Review – Brian W Aldiss shorts

Posted: October 13, 2014 in Fantasy, Sci-Fi
Tags: ,

If you’ve been following this blog, and I know some of you do (my heartfelt thanks!), then you’ll know that the Broken Empire trilogy left me with that hole that only a brilliant series of books can leave. Not wanting to dive into anything whilst Mark Lawrence’s words still percolated through my brain, I thought I’d read a few short stories to keep the old grey matter working.

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I’ve only read one Brian W Aldiss book before but I’m sad to say, I didn’t really enjoy the two short stories I read. Maybe it had something to do with how long ago they’d been written. I felt they hadn’t aged particularly well and that, though the writing and vocabulary was exemplary, there was just something missing. Maybe, however, it was me.

First up was Poor Little Warrior which left me thinking about just how far removed genre fiction is from these early thought experiments type stories. On one hand it’s a funny little tale of a time traveller going back to hunt big game dinosaurs to escape his tragic, small life. The kicker being that nothing can give him the release he needs from the fetters of his miserable existence – not even shooting a massive prehistoric monster. One the other hand, the twist at the end was as obvious as the message in the story and the whole thing felt naive, for want of a better word.

The second story, Swastika! left me with a wholly uneasy feeling. It’s another mental mind game that considers what it would be like if Hitler had survived WWII. Personally, I found it distasteful and odd that the author placed Hitler and his interviewer in a relationship of reverence. I understood the tone, that of making a musical of Hitler’s life being absurd and blackly comical but it came across as confused. I read it to the end hoping for something more yet found nothing in it to enjoy. In fact, it’s the reason I put the collection of short stories down and moved on to something else.

Borrowed copy
Published by Faber

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