Brian Aldiss is acknowledged as one of the elite among international SF writers. This selection of three novels and other short stories illustrates his superb mastery of story-telling allied with a wide-ranging and inventive talent. The Saliva Tree, a Science Fiction Writers of America prize-winning novella — a splendidly ingenious tale. The Interpreter — another prize-winner — tells of the Universe thousands of years hence when Earth, an insignificant planet, is arraigned on a charge of corruption. In The Primal Urge, a normally reticent, normally sporting, well-bred young man goes dashing off for a night, with an almost total stranger. Why? Brian Aldiss has invented a mechanical marvel that makes the rigid British readily admit the existence of sex.
In prospect, this volume looked good. But the selection was arbitrary – and not made by me, for reasons I have forgotten. I have always regarded The Interpreter with a degree of loathing. However, the title of the book seemed to indicate, in those hopeful days, that I had arrived; I should have known that, when entering an omnibus, one often has a long way still to go.
FIRST EDITION: Sidgwick & Jackson, 1969