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Gråskæg by Brian W. Aldiss
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Gråskæg (original 1964; edition 1973)

by Brian W. Aldiss

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9112023,698 (3.42)45
Human reproduction has ceased and society slowly spirals in this "adult Lord of the Flies" by a Grand Master of Science Fiction (San Francisco Chronicle). After the "Accident," all males on Earth become sterile. Society ages and falls apart bit by bit. First, toy companies go under. Then record companies. Then cities cease to function. Now Earth's population lives in spread‑out, isolated villages, with its youngest members in their fifties. When the people of Sparcot begin to make claims of gnomes and man‑eating rodents lurking around their village, Greybeard and his wife set out for the coast with the hope of finding something better.… (more)
Member:mskarbiniks
Title:Gråskæg
Authors:Brian W. Aldiss
Info:Notabene, 1973.
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Greybeard by Brian W. Aldiss (1964)

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» See also 45 mentions

English (17)  Spanish (1)  Danish (1)  Czech (1)  All languages (20)
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
This was the next book in the SF Masterwork series published in 1964. Brian Aldiss was a prolific author of mainly science fiction novels as well as a critic and editor of science fiction stories. He was an English author and particularly with Greybeard follows in the tradition of other English authors of the genre: H G Wells and John Wyndham in that his books are generally well written and avoid super-hero characters. Greybeard is a dystopian novel and is set in the English home counties which lends itself to a more parochial environment.

Greybeard is 56 years old and is carrying out sentry duty around the lands of Sparscot a small community somewhere near Oxford in England. He and his wife are the youngest people in a community struggling for survival after the Accident. In the late 1960's huge atomic bombs had been tested in the earths upper atmosphere which had resulted in a shower of radiation material which caused sickness and death on all parts of the globe and affected the reproductive organs of all human beings and larger animals. There had been no children born for over 50 years. Sparscot is run as a fiefdom by a local strongman and Greybeard has lived there for 15 years, but the warlord is losing his grip and Greybeard has been preparing a boat to take him and his wife down the river Thames to the communities that are said to be surviving along the coast. The dwindling population and gradual sinking of the land has left much of the countryside battling against rising water levels. Massive lakes have formed and the natural world has quickly started to seize back control. Rodents and small mammals who have been largely unaffected have become predators of an ageing human population. There are rumours of goblins living in the woods.................

Aldiss takes the theme of an ageing population with no hope for future generations. People who have survived the aftermath of the accident and who have not succumbed to melancholia continue to fight for their lives. Religious communities have sprung up and folklore and magic is increasingly playing a role in the lives of the survivors, rumours of children being born persist.

A world of wrinkly old people slowly losing their grip on day to day life maybe a nightmare for some people and I look around at some of my friends and I can appreciate that. Aldiss takes these fears and weaves them into a story where petty squabbles and reluctance to work for the good of the community take precedence. The strength of this novel is the creation of a world, where human beings are slowly sinking into a quagmire that they have created. In many ways it seems all too believable and the gloom and melancholic atmosphere was felt particularly keenly by this older reader. It does not work so well as a road movie novel, because Greybeard hardly gets going in his bid to reach the coast. 4 stars for readers over the age of sixty. ( )
  baswood | May 19, 2024 |
incredibly boooooring! ( )
  milosdumbraci | May 5, 2023 |
Goed geschreven en goed uitgewerkt relaas van
het leven na een nucleaire catastrofe die het menselijke ras onvruchtbaar maakt. Goeie setting, schone karakters. Niets dat je omverblaast, maar steeds aangenaam en prettige spanningsboog. ( )
  GertDeBie | Mar 22, 2021 |
https://nwhyte.livejournal.com/3610657.html

I wish I'd read it before P.D. James' The Children of Men, which took the same core concept in a slightly different direction. Indeed, The Children of Men has such strong similarities - humanity stopped reproducing 25 years ago, our protagonists undergo a weary odyssey to Oxford - that it's impossible to accept that she hadn't read this first.

It's a quiet, understated, very pessimistic book, written in 1964 when Aldiss was only in his thirties (but had just gone through a divorce and the Cuban Missile Crisis). Stoats are apparently a big problem in the late 2020s. The human race ends with a whimper rather than a bang. There is a lot of Aldissian stuff here, and you certainly couldn't mistake the writing style for anyone else's. But I didn't in the end feel that it was one of his more memorable books; I guess for its time, it caught the Zeitgeist well, but it has now been overtaken by events, and by P.D. James. ( )
  nwhyte | Mar 2, 2021 |
The Publisher Says: The sombre story of a group of people in their fifties who face the fact that there is no younger generation coming to replace them; instead nature is rushing back to obliterate the disaster they have brought on themselves. Was slighty revised by the author in 2012.

My Review: First published in 1964, at the tail end of one of the scariest passages during the Cold War, this post-apocalyptic look at the resilience and the lack of same in the human spirit was involving and affecting. It was also a disorganized mess.

Chapters 1-3 take place in 2025 and on, or the mid-point of the story. Chapter 4 takes place as the world finds its way through the crisis. Chapter 5 has us back in about 2030...Chapter 6 is early days of the Accident, as the sterilization of Earth's humans is called...and then back to 2030 in Chapter 7. It's kind of a confused way to tell a story. Not that it's a complicated story, but it's always nice to have things move along in sequence when there's no reason, stylistic or otherwise, for them not to.

Aldiss' Introduction to the 2012 edition tells of the genesis of the story...a divorce, a general reduction of his life to solitude, and a desperate yearning for his lost kids...and I must say that this Introduction is what kept me going for the whole short 237ish pages. I could relate to his sense of loss and his almost desperate longing. I looked for those things in his text and really didn't find them too terribly often. Many things occur in the book, but few of them happen, if you see what I mean; Greybeard, the main character, and Martha, Greybeard's wife, aren't prone to overstatement. Jeff, a character whose slippery presence is highly emotionally charged, makes little impact in the end. Charley, the dopey religious nut, isn't much of a shakes for shakin' stuff up either. Dr. Jingadangelow (!) the snake oil salesman is fun...I picture Eddie Izzard playing the role in a movie...but rattles on and rockets off ballistically.

I didn't love the book, but it's got at its heart a futureless bleakness that resonate with. After 50 years, the Accident's specifics don't quite line up with reality, but I have no smallest problem imagining specifics that end us up in the same place. One day soon, y'all should go read Sir Roy Calne's book Too Many People. I can see that causing the Accident with all too great a clarity of inner vision.

On the low end of the recommend-to-others scale, and then only to those who like post-apocalyptic stories. ( )
  richardderus | Apr 30, 2020 |
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» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Aldiss, Brian W.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Griffiths, JohnCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Reichlin, SaulNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Taylor, MarkCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
White, TimCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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with my love to Clive and Wendy hoping that one day they will understand the story behind this story
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A rifle was slung or his left shoulder by a leather strap.
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Human reproduction has ceased and society slowly spirals in this "adult Lord of the Flies" by a Grand Master of Science Fiction (San Francisco Chronicle). After the "Accident," all males on Earth become sterile. Society ages and falls apart bit by bit. First, toy companies go under. Then record companies. Then cities cease to function. Now Earth's population lives in spread‑out, isolated villages, with its youngest members in their fifties. When the people of Sparcot begin to make claims of gnomes and man‑eating rodents lurking around their village, Greybeard and his wife set out for the coast with the hope of finding something better.

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