100 sf

Saturday, May 23, 2009

#34: Hothouse (1962) by Brian Aldiss

“Obeying an inalienable law, things grew, growing riotous and strange in their impulse for growth.”

“Life was everywhere, life on a formidable scale. But the increased solar radiation that had brought the extinction of most of the animal kingdom had spelt the triumph of plant life. Everywhere, in a thousand forms and guises, the plants ruled. And vegetables have no voices.”

Brian Aldiss does some funky things with physics and nature in Hothouse. He has the Sun expand its intensity. He has the Earth with one side permanently facing the Sun, one side not. And he has insect webs connecting the Moon and Earth. Oh, and did I mention the fact that plants rule the world and humans have become a minor, hunted species?

Once you’ve got all that down, the plot follows simply along. Mostly it’s the tale of Gren, one of the few human males on the planet, his relationship with morel---a sentient fungus that exists in symbiosis with him---and his journey to find out what’s really going on with the Earth, Sun, and Aldiss’ crazy physics. Otherwise, the book is really a fantastical romp through Aldiss’ imagination. He invents plants, insects, and the directions of human evolution.

I must admit that I grow tired of Aldiss’ fantasies at times and a few sections of the book were a real slog for me. On the other hand, the book is generally beloved, as is Aldiss. So you don’t have to take my word as final on the issue.

IDW recently brought this title back into print.