This book was, according to wikipedia, originally assembled from five novellas and I think this shows. It starts exploring the predicament of a tribe of humans living on a branch of a giant banyan tree in a world where the sun is swelling preparatory to going nova and predatory plants are the dominant species. This is a fantastic concept and Aldiss devotes much imagination to cacti that shoot their needles, giant spider like plants that crawl on threads between the earth and the moon, monstrous venus fly traps and pitcher plants and the huge variety of ways that, in such an environment, vegetation could feed, escape becoming food, and reproduce.
The first section ends with the elders of the tribe travelling to the moon and mutating, leaving the squabbling youngsters behind. The rest of the book focuses on the fortunes of Gren, a rare (and reckless) man child, who becomes infected by a fungus and, in a symbiosis, develops intelligence.
But the problem with the book is that it is about things rather than people. Although the characters of Gren and his varying female companions are explored, the main interest in the book lies in how the characters overcome their hostile environment. There is quite a bit of explication as to the weird species Aldiss has explored but there is very little drama developed from the characters. I therefore found it rather boring.
Could have been brilliant. January 2016; 206 pages
- I live in Bedford, England. Having retired from teaching; I am now a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Threshold Concepts in the context of A-level Physics. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. I have also recently become a keen playgoer to London Fringe Theatre. I enjoy mostly classics and I read the playscripts and add those to the blog. I am a member of Bedford Writers' Circle. See their website here: http://bedford-writers.co.uk/ Follow me on twitter: @daja57