental novel, Barefoot in the Head, is a fairly extreme example. He went on to write a wide variety of SF. His best-known work is probably the Helliconia series.
His short story "Super-Toys Last All Summer Long" was the basis for the movie A.I.: Artificial Intelligence. He's also had a couple of other works adapted for film, including Frankenstein Unbound, which was filmed by Roger Corman.
He also coined the term "Cosy Catastrophe", which has gone on to achieve trope status.
He was given a SFWA Grand Master Award in 2000.
Works with a page on this Wiki:
Other works include:
- Hothouse (1962)
- The Dark Light Years (1964)
- Report on Probability A (1967)
- Barefoot in the Head (1969)
- Billion Year Spree: The History of Science Fiction (1973, non-fiction, re-issued in a much revised version as Trillion Year Spree in 1986)
- Frankenstein Unbound (1973)
- Brothers of the Head (1977): Adapted for film in 2006.
- Ruins (1987)
- Dracula Unbound (1990)
- White Mars or, The Mind Set Free (1999, co-authored with mathematician Roger Penrose)
- HARM (2007)
Tropes in his other works:
- Alternative Character Interpretation: In a short-story based on William Shakespeare's The Tempest, Aldiss reveals that Miranda and Caliban were actually in love, and Prospero alone opposed the relationship.
- Artistic License Biology: Hothouse has giant insects, man-eating plants, people growing wings after being mutated by space radiation, the entire planet being covered by a single banyan tree, and giant plant-spider hybrids that use their webs to connect the Earth to the Moon. The publisher even admitted that he knew it was ridiculously unrealistic, but still published it because it was awesome. Which turned out to be good move, because it ended up winning a Hugo Award.
- Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: In Dracula Unbound, Bram Stoker and a time-traveling scientist from the modern day fight vampires.
- City in a Bottle: Non-Stop is based on this concept, but with some gleefully British plot twists.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: The narrator in the short story I.I.I.
- Death World: Hothouse (AKA The Lord Afternoon of Earth) involves a distant future, where Earth has become tidally locked with the Sun (which has also expanded), so that one side constantly faces the scorching heat, while the other remains in perpetual darkness. The sun-facing side has become the titular hothouse, with giant plants constantly vying for supremacy and most of the animal kingdom dying off. Plants are now extremely dangerous to each other and the remaining animals (humans included). Humanity is facing extinction. Humans are now a fifth of the size they are today and live on the giant trees. They constantly have to be wary of the Man Eating Plants, and the four remaining species of insects, which have become Big Creepy-Crawlies. There are also Flymen, who periodically come and try to take human babies. It's revealed that they are humans mutated by cosmic radiation and rendered sterile; that's why they capture babies. Not much is known about the Nightside, except that it is very cold and that there is a race of baboon-descended people called Sharp-furs living there. Oh, and Earth is destroyed by giant solar flares at the end with life beaming itself to faraway stars.
- Department of Redundancy Department: Report on Probability A appears to be based almost exclusively on this trope, to the point of unreadability. The description in Wikipedia says: "The bulk of the book is the Report, describing in minute, obsessive and often repetitive detail, three characters G, S, and C as they secretly watch a house, each from a separate outbuilding with peripheral views of the house's windows, catching occasional glimpses of its occupant, Mrs Mary. As the Report is being read by a character called "Domoladossa'", he is secretly being observed from other universes, and these observers in their turn are being observed, all of them engaged in futile speculation about the exact nature of Probability A, and the exact meaning of the Victorian painting, The Hireling Shepherd (by Pre-Raphaelite William Holman Hunt)..." (and so on).
- Free-Love Future: The Primal Urge is a satire in which a machine that makes it impossible to hide sexual attraction has a dramatic affect on British reserve.
- Generation Ships: In Non-Stop, a plague on a generation ship reduces the passengers to barbarism, and they lose all idea of who they are or even what a spaceship is. The bioengineered plants go into overdrive, turning the ship into a jungle, increasing the sense of obscuration and isolation. The reader's first clue as to what's going on is when the jungle turns out to have bulkheads.
- In the US the publisher ruined the spoiler by naming the book Starship.
- Gladiator Games: In the short story "In The Arena": human captives of the redul are forced to fight alien monsters in an arena. The male protagonist is paired with a female fighter in a "double double": the two of them against a pair of deadly yillibeeth, with each pair being chained together.
- Gossipy Hens: In Non-Stop, Roy encounters a group of Gossipy Hens in Quarters. The fragmented bits of sniping he overhears are part of a breakthrough he has regarding the inward-turned and purposeless nature of his community and his need to go on his Hero's Journey.
- Hostile Terraforming: The Saliva Tree.
- Humanity's Wake: In the short story "But Who Can Replace A Man?" The robots are overjoyed that humanity is wiped out and they are now free, but they end up nuking each other and in the end they come across one surviving human, whom their programming compels them to obey.
- Humans Are the Real Monsters: In I.I.I., the titular Mega-Corp takes over all of Earth's resources and proceeds to Rape, Pillage, and Burn the entire Universe.
- Magic Pants: In one short story, a werewolf's transformation is described as a change in his "biomorphic field." This can include clothes as long as they are natural fibres, which will be absorbed into the wolf form and returned to their previous form with the rest of him. Artificial fibres would just be shredded.
- Mind Screw: Barefoot in the Head: The whole book is a massive, psychedelic mindscrew.
- One Scene, Two Monologues: The narrator of the story "Appearance of Life" finds two holographic messages which turn out to be from a husband and wife. When he turns them on they appear to be conversing with each other, but it soon becomes clear that the wife's message is an expression of her undying love for her husband, while the husband's is a confession of his infidelity.
- The Pigpen: The Utods in the satirical novel The Dark Light Years are a highly intelligent race whose biology requires that they spend most of the time wallowing in their own excrement. This makes their first encounter with humans... interesting.
- Population Control: In "Super-Toy Last All Summer Long", families are restricted from having more than one child.
- Recursive Reality: Report on Probability A presents a circular sequence of worlds. Mrs Mary is being watched by her three servants, G, S and C, who are being watched by some aliens from a parallel universe, who are being watched by scientists observing a rift in reality on the top of a hill, who are being watched by... until we come to the observers in the "outermost" reality, who turn out to be the figures in a painting in the cafe that G, S and C frequent.
- Sdrawkcab Name: In his illustrated poem "Pile", (subtitle "Petals from St. Klaed's Computer") the hero escapes from Pile and its computer "St. Klaed" to find the alternate world of Elip run by St. Dealk.
- Single-Task Robot: The short story "But Who Can Replace A Man?" includes such specialized robots as a "field-minder" (an agricultural robot), automated tractors and bulldozers, a seed distributor, an unlocker (with "fifty arms, most of them with more than one finger, each finger tipped by a key"), and a pen-propeller. Despite their ultra-specialized functions, all are capable of at least some degree of speech as well as some general reasoning power (although their robot brains are divided into "classes" from "class one" down to "class ten", and the lower class brains are very literal minded and kind of stupid).