Set on the Earth-like planet Helliconia, this is an epic chronicling the rise and fall of a civilization over more than a thousand years.
The great drama of life on Helliconia is shaped by its cosmic limitations. In fierce contrasts of climate, whole seasons last for centuries and civilizations rise and fall as the planet orbits the giant sun Freyr every 3000 years.
Brian Wilson Aldiss is one of the most important voices in science-fiction writing today. He wrote his first novel while working as a bookseller in Oxford. Shortly afterwards he wrote his first work of science fiction and soon gained international recognition. Adored for his innovative literary techniques, evocative plots and irresistible characters, he became a Grand Master of Science Fiction in 1999. Brian Aldiss recently celebrated his 80th birthday and is still writing, to ardent applause.
©1982 Brian Aldiss; (P)2009 Audible Ltd
Started really, really slow with new vocabulary and alien references that are hard to follow in audio format. Just finished listening to it - after working on it for a year, because it was so slow to start. Once I got over the hump however (about 1/2 way through) the story lines started to come together. I am buying the follow on because it got to be a good story - very Pillars of the Earth / Ken Follett.
I'm just this guy, y'know?
I am finding this book to be amazing as a feat of world creation - it reminds of Dune as far as the attention to and depth of detail of the society and setting. The narration and audio production values are good, but I generally prefer narration to be unobtrusive - I can forget I am listening and just go with the story. So that's my definition of "good" narration...
For the love of God! Was this book recorded in Christopher Slade's den? On a Radio Shack cassette recorder? Page turns, stomach noises, mouth noises and gulping and gulping and gulping. Loved this book when I read it, but the narrator - with a pleasant enough voice - isn't edited at all! You can hear a chair creaking and this constant really annoying - GULP every time old Chris starts a new page. Not a professional recording at all and it really gets in the way of the story.
In all fairness I have only made it through the first 4 hours of the book but just can't bring myself to finish it. This appears to be a collection of stories that will probably come together at some point, but the first one was so tedious and slow paced that continuing is not worth it to me. The recording quality is also not that great. There are frequent long periods of silence between words and sentences and you often hear the narrator licking his lips.
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!
Who can say if the story would be improved if the narration was even marginally competent? As it is, the pauses, the audible page turning, and the slow. monotonous pace are sure killers
I love Scifi and Fantasy books.
I really can not say which is worse the story or the narrator. The story is so slow that I found myself not paying attention to large segments of it and not caring enough to go back and re-listen to find out what happened which no doubt didn't matter anyway. The narrator has a way of reading each sentence then pausing so a very slow story is painfully drawn out. I forced my self to finish it then when I did not really caring what happened I realized that there was a SECOND part. ARRRHHH!
I have had the Helliconia series of books for many years and have read them at least 3 times. As with other Brian Aldiss titles they are not the fastest paced books ever but tell a detailed narrative about a world so much like our own yet so different. The solar system is such that winter and summer last for generations and natives of the planet have to adapt to this by undergoing a dangerous metamorphal disease each time. This same disease makes it guaranteed death for any off worlders who land on the planet. Added to this the fact that the humanoids are in competition with another intelligent species - the phagors and you get a world of intrigue and extremes. Yes I enjoyed this series and recommend putting the time into listening to it, you will be well rewarded.
"Turns out to be really good"
After posting a poor initial view earlier I have now finished this book and am halfway through the second in the series - Helliconia Summer. As another reviewer said the pace is slow but the vastness of the vision behind these stories is immense. If you're prepared to weather the first part and understand that the author is giving us a huge background plot - the planet and it's two suns - plus some ideas on how society is influenced and reacts to the massive climatic changes wrought by an eliptical orbit. In Helliconia Spring we also get our first fleeting glimpse of the earth observation station but very litte detail. For that we have to wait until Helliconia Summer...
This is an epic work and reveals great depth of imagination by Brian Aldiss. If you're looking for a shoot 'em up type sci-fi then this is not for you. If you are prepared to go with the flow and have your thought expanded - albeit in an unusual direction - then give it a try.
"Hope Summer is better..."
Sometimes you buy an audio book with high expectations of the story, taking it from the sample that the narration is ok. In this case the story is fine. A little slow to start but if you go with it you?ll probably enjoy it. However the narration completely spoils any sense of drama or suspense. Delivered in the style of a primary school teacher reading a Famous Five novel to a class of 8 year olds, the narrator shows a limited sense of the emotion the author is trying to convey and an even more limited ability to convey it. No effort is made at characterisation during passages spoken by the characters. The narrator begins to sound slow and tired 4 hours into the first half of the story. Long pauses make you wonder if your listening devise has stopped for some reason and at one point echoes, as though the piece was recorded in a village hall and the narrator has moved away from the microphone, spoil enjoyment. I checked this wasn?t my device by playing the same part on another.
I like the story enough to listen to the rest of the trilogy even if the same narrator has been used but will avoid other books narrator by this person in future. Come on Audible, there are far more competent narrators out there.
"Not worth it"
I agree with the previous reveiw. I stuck at it to the end - because I had used a credit for this book. I found it a VERY HARD listen. Maybe the reader was as bored with the book as I was. I will not be going onto read the rest of the series.
I love audio books, but I just could not get into this book, and regret wasting a credit on it, I tried for nearly 2 hours before giving up. Avoid this book.
"So dull I left it."
The book starts well enough, but the 'reading aloud' (not narration) in combination with long passages of tedious detail made it unbearable.
"Interesting book, poor narration"
This is a difficult review to write - the book is interesting and I've had it recommended to me many times, but I rarely have time for such a fat tome any more - so I listen on my many long drives across the country. The problem with this one is the narration. It sounds uncannily like the narrator from Bagpuss (or Noggin the Nog); very posh olde world style. Added to this are the teacup rattles, the tea sipping, page turning, long pauses, walking about (!) and the occasional motorbike outside - this is fine if the story is a fairytale being read by an 'uncle' figure and would probably add in that case; but this is supposed to be an immersive fantasy/scifi story and it is rather off putting. I'd also like some actual characterisation since it seems quite flat, like a bible being read to you (it doesn't help that the word/sentence emphasis is occasionally wrong and the reader stumbles over the science terminology every so often). I really want to hear the story though and I can't find another narration so I will persevere and review the other two when finished. It's a long book but I think it is not much improved being read in a timewarp style from the last century - if I want that I'd listen to Tolkein read by the author. I hate criticising narrators because it must be a difficult job, but you can always stop the recorder while you drink your tea and read the book from an e-reader in a soundproof room, that would be professional IMHO - I don't get to drink tea while I lecture... It's a job.
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