Hothouse

Hothouse

by Brian W. Aldiss

Aldiss nv F&SF Feb 61 Nomansland Brian W.

Aldiss nv F&SF Apr 61 Undergrowth Brian W.

Aldiss nv F&SF Sep 61 Evergreen Brian W.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Science Fiction
  • Rating: 3.64
  • Pages: 309
  • Publish Date: December 1st 1984 by Baen
  • Isbn10: 0671559303
  • Isbn13: 9780671559304

What People Think about "Hothouse"

Mile-wide plant spiders crawl from the Earth to the moon on vast webs. A far-future earth dominated by colossal plants with giant spiders crawling from the earth to the moon and back! I think some of this is due to the book being a patchwork of several of Aldiss' stories set on the Hothouse earth. I love the setting but I don't think the story ever came close to doing it justice.

This book is all about WORLD-BUILDING and Brian Aldiss has created a TRIPtastically SUPERB vision of a far future Earth unlike anything I have ever read. In the distant future, evolution has decided to BOOT the Animal Kingdon square in the nether-regions and plants have developed into the dominant Kingdom on Earth. Anyway, in this far future, the world is basically one giant rain forest of densely packed plant-life that has evolved some serious "don't mess with me" offensive and defensive capabilities. Please note that this is not hard SF and the explanations for how the world developed into the Garden of Hell are not plausible but that is not the point. The plot itself is mostly an excuse to travel the planet and observe and comment on the strange new world the Earth has become.

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 feeds and control them through a tail which functions like an umbilical cord. The aggressive environment reminds me of the action-packed Deathworld 1 by Harry Harrison (long-time collaborator of Brian Aldiss), the aforementioned The Day of the Triffids, and - strangely enough - my favorite computer game Plants vs.

After reaching the halfway mark, I threw this book down (you can read later why) only to pick it up again because 1) I think it unfair when someone rates/reviews a book they haven't finished, as I have never felt that was a fair way to judge a book, potentially destroying an author's chance to reach an audience, perhaps even ruining their career, and 2) This was a HUGO AWARD WINNING BOOK and I strongly believed there must have been a good reason why! I wanted so badly to like it, believing it had several things going for it. After man and all life on Earth faced a post-apocalyptic radiation scenario, the sun-side of our planet re-invented itself into a lush, tropical cryptobotanical (I think I made that word up) forest-world where all plant-life and vegetation evolved into sentience, of lesser and greater degrees. 3. Man has (d)evolved into almost fairy-like versions of ourselves, originally without wings, very light on their feet, with climbing skills that would put most orangutans, spider monkeys, and lemurs to shame. Or, at least there didn't seem to be for over half of the book (more on that later); just a bunch of fairy-sized proto-humans running around trying to survive. We are glad great herder, that you make us starve if our dying makes you have a laugh and a gay song and another sandwich game. I picked it up again, and although I never came to like the 'tummy-belly' men, or most of the names of the creatures and characters; the carry-catchy-kind, the Traversers, the Arablers, etc., I was shocked at how engaged I became in the story, even liking the plot that somehow, subtly, snuck right up into the story with an ease and grace I feel was either genius or wonderfully accidental! It even went so far as to have this great scientific philosophy wrap-up detailed in only a few pages as to why all life on our future Earth had evolved so, and where it was quickly heading. It had several things I could've done without, especially the 'tummy-belly' men, some horrible names as I said earlier, and the writing sometimes had me wondering if it was translated from a different language into English because it often felt disjointed, and I would've really liked to have had more focus on certain creatures other than a few that were in the story too much, but, it was very entertaining and makes me crave a sequel or something similar.

I was surprised how much I liked this riot of imagination of post-humans clinging to survival in a world where plants have taken over. The dangers are many, but with tribal knowledge and teamwork and enough focus on breeding some form of human life persists when nearly all other vertebrates and even most insects have become extinct. After recent reads of science books on the current human caused threats to biological diversity of the planet, it was fascinating for me to experience a scenario where excessive diversity among plants puts us almost out of the picture.

With time, it moved from being a crown of spongy fungus that looked like a brain to inhabit the slowly enlarged cavity of our modern heads, until all man thought this was the natural order. To have a hardy and evolved fungus drop upon you in the middle of the jungle to give you heightened intelligence, you'd think that would be a good thing, right? These stories were written in 1961 before they were put together as one novel the next year. As I was reading it, I kept thinking to myself that this novel was the inspiration for Dune. Yes. Do I see why one of the short stories that made up this novel won the Hugo in '62? Yes. Can I imagine that during the 5 year time that Frank Herbert was writing Dune, he got inspired while reading the magazines these stories were published?

And although I didnt like the language, the behavior, the way the characters are shaped, I must admit they are perfectly integrated in the world. The author lived many years in India and was particularly impressed by the great banyan tree which now occupies more than 4 acres (2 acres when Aldiss came across it) and looks like a forest; this majestic tree was the inspiration for this book: More info in it: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Gre... Bottom line is that, even if I loved the worldbuilding and the message it carries, that Nature is the mighty ruler of this planet which will evolve and survive no matter what and humanity is just a tiny, insignificant speck in its kingdom, the characters annoyed me to no end; hence the three stars.

Human characters wooden Originally posted at Fantasy Literature Yeah, Hothouse (1962) was definitely written with some chemical assistance. It may have been written as a set of five short stories in 1961, but its a timeless and bizarre story of a million years in the future when the plants have completely taken over the planet, which has stopped rotating, and humans are little green creatures hustling to avoid becoming plant food. And this book never lets up on the crazy vegetable creatures and pitiful rat-like humans. Then there is the fish creature carried by a crippled human called the Catch-Carry-Kind, a prophet who knows the sun is dying and Earth is doomed. Aldiss Non-Stop (1958), Hothouse (1962), and Greybeard (1964) were chosen by David Pringle for his Science Fiction: The 100 Best Novels, and theyve been on my TBR list for years.

Both imagine a future world that in some ways is more similar to the prehistoric past, the (Jungian?) notion of an inherited species memory is important in both, and the importance of the time that both authors spent in the Far East - Ballard as a boy, Aldiss - if I remember correctly - as part of his military service, is not something that you have to lift stones to see. Aldiss's interest in the temporary and contingent nature of our human lives, I feel is more philosophical and certainly more abstract than Ballards which is as visceral as you would expect given his experiences as related in a slightly fictionalised form in Empire of the Sun. But I may well be misleading myself on the basis of Aldiss beginning and ending The Helliconia Trilogy with quotations from Lucretius, which no doubt predisposed me to assume an equally philosophical turn to Aldiss' mind.

The other part is a frozen wasteland ,in perpetual darkness...It's a plant world for sure.The few humans left, have returned to the trees,(there is just one,a Banyan, in reality), and turned green, the humans I mean.A "Hothouse" (the name of the novel originally), in fact Terra has become.These people are primitive.Living high above and not even being able to see the ground.No technology, no knowledge of their past, ignoramuses, trying to survive against man eating plants.Lily-yo, is the leader of a small band of humans.Always alert against the plants, who are more animal( almost extinct here), than vegetable.The tribe has pieces of carved wood which they carry around, and call their souls!When one of them dies ,which happens often . Gren, a boy man rebel and others, are left behind to form a new group.

Brian Wilson Aldiss was one of the most important voices in science fiction writing today.