Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Helliconia Spring by Brian Aldiss

Helliconia Spring (original 1982; edition 1988)

by Brian Aldiss

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,199156,687 (3.39)41
Title:Helliconia Spring
Authors:Brian Aldiss
Info:Triad Granada (1988), Edition: paperback / softback, Paperback
Collections:Read but unowned
Tags:#2013, @Fiction

Work details

Helliconia Spring by Brian W. Aldiss (1982)



Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 41 mentions

English (14)  Italian (1)  All (15)
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)

Reading Helliconia Spring when it first came out in 1982, when I was 15, was tremendously exciting. I last reread it, along with the other two, on holiday in Croatia in 1996, I think. I'm glad to say that it pretty much stands the test of time. It is in two parts, the first being the short tale of Yuli, who escapes the (vividly drawn) theocratic underground city of Pannoval (I was sorry that we saw no more of it) to bring new expertise to the town which becomes known as Oldorando, and the second, many generations later, being the story of how the people of Oldorando adapt to the coming of Spring. We readers are told what is going on in terms of climate change, but the characters are in the situation of their world gradually (and sometimes suddenly) changing out of all recognition. ( )
1 vote nwhyte | Jan 17, 2016 |
"" ( )
  rouzejp | Sep 2, 2015 |
This was written in the style of a Norwich Saga: very little flow and weird sentence structures that day things like "one day this happened" and "after a few days Yuli said this". There was very little dialogue and what there was was just info dumping. Speaking of info dumping, the first couple of chapters is basically just one huge info dump. Instead of showing us the author just tells us. We learn nothing of the characters other than what he tells us through info dumping, and even then it's just hugely boring. Too slow; though I quite like the premise of a terribly long Winter. Just executed poorly. A very good example of a sci-fi book from the era left behind that should stay behind. ( )
1 vote Xleptodactylous | Apr 7, 2015 |
As a scientific and sociological experiment about what life on a planet with a binary star system might be like, this book largely succeeds. As a gripping tale with relatable characters and fascinating plot points, it fails.
Helliconia's twin suns, Batalix and Freyr are locked in an inter-relational orbit. The planet's revolution around the nearer and weaker Batalix is similar in length to an Earth year. Freyr is much stronger, but the elliptic path Batalix and Helliconia follow around this sun is much longer and creates a great year in which many centuries are spent experiencing an arctic winter before melting into a near tropical summer. This book begins as spring is beginning to awaken the long-dormant planet. The sentient species have thrived or hibernated according to their respective adaptability to the season. In winter, the shaggy and brutal Phagors reign, with the more human "sons of Freyr" having regressed to a subsistence-level society. As the planet heats, the people rediscover arts such as carpentry, fashion, astronomy and agriculture.
The first section of the book focuses on Yuli and initial upbringing as part of a nomadic hunting tribe followed by his discovery and exploration of an underground society that is more civilized but less connected to the surface. Eventually he leaves this place to return to the surface and is a founding member of a civilization above. Yuli learns and grows in the cruelty of the underground civilization, discovering his unwillingness to join a priesthood of bullies and nurturing his longing for the openness of the sky.
In the second, longer section, the descendants of Yuli deal with issues related to the coming spring as well as the leadership of the settlement. The women want to embrace learning and distance themselves from the slavery of their winter lifestyle. The men are excited to tame and slaughter the local fauna as well as begin conquering other nearby settlements.
There are also many digressions into the scientific study of the planet being done by a space station manned by Earthlings orbiting Helliconia. This seems to have been the only device the author could think of to introduce information about things the planet's natives would have no knowledge of. It can be rather distracting at times, but is also valuable information. And, it's not like the story was in any way so interesting that a scientific diversion is much of an annoyance.
The whole books seems rather plodding and drawn-out, with day-to-day minutiae given as much attention as events which would move the story along. There is no major conflict or resolution or story arc. These people lived, they got a bit warmer, and they died. There is a bit of romance and a bit of infighting, which should serve to characterize or humanize the inhabitants some, but it's difficult to care about any of these characters.
Attention is given to the different religions of the humans and the Phagors and how they have developed in relation to the climate, as well as a concept regarding land octaves and air octaves, which I never really understood. Also, the humans are able to visit deceased ancestors by going into a sort of trance in which their soul sinks underground and can communicate with the dead, who are extremely unpleasant and not very forthcoming with useful information. I wasn't sure of the point of this, either.
There are two more books in this series, but I'm not interested in diving into them any time soon. ( )
1 vote EmScape | Apr 15, 2014 |
The first book of Aldiss' well-regarded trilogy about a planet where each season last for hundreds of years. This first instalment, as the title suggests, documents the planet's emergence from its harsh winter and into the first stirrings of spring. This coincides with great leaps forwards in the development of the humans who live there, from an almost stone age society that has borne the very harsh winter conditions stoically but with little room for invention or playfulness that might lead to advances in their way of life. We follow several generations of one community as it and they change rapidly with the coming of warmer weather that allows them to put their energies into more than simple survival. However, unlike Earth, the humans are not the only dominant species here - there is another group, called the Phagors (like Yetis with fearsome facial horns), who are mankind's deadly enemy, and who want to have their say in the affairs of man before the cold winter weather they favour disappears for many generations. All of this is being watched over by a space ship from Earth, which beams the pictures across the vast distances of space, where a thousand years later people watch it in a similar way to how the people watch the films of the savage in Brave New World.
Well, this is a strange book, and I'm really not sure what I think of it. There are certainly some fascinating ideas here, and Aldiss has clearly given the idea of how a planet and its flora and fauna could develop with such an extreme seasonal cycle lots of thought (he apparently spent some time consulting with leading scientists to make this aspect of the book super plausible). There's also lots of interesting ideas thrown in for good measure, like how the economy alters and grows in the community from being a basic hunter gatherer society to one with money and a network of traders, craftsmen and sellers. Alongside that, there is a sort of fledgling women's rights movement where the women want to be free from the yoke of purely manual labour and want the right to educate themselves, which the men are very contemptuous of, although not above taking the advice of when they come up with some ingenious solutions to some of the community's problems. Add to that a host of other minor themes, including the downright bizarre religious beliefs of both the humans and the Phagors, which both rely to some extent on consulting ones ancestors, either by talking to their mummified remains or entering the netherworld where they exist as mightily dissatisfied spirits that seem to begrudge their own living relatives their lives. These dissatisfied spirits are a part of what I didn't like about the book, which is how sort of...grubby and sordid everything feels in this world. There's barely a single likeable character and nobody in it seems to do anything out of anything other than self interest, and it gets a bit wearing after a while, so that what should be a really entertaining alternative world narrative just becomes a bit of an depressing slog. But all done very matter-of-factly, so you don't feel that that is the point the author is trying to make about the human condition - or maybe it is, but he just takes it as a given that that's what humans are like and works from there. There's enough interesting ideas here to keep me reading the rest of the series, but whether I enjoy them may be another matter. ( )
1 vote HanGerg | Apr 14, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors (23 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Brian W. Aldissprimary authorall editionscalculated
Altdorfer, AlbrechtCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gill, TimCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McPheeters, NealCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Information from the French Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
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.
First words
This is how Yuli, son of Alehaw, came to a place called Oldorando, where his descendants flourished in the better days that were to come.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0586053654, Paperback)

1st edition paperback, vg++

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:24 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

No library descriptions found.

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
8 avail.
13 wanted
2 pay

Popular covers


Average: (3.39)
0.5 1
1 8
2 14
2.5 7
3 65
3.5 20
4 46
4.5 5
5 23

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


You are using the new servers! | About | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 116,167,575 books! | Top bar: Always visible