Sunday, February 26, 2012

Helliconia Spring (SF Novel)

Cycles. Climate Change. Forgotten Knowledge. Binary Stars. Hunting. Domestication. Slavery. Gender Roles. Ancestors and Descendants.

Helliconia Spring by Brain W. Aldiss won the 1982 BSFA and 1983 Campbell awards. It is the first book in the Helliconia Trilogy. Aldiss creates a memorable world. Not only does he populate it with interesting humans and non-humans, but he adds some twists. The first twist is that Helliconia has a traditional year that lasts over 400 days and a second type of year that lasts centuries. This creates dramatic climate changes on the planet. The second twist is that people from earth are watching the drama on the planet unfold. These twists give the reader a unique sense of time. The novel is mostly science fiction with some fantasy elements.

Briefly, the opening section of the novel describes the experiences of Yuli, who comes to live in Oldorando after his father is captured and enslaved by the phagors. Yuli goes on to become something of a folk hero. The majority of the book describes the experiences of Yuli’s descendant Little Yuli, his grandson Laintal Ay, and their contemporaries. For the most part, they live in a brutal, patriarchal society that looks at knowledge as a luxury. A handful of women try to create and maintain an academy and explore the history of their civilization. The changing climate brings changes to the society.

Helliconia Spring is my first book in the Worlds Without End Grand Master Challenge and the first book that I remember reading by Aldiss. He impressed me with the world that he created, and he made me think about the climate changes that are going on in our own world.

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