Aldiss Explores important issues by focusing on the personal difficulties experienced by ordinary people. A fisherman crosses a lake which divides two villages and, in so doing, challenges the taboos which separate him from the girl he wishes to marry. A glamorous young prince decides to liberate his slaves; his attempts miscarry because of his failure to understand human nature. Brian Aldiss’s vision of existence ranges from an uncompromisingly bleak one, as in ‘The Plain, the Endless Plain’, to a sharp and amazing observation of the absurdity of war in ‘Consolations of Age’. However austere life is, Aldiss’s characters somehow survice – similarly, the harsh conclusions he draws are counterbalanced by humour and an ability to retain a spark of optimism against all odds.
FIRST EDITION: Jonathan Cape, 1984