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A billion years in the future, the Earth and Moon have stopped rotating. The dayside of the planet is covered by thick jungle. Mile-long spiders move along webs between Earth and the Moon. Humans are small now, and green, and live in the shells of giant nuts. They are one of a few animal species left, another one being their friends, the intelligent termites. This is the triumph of the vegetable world, with moving plants, telepathic fungi, plants like bees and like oysters.
A world of wonders. Hothouse was written in the transition period between the Golden Age of science fiction in the 50s, where hard science and plausibility were strict values, and the New Wave that was about to come, where style and experimentation came to the fore. Understandably, Hothouse was criticized at the time for being implausible by other writers like James Blish mile-long spiders walking to the moon!
Aldiss wanted to dazzle with ideas that broke out of the mold. For the time, that was fresh and exciting, just like the science fantasy of Roger Zelazny and the madness of J. It can still be exciting. A story, you ask? There is one, but a rather basic one. This is mostly a word of warning. As the village leaders age, young man Gren leaves the group together with his followers, and they set out through the jungle in search of a new Eden.
Aldiss describes this split of the group as a natural occurrence, the way a bee colony splits. Humans here are simply one of many species in the jungle and our role as stewards of the planet has long ago ceased.
The story is simple because humans and their thinking has become simple; a property of the central conceit of the book. These simple humans were quite hilarious, except for the stupid tummy-belly men.
That Lewis Carroll nonsense went on for far too long. The baby-talking tummy-belly men are the worst thing ever printed on paper, by anyone. If I was any less enamoured with the rest of the novel, I would have burned it. Fascinating stuff, very entertaining. But then again, I am a biologist.
I want to submerge myself into this grand feat of worldbuilding. This is one of the best, most elaborately described far future Earths in the genre. It is also nightmarish to the point of exaggeration, and often uncomfortable and unsettling.
Many elements in this book suffer from repetition, including the struggle for life. Originally written as five short stories for which Aldiss incidentally won a Hugo , pasted together the book still feels fragmented. We follow the humans as they stumble from one danger to the next, always in fear of imminent death. Yet, every episode is filled with enough invention and wonder, making Hothouse still a remarkable read.
We get a pretty thorough view of this future world and all the myriad ways in which humans have entered new roles in the ecosystem. Intelligence still exists, but it has fallen mostly in other hands. Fun and unique, trippy, very flawed, childish and goes on for too long.
I kept lowering my rating as I neared the end. And now I never want to hear about tummy-belly men again. Like Like. Like Liked by 1 person. It is also a mystery to me why this won a Hugo, and why it was published as a penguin modern classic. I thought non-stop was excellent I think I gave it 5 stars and have been wanting to read more of him. This might be a good second Aldis for me to try, thanks for the pointer. Good luck with that and save travels through hothouse.
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Hothouse by Brian Aldiss
A billion years in the future, the Earth and Moon have stopped rotating. The dayside of the planet is covered by thick jungle. Mile-long spiders move along webs between Earth and the Moon. Humans are small now, and green, and live in the shells of giant nuts.
Hothouse – Brian Aldiss
Brian W. Due to high doses of solar radiation, life on Earth has devolved and mutated. For the plant world has evolved and gained sentience—it is the age of the vegetable, and humanity is in its twilight years. The webs of great spider-like plants called Traversers link the Earth to the moon. A massive banyan tree covers the sun-light face of the Earth, and in its branches a million dramas of life, death, and decay unfold… such as the plight of a small tribe of humans.
Many of these works are formulaic, and as predictable as a Meryl Streep Oscar nomination, but the best of them—say Ian McEwan's Solar or Paolo Bacigalupi's The Wind-Up Girl —transcend genre labels and rank among the finer literary offerings of the current day. But the 21st century has no monopoly on cli-fi. Some of the most influential examples date back to the s and s, when British science fiction authors developed many variations on the climate change novel. Ballard wrote several dystopian novels based on cataclysmic weather, most notably The Drowned World and The Burning World , and similar themes play a role in Arthur C. None of these books puts the blame on rising carbon dioxide levels, and instead remind us that there is more than one way to cook a planet.
In the US, an abridged version was published as The Long Afternoon of Earth ; the full version was not published there until In the novel, Earth now has one side constantly facing the sun which is larger and hotter than it is at present so it has become a veritable hothouse , where plants have filled almost all ecological niches. According to Aldiss' account, the US publisher insisted on the name change so the book would not be placed in the horticulture section in bookshops. Set in a far future, the Earth has locked rotation with the Sun, and is attached to the now-more-distant Moon, which resides at a Trojan point , with cobwebs spun by enormous spider-like plants. The Sun has swollen to fill half the sky and, with the increased light and heat, the plants are engaged in a constant frenzy of growth and decay, like a tropical forest enhanced a thousandfold. The humans live on the edge of extinction, within the canopy layer of a giant banyan tree that covers the continent on the day side of the Earth.