Starship by Brian Aldiss

Review by Bill Johnston

Starship by Brian Aldiss takes its setting from "Universe" (Orphans of the Sky) by Robert Heinlein. "Universe" is about a ship which would take generations to travel between the stars. The story begins after society has broken down and reformed, and the crew have forgotten that they live in a starship. Orphans of the Sky is "Universe" expanded to a novel, but I have not read it. Starship follows the idea of an out-of-control slowboat but is more intricate than "Universe". There is enough going on to keep the main character uncovering things throughout the book. It is a very good book, and I can recommend it for almost anyone who prefers sf.

Aldiss writes rather pessimistic stories, fitting the stereotype of the British sf author. He is most known for his short stories, and this is only the second novel I have read by him. The other is The Long Afternoon of Earth. Hothouse, which has just been reprinted, is either a retitling of Afternoon, or it is an expanded version. Afternoon takes place millions of years in the future at the end of the world. The imagery of what could happen that far in the future makes the book worth reading, even though little of the plot is memorable. It bears some resemblance to the later scenes in The Time Machine by H. G. Wells, and is probably the best known of Aldiss' novels.

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