Non-Stop by Brian Aldiss

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Book Information  
AuthorBrian Aldiss
GenreScience Fiction
Book Reviews / Comments (submitted by readers)
Submitted by Geoff Foster (Mugwump) 
(Oct 19, 2003)

One thing is for sure in the field of Science Fiction; if you like your plate full of 'heroes' who are paragons of moral probity  Brian Wilson Aldiss is the author to give you a triple dose of stomach-churning indigestion.

Quite from where he draws inspiration for such spiteful, perfidious and yet deliciously appealing protagonists as those found in Non-Stop (not to mention his other works) is beyond me. And in all honesty  I don't really want to know.

Meet Roy Complain, member of the Greene tribe, a nomadic group of semi-primitives trapped aboard a malfunctioning generation star ship ploughing its way through the Universe. Roy's job is to forage for food throughout dark and foreboding corridors overrun by choking plant life.

Surprisingly enough, the members of the tribe appear completely oblivious to their actual predicament; the truth of their existence, and that of their environment, is shrouded in mystery  lost and corrupted over the centuries.

Only the fiercely redoubtable Father Henry Marapper suspects that there may be more to the 'world' than meets the eye, and when Roy's mate is abducted in the corridor jungles, the priest enlists the resourceful hunter for a dangerous trek into the unknown reaches of the spacecraft in search of answers.

Along for the journey come several other individuals who would appear to represent the absolute worst examples of humanity such as Wantage, hideously disfigured and the hopelessly psychotic, and Roffery, a brazenly corrupt meat salesman. Marapper himself, whilst being hugely entertaining, is a certifiable maniac with a penchant for dispensing a brand of 'religion' that probably wouldn't be out of place during the Spanish Inquisition.

In all honesty, you'd be hard pressed to imagine this disparate group of quarrelsome lunatics ever reaching their goal, but after negotiating their way through the hazardous Deadways (populated by all manner of strange and terrifying creatures) that's exactly what some of them achieve. Of course, a major spanner is thrown into the works when it is discerned that the 'goals' weren't what they bargained for.

An excellent example of the classic 'conceptual breakthrough' SF novel, Non-Stop delivers twist after devilish twist, and whilst it's possibly not of the same calibre as Aldiss's masterwork 'Hothouse' (the narrative does tend to meander at times), it would be unfair to regard this novel as anything less than an insightful and thoroughly entertaining piece of work.

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