I really don't think that I would try another book by Brian Aldiss. There was nothing about any of the characters in the book that made me connect with them.
I was not enthralled with Christopher Slade's performance. One of the most annoying parts of it, which should have been caught by a sound engineer and stopped early, is that I could hear him turning the pages of the book. I really felt like he was reading a book to me, as opposed to performing the characters. There was nothing wrong with it, but there was nothing that was RIGHT about it either.
Helliconia Spring is like one of those made for cable movies that you begin watching right before bedtime. You know early on that it's not going to be that good, but you just keep waiting for it to get better. It just HAS TO get better. It can't keep going on like this. There is some deeper, more interesting part that is just about to happen...right? Two hours later you end up kicking yourself because you could have been sleeping.
There just was no plot. It was a multi generational story concerning the climatic changes on an alien planet and how it affected the human population. Human population? Yea, there were humans. There were pigs, horses, bears, and dogs, along with a myriad of the native alien creatures (some of which are sentient), but not one word of explanation of how these terrestrial beings came to be on Helliconia. Yes, there was some connection with Earth, a research station (from Earth) orbiting the planet. However, this research station was, as best I could tell, only there to explain a few technical matters that really didn't contribute to the storyline, or could have been explained by the same narratives that the author used to explain other aspects of Helliconia that are not explainable by known scientific principles. In fact, the only thing that really came from having a research station from Earth was a good explanation of the science of why the researchers from Earth couldn't ever go down to Helliconia!
There is no goal, no protagonist or antagonist, no overriding (or even under riding) reason to keep listening to find out what happens next. Dickens pulled off getting the reader involved with following multiple characters' trials and tribulations through every day life by developing characters that you can get involved in. Characters you can love; characters you can hate. Let's face it, Aldiss is no Dickens, and his characters just aren't that deep. I yearned for one good hero or one good villain! Someone to cry over or shout about! I would have even been happy with a little person on a quest for a magical ring...
In short, I am kicking myself because I could have been asleep!
It was difficult to put up with much of the main villain. I know he's supposed to be a little off, but the portrayal put by the narrator was almost cartoonish.
It was also difficult to deal with the change between the forceful, clear narration cut to the soft voice of some of the characters. I frequently had to go back and rewind when listening to certain voices because the volume level changed so dramatically. I understand that when characters "whisper" then the narrator is supposed to do something different, but I would prefer a stage whisper to the real thing.
Overall, the narration was very good, with the caveats mentioned above.
If the writer had a better knowledge of firearms, I would have thought more of the story was believable. If you are anything of a "gun person," please skip it. It's been said that the devil is in the details, and the devil certainly got all of these...wrong.
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