Brian Aldiss

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Brian Aldiss

OBE
Brian Aldiss 2005.JPG
Aldiss at Interaction in Glasgow, 2005
BornBrian Wilson Aldiss
(1925-08-18)18 August 1925
East Dereham, Norfolk, England
Died19 August 2017(2017-08-19) (aged 92)
Oxford, England
Pen name
  • Jael Cracken
  • Dr. Peristyle
  • C. C. Shackleton
Occupation
  • Writer
  • editor
  • artist
Period1954–2017
Genre Science fiction
Notable works
Website
brianaldiss.co.uk

Brian Wilson Aldiss OBE ( /ˈɔːldɪs/ ; 18 August 1925 – 19 August 2017) was an English writer, artist, and anthology editor, best known for science fiction novels and short stories. His byline reads either Brian W. Aldiss or simply Brian Aldiss, except for occasional pseudonyms during the mid-1960s.

Contents

Greatly influenced by science fiction pioneer H. G. Wells, Aldiss was a vice-president of the international H. G. Wells Society. He was (with Harry Harrison) co-president of the Birmingham Science Fiction Group. Aldiss was named a Grand Master by the Science Fiction Writers of America in 2000 and inducted by the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2004. He received two Hugo Awards, one Nebula Award, and one John W. Campbell Memorial Award. [1] He wrote the short story "Supertoys Last All Summer Long" (1969), the basis for the Stanley Kubrick–developed Steven Spielberg film A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001). Aldiss was associated with the British New Wave of science fiction. [2]

Life and career

Early life, education, and military service

Aldiss was born on 18 August 1925, [3] above his paternal grandfather's draper's shop in Dereham, Norfolk. When Aldiss's grandfather died, his father, Bill (the younger of two sons), sold his share in the shop and the family left Dereham. Aldiss's mother, Dot, was the daughter of a builder. [4] He had an older sister who was stillborn, and a younger sister. [5] As a three-year-old, Aldiss started to write stories which his mother would bind and put on a shelf. [6]

At the age of 6, he went to Framlingham College but moved to Devon and was sent to board at West Buckland School in Devon in 1939 after the outbreak of the war. [4] As a child he discovered the pulp magazine Astounding Science Fiction . He eventually read all the novels by H. G. Wells and Robert Heinlein, and later Philip K. Dick. [7] In 1943, during the Second World War, he joined the Royal Signals [8] and saw action in Burma. [9]

Writing and publishing

His army experience inspired the novel Hothouse [10] and the Horatio Stubbs second and third books, A Soldier Erect and A Rude Awakening, respectively. [11]

After the war, he worked as a bookseller in Oxford. [12] He also wrote a number of short pieces for a booksellers' trade journal about life in a fictitious bookshop, which attracted the attention of Charles Monteith, an editor at the publisher Faber and Faber. [13] As a result, Faber and Faber published Aldiss's first book, The Brightfount Diaries (1955), a 200-page novel in diary form about the life of a sales assistant in a bookshop.

About this time he also began to write science fiction for various magazines. According to ISFDB, his first speculative fiction in print was the short story Criminal Record, published by John Carnell in the July 1954 issue of Science Fantasy . [14] Several of his stories appeared in 1955, including three in monthly issues of New Worlds , [14] also edited by Carnell.

In 1954, The Observer newspaper ran a competition for a short story set in the year 2500. Aldiss's story Not For An Age was ranked third following a reader vote. [15]

The Brightfount Diaries had been a minor success, and Faber asked Aldiss if he had any more writing they could look at with a view to publishing. Aldiss confessed to being a science fiction author, to the delight of the publishers, who had a number of science fiction fans in high places, and so his first science fiction book was published, a collection of short stories entitled Space, Time and Nathaniel (Faber, 1957). By this time, his earnings from writing matched his wages in the bookshop, and he made the decision to become a full-time writer.[ citation needed ]

In 2012 Brian Aldiss (3).jpg
In 2012

Aldiss led the voting for Most Promising New Author of 1958 at the next year's Worldcon, but finished behind "no award". [1] He was elected president of the British Science Fiction Association in 1960. He was the literary editor of the Oxford Mail newspaper from 1958 to 1969. [12] Around 1964, he and long-time collaborator Harry Harrison started the first ever journal of science fiction criticism, Science Fiction Horizons, which during its brief span of two issues published articles and reviews by such authors as James Blish, and featured a discussion among Aldiss, C. S. Lewis, and Kingsley Amis in the first issue [16] and an interview with William S. Burroughs in the second. [17] In 1967 Algis Budrys listed Aldiss, J. G. Ballard, Roger Zelazny, and Samuel R. Delany as "an earthshaking new kind of" writers, and leaders of the New Wave. [18] Aldiss supported the New Wave movement, helping the magazine New Worlds to get financial backing from a 1967 Arts Council grant and publishing some of his more experimental work in the magazine. [19]

Besides his own writings, he edited a number of anthologies. For Faber he edited Introducing SF, a collection of stories typifying various themes of science fiction, and Best Fantasy Stories. In 1961, he edited an anthology of reprinted short science fiction for the British paperback publisher Penguin Books under the title Penguin Science Fiction. This was remarkably successful, went into numerous reprints, and was followed up by two further anthologies: More Penguin Science Fiction (1963) and Yet More Penguin Science Fiction (1964). The later anthologies enjoyed the same success as the first, and all three were eventually published together as The Penguin Science Fiction Omnibus (1973), which also went into a number of reprints. In the 1970s, he produced several large collections of classic grand-scale science fiction, under the titles Space Opera (1974), Space Odysseys (1975), Galactic Empires (1976), Evil Earths (1976), and Perilous Planets (1978). Around this time, he edited a large-format volume Science Fiction Art (1975), with selections of artwork from the magazines and pulps.

In response to the results from the planetary probes of the 1960s and 1970s, which showed that Venus was completely unlike the hot, tropical jungle usually depicted in science fiction, Aldiss and Harrison edited an anthology Farewell, Fantastic Venus!, reprinting stories based on the pre-probe ideas of Venus. He also edited, with Harrison, a series of anthologies The Year's Best Science Fiction (Nos. 1–9, 1968–1976). [20]

Aldiss invented a form of extremely short story called the mini-saga . The Daily Telegraph hosted a competition for the best mini-saga for several years, and Aldiss was the judge. [21] He edited several anthologies of the best mini-sagas.

'Metropolis' limited edition print by Brian Aldiss BRIAN ALDISS Metropolis.jpg
'Metropolis' limited edition print by Brian Aldiss

Aldiss travelled to Yugoslavia, where he met fans in Ljubljana, Slovenia and published a travel book about Yugoslavia entitled Cities and Stones (1966), his only work in the genre. [22] He published an alternative-history fantasy story, "The Day of the Doomed King" (1968), about Serbian kings in the Middle Ages, and wrote a novel called The Malacia Tapestry , about an alternative Dalmatia.

Art

In addition to a highly successful career as a writer, Aldiss was an accomplished artist. His first solo exhibition, The Other Hemisphere, was held in Oxford, August–September 2010, and the exhibition's centrepiece Metropolis (see figure) has since been released as a limited edition fine art print. [23] (The exhibition title denotes the writer/artist's notion, "words streaming from one side of his brain inspiring images in what he calls 'the other hemisphere'".) [23]

Personal life

In 1948, Aldiss married Olive Fortescue, secretary to the owner of Sanders' bookseller's in Oxford, where he had worked since 1947. [12] He had two children from his first marriage: Clive in 1955 and Caroline Wendy in 1959, but the marriage "finally collapsed" in 1959 and dissolved in 1965. [12] [24]

In 1965, he married his second wife, Margaret Christie Manson (daughter of John Alexander Christie Manson, an aeronautical engineer), [25] a Scottish woman and secretary to the editor of the Oxford Mail ; Aldiss was 40, and she 31. [12] They lived in Oxford and had two children together, Tim and Charlotte. [12] [24] She died in 1997. [12]

Death

Aldiss died on 19 August 2017, the day after his 92nd birthday. [26] [27]

Awards and honours

In 2010 Brian Aldiss (4).jpg
In 2010

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1990. [28]

Aldiss was the "Permanent Special Guest" at the annual International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts (ICFA) from 1989 through 2008. He was also the Guest of Honor at the conventions in 1986 and 1999. [29]

The Science Fiction Writers of America made him its 18th SFWA Grand Master in 2000 [30] and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame inducted him in 2004. [31]

He was awarded the title of Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to literature in the 2005 Birthday Honours list. [32]

In January 2007 he appeared on Desert Island Discs . His choice of record to 'save' was "Old Rivers" sung by Walter Brennan, his choice of book was John Heilpern's biography of John Osborne, and his luxury a banjo. The full selection of eight favourite records is on the BBC website. [33]

On 1 July 2008 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Liverpool in recognition of his contribution to literature. [34] The Brian W Aldiss Archive at the university holds manuscripts from the period 1943–1995. [35]

In 2013, Aldiss was recipient of the World Fantasy Convention Award [36] at the World Fantasy Convention in Brighton, England.

Aldiss sat on the Council of the Society of Authors. [37]

He won two Hugo awards: in 1962 for the Hothouse series; and in 1987 for Trillion Year Spree . [38] [39] Aldiss also won a Nebula award in 1965 for "The Saliva Tree". [40]

Works

Aldiss was the author of over 80 books and 300 short stories, as well as several volumes of poetry. [5]

Novels

Short stories

Collections:

Uncollected short stories:

  • "Index to Life" (1954)
  • "Ultimate Construction" (1967), as C. C. Shackleton
  • "The Hunter at His Ease" (1970)
  • "The Secret of Holman Hunt and the Crude Death Rate" (1970)
  • "The Weather on Demansky Island" (1970)
  • "The Day Equality Broke Out" (1971)
  • "Manuscript Found in a Police State" (1972)
  • "The Ergot Show" (1972)
  • "Strange in a Familiar Way" (1973)
  • "The Planet at the Bottom of the Garden" (1973)
  • "Serpent Burning on an Altar" (1973)
  • "The Young Soldier's Horoscope" (1973)
  • "Woman in Sunlight with Mandolin" (1973)
  • Enigma series:
    • Three Enigmas I:
      1. "The Enigma of Her Voyage" (1973)
      2. "I Ching, Who You?" (1973)
      3. "The Great Chain of Being What?" (1973)
    • Three Enigmas II: The Eternal Theme Of Exile:
      1. "The Eternal Theme of Exile" (1973)
      2. "All Those Enduring Old Charms" (1973)
      3. "Nobody Spoke Or Waved Goodbye" (1973)
    • Three Enigmas III: All in God's Mind:
      1. "The Unbearableness of Other Lives" (1974)
      2. "The Old Fleeing and Fleeting Images" (1974)
      3. "Looking on the Sunny Side of an Eclipse" (1974)
    • Diagrams For Three (Enigmatic) Stories:
      1. "The Girl in the Tau-Dream" (1974)
      2. "The Immobility Crew" (1974)
      3. "A Cultural Side-Effect" (1974)
    • Three Songs for Enigmatic Lovers:
      1. "A One-Man Expedition Through Life" (1974)
      2. "The Taste of Shrapnel" (1974)
      3. "40 Million Miles from the Nearest Blonde" (1974)
    • Three Enigmas IV: Three Coins in [Enigmatic|Clockwork] Fountain:
      1. "Carefully Observed Women" (1975)
      2. "The Daffodil Returns the Smile" (1975)
      3. "The Year of the Quiet Computer" (1975)
    • Three Deadly Enigmas: V: Year by Year the Evil Gains:
      1. "Within the Black Circle" (1975)
      2. "Killing Off the Big Animals" (1975)
      3. "What Are You Doing? Why Are You Doing It?" (1975)
    • The Aperture Moment:
      1. "Waiting for the Universe to Begin" (1975)
      2. "But Without Orifices" (1975)
      3. "Aimez-Vous Holman Hunt?" (1975)
    • Three Revolutionary Enigmas:
      1. "The Fall of Species B" (1980)
      2. "In the Halls of the Hereafter" (1980)
      3. "The Ancestral Home of Thought" (1980)
    • Her Toes Were Beautiful on the [Hilltops|Mountains]:
      1. "Another Way Than Death" (1992)
      2. "That Particular Green of Obsequies" (1992)
    • Three Moon Enigmas:
      1. "His Seventieth Heaven" (1995)
      2. "Rose in the Evening" (1995)
      3. "On the Inland Sea" (1995)
  • "I dreamed I was Jung last night" (1974)
  • "Melancholia has a Plastic Core" (1974)
  • "Always Somebody There" (1975)
  • "Excommunication" (1975)
  • "How Did the Dinosaurs Do It?" (1976)
  • "In the Mist of Life" (1977)
  • "The Bang-Bang" (1977), novelette
  • "My Lady of the Psychiatric Sorrows" (1977)
  • "Yin, Yang and Jung: Three Galactic Enigmas" (1978)
  • "Modernisation" (1980)
  • "End Game" (1981)
  • "Call Yourself a Christian" (1982)
  • "How the Boy Icarus Grew Up and, After a Legendary Disaster, Learnt New Things About Himself and the External World, Until He Was Able to Comprehend the Magic That Had Been His in His Earliest Years /or/ Second Flight" (1982)
  • "Parasites of Passion" (1982)
  • "The Captain's Analysis" (1982)
  • "An Admirer of Einstein" (1983)
  • "The Immortal Storm Strikes Again" (1983)
  • "Another Story on the Theme of the Last Man on Earth" (1985)
  • "Domestic Catastrophe" (1985)
  • "Operation Other Cheek" (1985)
  • "Possessed by Love" (1985)
  • "Silence After the Silence" (1985)
  • "The Greatest Saga of All Time" (1985), as C. C. Shackleton
  • "The Monster of Loch Awe" (1985)
  • "The Fatal Break" (1987)
  • "The Hero" (1987)
  • "The Merdeka Hotel" (1987)
  • "The Price of Cabbages" (1987)
  • "Thursday" (1987)
  • "Tourney" (1987)
  • "Conversation on Progress" (1988)
  • "Hess" (1988)
  • "Sex and the Black Machine" (1988)
  • "Wordsworth Halucinates" (1988)
  • "The Day the Earth Caught Fire" (1989)
  • "Adventures in the Fur Trade" (1990)
  • "People—Alone—Injury—Artwork" (1991)
  • "Kindred Blood in Kensington Gore" (1992)
  • "Softly - As in an Evening Sunrise" (1992)
  • "English Garden" (1993)
  • "Friendship Bridge" (1993), novelette
  • "The Servant Problem" (1994)
  • "The Monster of Everyday Life" (1994)
  • "The Madonna of Futurity" (1994), novella
  • "Into the Tunnel!" (1995)
  • "Compulsory Holidays For All" (1995)
  • "The Law Against Trivia" (1996)
  • "The Enigma of the Three Moons" (1997)
  • "Death, Shit, Love, Transfiguration" (1997)
  • "An Apollo Asteroid" (1999)
  • "The Rain Will Stop" (2000, The Pretentious Press), written in 1942
  • "A Single-Minded Artist" (2001)
  • "Happiness in Reverse" (2001)
  • "Talking Cubes" (2001)
  • Supertoys series:
    • "Supertoys: Play Can Be So Deadly" (2001)
    • "Supertoys: What Fun to Be Reborn" (2001)
  • "A New (governmental) Father Christmas", or "A New (governmental) Father Christmas: A Moral Tale for All in Headington" (2002)
  • "Near Earth Object" (2002)
  • "Ten Billion of Them" (2005)
  • "Pipeline" (2005), novelette
  • "Building Sixteen" (2006)
  • "Tiger in the Night" (2006)
  • "Safe!" (2006)
  • "Life, Learning, Leipzig and a Librarian" (2007)
  • "Four Ladies of the Apocalypse" (2007)
  • "Peculiar Bone, Unimaginable Key" (2008)
  • "Fandom at the Palace" (2008)
  • "The First-Born" (2010)
  • "Hapless Humanity" (2010)
  • Doctor Who series:
  • "Benkoelen" (2011)
  • "Less Than Kin, More Than Kind" (2011)
  • "The Mighty Mi Tok of Beijing" (2013)
  • "Abundances Above" (2016)

Poems

Collections:

Uncollected poems:

  • "There Are No More Good Stories About Mars Because We Need No More Good Stories About Mars" (1963)
  • "Bridging Hours in Wesciv" (1969)
  • "Drama on the River Cherwell" (1974)
  • "Epitaph for a Writer" (1974)
  • "In Another Town: Bologna" (1974)
  • "Innovation in the Arts" (1974)
  • "Mon Frère" (1974)
  • "Taking Leave of a Cold Country" (1974)
  • "The Lady Literary Agent" (1974)
  • "Verse in a Country Garden" (1974)
  • "Summer: 1773" (1976)
  • "Pile: Petals from St. Klaed's Computer" (1979)
  • "Sleep" (1983)
  • "Tra La" (1994)

Plays

Not categorized fiction

Non-fiction

Autobiographies
  • ... And the Lurid Glare of the Comet (1986), articles and autobiography
  • Bury My Heart at W.H. Smith's: A Writing Life (1990) [36]
  • The Twinkling of an Eye, or My Life as an Englishman (1998) [36]
  • When the Feast is Finished (1999), [36] with Margaret Aldiss
  • An Exile on Planet Earth: Articles and Reflections (2012), articles and autobiography
Science fiction
Others
  • Cities and Stones: A Traveller's Yugoslavia (1966)
  • Item Eighty-Three: Brian W. Aldiss - A Bibliography 1954-1972 (1972), with Margaret Aldiss, a bibliography of Aldiss's published works, this book being number 83
  • Science Fiction Art (1975)
  • This World and Nearer Ones: Essays Exploring the Familiar (1979)
  • Art After Apogee (2000), with Rosemary Phipps, essays
  • Researches and Churches in Serbia (2002), collection of 9 articles

Anthologies edited

  • Penguin Science Fiction series:
    1. Penguin Science Fiction (1961)
    2. More Penguin Science Fiction (1963)
    3. Yet More Penguin Science Fiction (1964)
    Omnibus edition, The Penguin Science Fiction Omnibus (1973)
  • Best Fantasy Stories (1962)
  • Introducing SF (1964)
  • Nebula Award Stories Two (1967), with Harry Harrison
  • Farewell, Fantastic Venus (1968)
  • The Year's Best Science Fiction series, with Harry Harrison:
    1. The Year's Best Science Fiction No. 1 (1968)
    2. The Year's Best Science Fiction No. 2 , or Best SF: 1968 (1969)
    3. The Year's Best Science Fiction No. 3, or Best SF: 1969 (1970)
    4. The Year's Best Science Fiction No. 4 (1971)
    5. The Year's Best Science Fiction No. 5 (1972)
    6. The Year's Best Science Fiction No. 6, or Best SF: 1972 (1973)
    7. The Year's Best Science Fiction No. 7, or Best SF: 1973 (1974)
    8. The Year's Best Science Fiction No. 8 (1976)
    9. The Year's Best Science Fiction No. 9, or The Year's Best SF 9 (1976)
  • Space Opera (1974)
  • Space Odysseys (1975)
  • Hell's Cartographers: Some Personal Histories of Science Fiction Writers (1975), with Harry Harrison, a collection of short autobiographical pieces by a number of science fiction writers, including Aldiss. The title is a reference to Kingsley Amis's survey of science fiction, New Maps of Hell.
  • Decade series, with Harry Harrison:
    1. Decade: the 1940s (1975)
    2. Decade: the 1950s (1976)
    3. Decade: the 1960s (1979)
  • Evil Earths (1976)
  • Galactic Empires series:
    1. Galactic Empires. Volume One (1976)
    2. Galactic Empires. Volume Two (1976)
  • Perilous Planets (1978)
  • Mini Sagas: From The Daily Telegraph Competition series:
  • A Science Fiction Omnibus (2007) ISBN   978-0-14-118892-8
  • The Folio Science Fiction Anthology (2016)

Adaptations

See also

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References

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  2. Scholes, Robert; Rabkin, Eric S. (1977). "Bibliography I: History and Criticism of Science Fiction". Science Fiction: History, Science, Vision . London: Oxford University Press. ISBN   978-0-19-502174-5.
  3. "Obit: Brian Aldiss". The New York Times. EU: Britain. Associated Press. 22 August 2017.
  4. 1 2 Brown, Andrew (16 June 2001). "Profile: Brian Aldiss". The Guardian. London.
  5. 1 2 Roberts, Sam (24 August 2017). "Brian Aldiss, Author of Science Fiction and Much More, Dies at 92". The New York Times. Retrieved 6 September 2017.
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  59. David Langford, The Sex Column and Other Misprints, Cosmos Books, 2005, p. 82. The quotation may not be reported exactly.