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Starship by Brian Aldiss

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Book Information  
AuthorBrian Aldiss
GenreScience Fiction
Book Reviews / Comments (submitted by readers)
Submitted by Anonymous 
(Mar 01, 2005)

This marvellous novel is actually the US version of Non-Stop, published the previous year (1958) in the UK. It was published in the US in 1959.
It is a story of how humans manage in a closed system - in particular how their civilization degenerates once divorced fom authority figures. Aldiss is brilliant with language, characters, ideas, if cynical. But he is also amusing and the book reads as well today (2005) as when I first read it 40 years ago as a teenager.

Submitted by Tori Bergquist 
(Jan 11, 2005)

Written in 1951, Starship is an early science fiction work by Aldiss, featuring the story of a generation ship which loses its roots, degenerating in to a primitive society in space. The tale is told through the perspective of a young hunter, who embarks on a journey that gradually exposes the greater mystery and hidden secrets of the ship. The tale culiminates in a finale in which the primitive societies of the damage ship are forced in to inevitable change as the vessel fulfills its purpose, more or less.

Aldiss' tale came years before Sputnik, and it holds up well over the years simply because the story, relayed through the eyes of primitive survivors of the unknown cataclysm that befell the ship, are unfamiliar with the technology surrounding them, and so the tale manages to transcend the sometimes troubling problem of antiquated tech in vintage sci fi. Issues of mutation and change are also raised in the book, and an occasional oddity, such as telepathic mice, pop up at odd moments. The story, true to form for the period, remains on track and doesn't tend to get derailed with too many additional details, but more than enough to convey the sense of the strange and unusual.

To enjoy a classic tale of a generation ship gone wrong (maybe even the first, I couldn't say for sure) as well as the novel which was a major inspiration for the role playing games "Metamorphosis Alpha" and "Gamma World," definitely find and read Starship. The later novel, "Hothouse" is even better, and if Starship is your cup of tea, Hothouse will be a gem to find, too.

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