Brian Aldiss


Brian Aldiss : biography

18 August 1925 –

Brian Aldiss also invented a form of extremely short story called the Minisaga. The Daily Telegraph hosted a competition for the best Minisaga for several years and Aldiss was the judge. He has edited several anthologies of the best Minisagas.

‘Metropolis’ limited edition print by Brian Aldiss He traveled to Yugoslavia, where he met Yugoslav fans in Ljubljana, Slovenia; he published a travel book about Yugoslavia; he published an alternative-history fantasy story about Serbian kings in the Middle Ages; and he wrote a novel called The Malacia Tapestry, about an alternative Dalmatia.

In addition to a highly successful career as a writer, Aldiss is also an accomplished artist whose abstract compositions or ‘isolées’ are influenced by the work of Giorgio de Chirico and Wassily communication, 2011. His first solo exhibition The Other Hemisphere was held in Oxford, August–September 2010, and the exhibition’s centrepiece ‘Metropolis’ (see figure) has since been released as a limited edition fine art print.

Awards and honours

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1990.

Aldiss was the "Permanent Special Guest" at the annual International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts (ICFA) from 1989 through 2008. He was also the Guest of Honor at the conventions in 1986 and 1999.

The Science Fiction Writers of America made him its 18th SFWA Grand Master in 2000 and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame inducted him in 2004.

He was awarded the title of Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to literature in Queen Elizabeth II’s Birthday Honours list, announced on 11 June 2005.

In January 2007 he appeared on Desert Island Discs. His choice of record to ‘save’ was Old Rivers sung by Walter Brennan, his choice of book was John Halpern’s biography of John Osborne, and his luxury a banjo. The full selection of eight favourite records is on the BBC website.

On 1 July 2008 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Liverpool in recognition of his contribution to literature.




  • The Rain Will Stop (The Pretentious Press, 2000), written in 1942
  • The Brightfount Diaries (1955)
  • Space, Time and Nathaniel (1957), collected short fiction — all of his science fiction published to date, including "T", his first published story, and "Not For an Age" (thirteen stories) plus one story hurriedly written to fill out the volume
  • Non-Stop (1958), US title Starship — A member of a culturally-primordial tribe investigates the dark, jungle filled corridors that surround him to ultimately uncover the true nature of the universe he inhabits.
  • Equator (1958), US title Vanguard from Alpha
  • The Canopy of Time (1959), US title Galaxies like Grains of Sand, collected short fiction (US format slightly different)
  • No Time Like Tomorrow (1959), collected short fiction — published for the US market by New American Library imprint Signet Books (contents: T, Not for an Age, Poor Little Warrior!, The Failed Men, Carrion Country, Judas Danced, Psyclops, Outside, Gesture of Farewell, The New Father Christmas, Our Kind of Knowledge)
  • The Interpreter (1960); US title Bow down to Nul — A short novel about the huge, old galactic empire of Nuls, a giant, three-limbed, civilised alien race. Earth is just a lesser-than-third-class colony ruled by a Nul tyrant whose deceiving devices together with good willing but ineffective attempts of a Nul signatory to clarify the abuses and with the disorganised earthling resistance reflect the complex relationship existing between imperialists and subject races which Aldiss himself had the chance of seeing at first hand when serving in India and Indonesia in the forties.
  • The Male Response (US 1959, UK 1961)
  • The Primal Urge (1961)
  • Hothouse (1962) — Set in a far future Earth, where the earth has stopped rotating, the Sun has increased output, and plants are engaged in a constant frenzy of growth and decay, like a tropical forest enhanced a thousandfold; a few small groups of elvish humans still live on the edge of extinction, beneath the giant banyan tree that covers the day side of the earth. This assemblage of stories, published in abridged form in the American market as The Long Afternoon of Earth, won the Hugo Award for short fiction in 1962.
  • The Airs of Earth (1963), US title Starswarm, collected short fiction
  • The Dark Light Years (1964) — The encounter of humans with the utods, gentle aliens whose physical and mental health requires wallowing in mud and filth, who are not even recognised as intelligent by the humans.
  • Greybeard (1964) — Set decades after the Earth’s population has been sterilised as a result of nuclear bomb tests conducted in Earth’s orbit, the book shows an emptying world, occupied by an aging, childless population.
  • Best SF stories of Brian Aldiss (1965); US title But who can replace a Man?’
  • Earthworks (1965)
  • The Impossible Smile (1965), previously a Science Fantasy magazine serial under the pseudonym "Jael Cracken"
  • The Saliva Tree and other strange growths (1966), collected short fiction — Title story "The Saliva Tree" was written to mark the centenary of H. G. Wells’s birth, and won the Nebula Award for the best novella of 1964.
  • An Age (1967), US title Cryptozoic! — a dystopic time-travel novel
  • Report on Probability A (1967)
  • Barefoot in the Head (1969) — Perhaps Aldiss’s most experimental work, this first appeared in several parts as the ‘Acid Head War’ series in New Worlds. Set in a Europe some years after a flare-up in the Middle East led to Europe being attacked with bombs releasing huge quantities of long-lived hallucinogenic drugs. Into an England with a population barely maintaining a grip on reality comes a young Serb, who himself starts coming under the influence of the ambient aerosols, and finds himself leading a messianic crusade. The narration and dialogue reflects the shattering of language under the influence of the drugs, in mutating phrases and puns and allusions, in a deliberate echo of Finnegans Wake.
  • Neanderthal Planet (1970), collected short fiction
  • Horatio Stubbs (omnibus edition, The Horace Stubbs Saga, 1985)
    • The Hand-Reared Boy (1970)
    • A Soldier Erect (1971)
    • A Rude Awakening (1978)
  • The Moment of Eclipse (1971), collected short fiction — British Science Fiction Association (BSFA) Award. British Science Fiction Association. Archived 2011-05-19. Retrieved 2013-04-25.
  • The Book of Brian Aldiss (1972), UK title The Comic Inferno, collected short fiction
  • Frankenstein Unbound (1973) — A 21st century politician is transported to 19th century Switzerland where he encounters both Frankenstein and Mary Shelley. It was the basis for the 1990 film of the same title, directed by Roger Corman.
  • The Eighty Minute Hour (1974) — A weird and ambitious "space opera" whose characters actually sing. The world is in chaos after nuclear war causes time slips and even those that believe they rule the world have trouble knowing where and when they are.
  • The Malacia Tapestry (1976)
  • Brothers of the Head (1977) — A large-format book, illustrated by Ian Pollock, tells the strange story of the rock stars Tom and Barry Howe, Siamese twins with a third, dormant head that eventually starts to awaken. Adapted for film by Keith Fulton and Lou Pepe, released in 2006.
  • Last Orders and Other Stories (1977)
  • Enemies of the System (1978)
  • Pile (1979) Poem
  • New Arrivals, Old Encounters (1979)
  • Moreau’s Other Island (1980)
  • Squire Quartet
    • Life In The West (1980)
    • Forgotten Life (1988)
    • Remembrance Day (1993)
    • Somewhere East Of Life (1994)
  • Helliconia trilogy
    • Helliconia Spring (1982) — BSFA Award; Campbell Memorial Award; Nebula Award finalist
    • Helliconia Summer (1983) — BSFA finalist; Locus Award, fourth place
    • Helliconia Winter (1985) — BSFA; Nebula finalist; Locus, fifth place
  • Seasons in Flight (1984)
  • Courageous New Planet (c. 1984)
  • The Year before Yesterday (1987) — Fix-up of Equator (1958) and The Impossible Smile (1965)
  • Ruins (1987)
  • A Man in His Time (1988) ISBN 0-689-12052-4
  • A Romance of the Equator: The Best Fantasy Stories (1989) ISBN 0-689-12053-2
  • Dracula Unbound (1990)
  • A Tupolev too Far (1994)
  • Somewhere East of Life: Another European Fantasia (1994)
  • The Secret of This Book (1995), US title Common Clay: 20-Odd Stories
  • White Mars or, the Mind Set Free (1999), by Aldiss and Roger Penrose
  • Super-Toys Last All Summer Long and Other Stories of Future Time (2001), collected short fiction — Title story "Super-Toys Last All Summer Long" was the basis for the Steven Spielberg film A.I.: Artificial Intelligence
  • Super-State (2002)
  • The Cretan Teat (2002)
  • Affairs at Hampden Ferrers (2004)
  • Cultural Breaks (2005), collected short fiction
  • Jocasta (2005) A re-telling of Sophocles’ Theban tragedies concerning Oedipus and Antigone. In Aldiss’ novel, myth and magic are vibrantly real, experienced through an evolving human consciousness. Amidst various competing interpretations of reality, including the appearance of a time-travelling Sophocles, Aldiss provides an engaging alternative explanation of the Sphinx’s riddle.
  • Sanity and the Lady (2005)
  • HARM (2007) — Campbell Award nominee The Award recognises second and third-place runners-up. Recent lists of finalists are long, 14 in 2008.
  • Walcot (2010) — Family saga spanning the 20th century