Brian W. Aldiss

1925 -

English writer, anthologist and critic

Brian W. Aldiss is one of science fiction's most prolific authors of substance, and perhaps its most exploratory. He has written over 300 short stories and was a noted member of the "New Wave of Science Fiction" in the 1960s, helping to expand the scope and literacy of the genre.

Aldiss began publishing short stories in 1954, and in 1958 published his first novel, Non-Stop. A brilliant treatment of the generation starship theme, it is now regarded as a classic of the field, and helped earn Aldiss the award for most promising new author at the 1959 World Science Fiction Convention. Subsequent works include the Hugo award-winner The Long Afternoon of Earth (1962), which details the far future adventures of humanity's remnants, living in a continent-spanning tree after the Earth has ceased rotating, and Greybeard (1964), which describes a future humanity made sterile by a biological weapons accident.

During the latter half of the 1960s, Aldiss was closely identified with the innovative magazine New Worlds. Here he published increasingly unconventional fiction, notably his novel Report on Probability A (1968) and his Acid-Head War stories (1969). Set in the aftermath of a European war in which psychedelic drugs have been used as weapons, these tales feature a tour-de-force with a dense, punning style reminiscent of James Joyce's Finnegans Wake. The publication of Aldiss' Helliconia books (1982-85) garnered him more critical laurels, winning the 1983 John W. Campbell Memorial Award. The massive, thoroughly researched, three-volume exercise in world-building lies unassailably at the heart of modern science fiction.

Aldiss has also been an indefatigable anthologist and critic. As literary editor of the Oxford Mail for many years, he reviewed hundreds of science fiction books; his later reviews have appeared in The Times Literary Supplement, the Guardian, The Washington Post and elsewhere. He is a regular attendee of science fiction conventions all over the world, and a passionate supporter of internationalism in science fiction and in all other spheres of life. His many awards include the first James Blish Award in 1977 and the 1978 Pilgrim Award, both for excellence in science fiction criticism.

Selected Bibliography:
The Canopy of Time (1959)
The Best Science Fiction Stories of Brian W. Aldiss (1965)
Non-Stop (1958)
The Long Afternoon of Earth (1962)
Greybeard (1964)
An Age (1967)
The Saliva Tree and Other Strange Growths (1966)
The Book of Brian Aldiss (1972)
Frankenstein Unbound (1973)
Helliconia Spring (1982)
Helliconia Summer (1983)
Helliconia Winter (1985)
Dracula Unbound (1991)

Courtesy of the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, Copyright � John Clute and Peter Nicholls 1993, 1999, published by Orbit, an imprint of the Time Warner Book Group UK.