Brian Aldiss Calling It Quits

finches-of-marsFans of science fiction author Brian Aldiss, OBE  will have to find a way to carry on without any new novels from him.  Aldiss announced that his current work, Finches of Mars, will be his last in the genre.

One can hardly blame him for wanting to call it quits he is, after-all, nearly 88 years old.  When most people have already been sitting back for a couple of decades enjoying their retiring years Aldiss kept his mind busy by publishing several novels, a couple works of poetry, a whole collection of short stories which included at least one every month over the past nine months.

Fan expectation for Finches of Mars is very high but critics already aren’t being very kind saying things like although parts of it can be very philosophical demanding the reader to do more than just linear reading, overall they are calling it “uneven” and “bad.”

As one might guess from the title the novel addresses Mars colonization by earthlings wishing to escape the declining conditions on their home planet seeing Mars as a refuge from the violence, starvation and ultimate world war that appears to likely destroy everything built by humankind over the centuries of its existence on Earth.

The use of finches in the title is a novel idea and based on one of the rules impinged on those wanting to travel to Mars.  Refuges to the Red Planet are restricted from bringing two things - Religion and Pet Animals.  However, somebody, somehow is able to bring in contraband that includes a whole flock of finches.

Each reader of this awaited for book from Aldiss will have to make up their own mind rather they agree with the reviews of the many critics that this final work is less than the author’s finer works of the past.  If they are correct in their assessment then it would be a great disappointment for the last work of such a brilliant author to be one of his worse.

Speaking of Aldiss’ other works of science fiction prose his fans are fully aware that he is famous, or should I say infamous, for cloaking much of his writing is symbolic impressionism requiring the reader to step it up a notch or two from their normally mundane outlook of life; so it could be, and I for one am hoping this is the case with Finches of Mars, the critics being usually dual of mind anyway, have simply missed the point.


  1. Scott Pack says:

    You are right to suggest fans will need to make up their own minds but as the publisher of this book, and clearly biased as a result, I have to say that the critics have been broadly positive. The Guardian review, from which you take your quotes, was not fulsome in its praise but SFX magazine called it 'a terrific yarn, but more than that; as Aldiss casually throws out ideas and speculations, it’s a reminder of why he’s one of the giants of the field', the Daily Mail said that 'once again he demonstrates the power of his imagination', We Love This Book said 'a must-read for science fiction fans with the potential to be a modern classic' and Starburst gave it 8/10.

    I have no problem with books I publish getting bad reviews as long as the critic has clearly read and understood the book, and in the case of the Guardian piece he has done that and is entitled to his opinion, but I needed to correct the impression you give that 'overall they are calling it "uneven" and "bad"'. Just one critic has sad that. and while it is fair to quote him I think it is also fair to mention the positives that outweigh it.

  2. Sam Sloan says:

    As a fan of Aldiss I too was surprised at the sort of harshness that came from The Guardian reviewer but went with it anyway since I kind of understood their disappointment that Finches of Mars would be the swan song of such a great author. Some reviewers went out of their way to be harsh - like The Guardian - while others also went out of their way to gush over the book, such as SFX. I found the middle ground of the Adam Roberts review as seen on Our Daily to be the more realistic. Roberts stated "So what sort of a swan song does Finches of Mars represent? The short answer is: an odd one..." Finches of Mars was an odd book for Aldiss to say farewell to his long and illustrious career as an author. I also think Roberts got it right to close his review a bit upbeat with "Still, though flawed, there's enough of the echt Aldiss tang in Finches to remind fans of his glory days..." I like Aldiss and I love his work. I just wish he had produced something a bit more stellar than Finches of Mars "to bow out on."

    • Aldiss is a crap writer always has been. He started in a time when if you knew the right people you could get a book deal, and then once you've published a few books it is impossible to not keep putting out stuff. Frankenstein, dracula, Moreua, he was and always has been a hack. Thank god he is finally quitting. Harm, one of his last crappy books was all about GW Bush and how much he hated him, to the point that the horrible book had a interview with the author in the back. I mean give me a break, I was waiting for him to follow up Harm with a sequel for the Obama years of gitmo, but strangely nothing came out... weird. Aldiss sucks. Hasn't had a hit in years.

  3. Sorry. This book is disappointingly poor. I have read everything by Clark, Asimov, Niven, Banks plus many other greats. This work is feeble. A total wasre of money.Don'tbother.

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