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Hothouse by Brian W Aldiss
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Hothouse (original 1962; edition 1969)

by Brian W Aldiss

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7982211,482 (3.51)26
Member:nwhyte
Title:Hothouse
Authors:Brian W Aldiss
Info:Sphere (1969), Paperback
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:hugo winner, sf

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Hothouse by Brian W. Aldiss (1962)

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English (18)  Croatian (1)  Swedish (1)  French (1)  Italian (1)  English (22)
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
A fantastical far-future tale where vegetable life rules an earth circling a dying sun. There is a lot to like here but the writing is a bit disjointed at times. The flow of the story feels as though Aldiss was making it up as he went along -- as though he had no clear story arc idea in mind when he began writing. Nevertheless, some of the fantastical creatures were magnificently realized. The Traversers have to be one of the more memorable life forms I have ever come across in sci-fi. If only the adventures experienced by the main characters had been as well conceived. ( )
  ScoLgo | Sep 2, 2016 |

It's not just pulp fiction - it's vegetable-pulp fiction!

Long aeons in Earth's future, an Age of Plants has risen. Dangerous, carnivorous plants are everywhere - some species are even mobile hunters! The remaining humans are a dwarfed, shrunken species. With greatly reduced intelligence and a simple, tribal lifestyle, they struggle to stay alive long enough to maintain their population.

It's an interesting premise... sadly, the execution is, quite frankly, terrible. The writing is clunky. The plot, practically non-existent. The characters are (at times, quite literally) interchangeable, with no depth or even an attempt at giving them individual personalities. Basically, there's a group of these future humans, and they wander around, encountering one monster or other hazard after another, and gradually getting picked off.

The main raison-d'etre of the book is to imaginatively describe these alien organisms, one after another. They're created from a purely fantastic perspective, not an actual 'scientific speculation' attempt. Nothing about the world described makes any logical sense. That's fine - except nothing about the book is strong enough to carry it as a fantasy, either.

It's also quite offensively sexist. Not in the way of many golden-age SF books, with nubile alien slave girls and sexy sorceresses - I love those! No, it's more of an insidious and constant flow of: every time an incident is portrayed, the female characters are less intelligent, less assertive, more timid, unable to come up with their own ideas, shown as interchangeable as lovers. Hey, they're good at 'giving comfort' though. Even though the future society, we are told, is matriarchal, it's the male characters that have to take charge in every situation and are the main 'do-ers' throughout. It is very clear that Aldiss never even considered that a woman might bother to read his book.

The content here was originally published in five installments in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction in 1961. Unbelievably, they were collectively awarded a Hugo for 'Best Short Fiction.' An abridged version was previously published as 'The Long Afternoon of Earth.' ( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
I seldom reread books because there are too many interesting unread books in the world to catch up with but some books just haunt me, demanding to be reread because I have forgotten too many details. I was walking around in a lush garden and I was reminded of this book and felt the need to reread it. This book is set on a far future Earth near the end of its existence, the sun is imminently going nova, human society and civilization have crumbled long ago. Plants and vegetable reign supreme, and human beings have devolved into primitive little green people the size of monkeys.
"Only five great families survived among the rampant green life; the tigerflies, the treebees, the plantants and the termights were social insects mighty and invincible. And the fifth family was man, lowly and easily killed, not organized as the insects were, but not extinct, the last animal species in all the all-conquering vegetable world."
As you can see, things look pretty grim for mankind! This book gives us a fascinating look at devolution in action, beside the little green people who are our direct descendants, there are subspecies of man who are presumably descended from crossbreeding of unknown origin.The most interesting example being the tummy-belly men who have a symbiosis relationship with a tree that feed and control them through a tail which function like an umbilical cord. When this is cut the tummy-belly men become clumsy, floundering and almost mindless; with a speech pattern which is particularly hilarious (much funnier than Yoda's). Aldiss' plant dominated Earth is full of ambulatory mostly carnivorous plants, John Wyndham's Triffids would have some very stiff competition here.

The best thing about this book is the vivid world-building that you can really submerge in. This is the most fascinating post-apocalyptic future Earth I have ever seen depicted in science fiction. I almost want to be there, except I don't fancy my chances in that environment, certainly I would like to see it portrayed in a decent movie. The aggressive environment reminds me of the action-packed [b:Deathworld 1|2037559|Deathworld 1|Harry Harrison|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1327944642s/2037559.jpg|6376454] by Harry Harrison (long-time collaborator of Brian Aldiss), the aforementioned [b:The Day of the Triffids|530965|The Day of the Triffids|John Wyndham|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1320530145s/530965.jpg|188517], and - strangely enough - my favorite computer game Plants vs. Zombies. The naivety of the human protagonists remind me of William Golding's [b:Lord of the Flies|7624|Lord of the Flies|William Golding|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1327869409s/7624.jpg|2766512] at times. The characters are not "deep" but they are believable, the weird plants tend to have oddly whimsical names in spite of their deadliness, and the whole thing is written in very nice literate English prose.

I am not sure about the profundity that some other reviewers mentioned in their reviews of this book, if there is a subtext it is not obvious to me, but for sheer escapism you can not beat this one. A very firm 5 stars rating from me. ( )
  apatt | Dec 26, 2015 |
More dark fantasy than science-fiction.

Hothouse has a lot nice imagery and Brian Aldiss' imagination does not let up, but the constant flight for survival--the fact that on every page someone is getting attacked or is attacking some plant creature--can get tedious with repetition.
  wissamktb | Feb 1, 2015 |
Interesting and unusual; and by the end I didn't want to stop reading. Very full of casual death though, particularly at the beginning; grim and unremitting as well as weird and imaginative. It does make you think of how fantastical things written by men tend to get categorised as / allowed to be thought of as sf rather than as fantasy; this is very definitely not hard sf, possibly not really even sf at all. ( )
  comixminx | Aug 9, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (19 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Brian W. Aldissprimary authorall editionscalculated
Collins, SusanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
White, TimCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Particularly for Charles and Timmy Parr
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Obeying an inalienable law, things grew, growing rioutous and strange in their impulse for growth.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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The Long Afternoon of Earth is a slight abridgment of the original five novellas. The full versions were later published as Hothouse. Do not combine Hothouse and any books with Long Afternoon of Earth in the title.
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Book description
The Sun is about to go Nova. Earth and Moon have ceased their axial rotation and present one face continuously to the sun. The bright side of Earth is covered with carnivorous forest. This is the Age of vegetables. Gren and his lady - not to mention the tummybelly men - journey to the even more terrifying Dark side. One of Aldiss' most famous and long-enduring novels, fast moving, packed with brilliant imagery.

From http://www.amazon.com/dp/0671559303
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The sun is about to go nova. Earth and moon have ceased their axial rotation and present one face continuously to the sun. This is the age of vegetables. Gren and his lady, and the tummybelly men - journey to the even more terrifying Dark Side.

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