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Editorial Reviews. Review. “One of the most important SF writers of the 20th century. Super-State: A Novel of a Future Europe - Kindle edition by Brian W. Aldiss. Download it once and read it on your Kindle device, PC, phones or tablets .
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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Accessed 4 July Namespaces Article Talk. Views Read Edit View history. Languages Add links. By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. At six Aldiss was sent to boarding school where his miseries deepened. His life in such places only really looked up, he says, at 18, when the matron seduced him.

He put some of that experience into a conventional novel, scandalous in its day, called The Hand-Reared Boy, in The sequel was A Soldier Erect; a third and final volume rather petered out.

But the would-be trilogy is an example of his extraordinary range and fertility as a writer. It is not just that he has written huge amounts of science fiction more than 20 novels; more than short stories , and edited a great deal: there are also pages of autobiography; a four-novel series about the last days of the cold war; criticism Billion Year Spree, later revised and updated as Trillion Year Spree.

There have also been two volumes of poetry and a series of comic short stories set in a bookshop.

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Super-State: A Novel of a Future Europe

Aldiss, who has almost as many voices as Anthony Burgess, continues to exercise them all with undiminished vigour. His friend the science fiction novelist Harry Harrison says: "You can read all his books for their human content, even though science fiction is traditionally driven by plot and not by character. But his have all the strengths of a good novel.

A lot of those we think of as professional writers are not really so, in the sense that Anthony Burgess would have used the term. But Brian can turn his hand to anything, which is not true of many literary writers. The early science fiction stories he read were pulps, printed on the cheapest paper, ground out by the cheapest writers: "In , when I was 11, destiny struck.

Destiny led my tiny if palsied hands to buy that. I felt this was the real world: that it was much more important than anything I knew before. The thrill of science fiction was distinct from that of literature, though he read widely even as a child: "Before I discovered Astounding, I had been a dinosaur expert: I would hold lessons in school about them.

But the world of science fiction was different, better, more exciting. It did stretch my imagination. You read it over and over, an obsessive reading. I had read HG Wells before, but that was a shade too respectable. The thing about the pulps was that your father didn't want you to read them.

Brian Aldiss: Super-State - an infinity plus review

From school, he went straight into the army in and was shipped out to Burma as a signaller. He never fired a shot nor even saw a Japanese soldier; but there was plenty of danger, hardship and comradeship; all of which he relished. The British had more or less inherited Indonesia from the Dutch; there was a sporadic guerrilla war, which made it quite dangerous to be a British soldier, but Aldiss was happy, as far from Norfolk as a young man could possibly come.

He loved the heat, the smells of spice and wooden houses, and the women. He ran a cinema for the troops and fell in love with a married Chinese woman who hoped he would take her away. She went to Singapore, expecting him to follow, but the army sent him to Hong Kong and Macau instead and he never saw or heard from her again. Returning from the army and the far east in , Aldiss found a job in Sanders' bookseller's in Oxford.

He married the owner's secretary, Olive, in He was determined to be a writer and produced a novel based on his Sumatran experiences, which he threw away.

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His son Clive was born in and Aldiss's first literary success came the same year with The Brightfount Diaries, a book of short stories based on bookshop life. This allowed him to leave the shop, by then odious to him. Following publication of his novel, Aldiss became literary editor of the Oxford Mail. He also won an Observer prize for a short story set in the year The prize money enabled him to stay at home and write all day for a while, something his wife did not appreciate.

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He says now that he felt compelled to repeat the pattern of his own childhood, where the birth of a daughter had resulted, as he saw it, in his expulsion from his original family. They were reconciled but the marriage finally collapsed in He was left without even a typewriter. He could afford to buy a new one only when his novel Hothouse, about a giant banyan tree that covers half the globe, which had been published in , was finally sold in America.

His wife sold the house and took the children to the Isle of Wight, where he could not see them nearly as often as he would have wanted. For some years he lived a rather desperate Bohemian life, full of drink and loneliness, in a disreputable part of Oxford near Jericho long since demolished to make room for a multi-storey car park.

He would walk for miles at night, and in those years wrote Greybeard, a parable of England left without any children after a terrible plague.

Europe Superstate

From this devastation he was rescued by Margaret Manson, a Scottish secretary to the editor of the Oxford Mail, who became his second wife in , when she was 31 and he An unaffected enthusiasm for women runs through his memories. He is both lustful and extremely uxorious. In Macau as a soldier he took himself, he writes in his autobiography, to a brothel, "a whorehouse of huge proportions, a flesh factory, feebly lit, steaming, odorous.

Because of the heat the girl wore only vest-like garments, which reached down to, but failed to cover, their neat little wildernesses of pubic hair I had a proper respect for those small furry entrances into pleasure; in that whorehouse, they hung like so many fruits on a gigantic Christmas tree. It is worth noting that the man who so relished whores in his youth came to love his wife Margaret so much that when she was dying of cancer nearly four years ago he could observe that "visitors now come to see Margaret.

I'm the one who serves tea, coffee or wine, according to the time of day.


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I'm now just Margaret's Husband - an enviable title, I'd say! The wound of being a widower is still visible on him. He goes through the motions of an interview with courtesy and liberal applications of Greek brandy and he is generous with his anecdotes. He is a large man, who gangles on any normally sized chair - he is currently wearing a neck-brace from a recent car accident - but when he talks to a woman, to a neighbour for instance, the marionette is for a moment restrung.

Ballard says, "He is enormously generous and ebullient. There is nothing small or crabby about him at all. He combines a writer's voracious lack of shame with an unselfconscious respect for decency in a way which is extremely rare. These two wonderful and hopeful quests are all but lost in the swamp of humanity's greed and self-obsession, amidst wars and natural disasters, and of course are not immune from suffering these problems themselves. This novel's view of the human condition includes murder and rape, infatuation and Alzheimer's disease, fanatics and bewildered robots.

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Black and bitter but very funny indeed, Aldiss cares about us and this mildly optimistic novel offers some hope.