My dear Clive, In my previous novel LIFE IN THE WEST, I sought to depict something of the malaise sweeping the world, painting as wide a canvas as I felt I could confidently tackle.
My partial success left me ambitious and dissatisfied. I resolved to start again. All art is a metaphor, but some art forms are more metaphorical than others; perhaps, I thought, I would do better with a more oblique approach. So I developed Helliconia: a place much like our world, with only one factor changed - the length of the year. It was to be a stage of the kind of drama in which we are embroiled in our century.
In order to achieve some verisimilitude, I consulted experts, who convinced me that my little Helliconia was mere fantasy; I needed something more solid.
Invention took over from allegory. A good thing, too. With the prompting of scientific fact, whole related series of new images crowded into my conscious mind. I have deployed them as best I could. When I was farthest away from my original conception - at the apastron of my earliest intentions - I discovered that I was expressing dualities that were as relevant to our century as to Helliconia's.
It could hardly be otherwise. For the people of Helliconia, and the non-people, the beasts, and other personages, interest us only if they mirror our concerns. No one wants a passport to a nation of talking slugs.
So I offer you this volume for your enjoyment, hoping you will find more to agree with than you did in LIFE IN THE WEST - and maybe even more to amuse you. Your affectionate Father Begbroke Oxford.