Though I am familiar with the name of Brian W. Aldiss, I cannot say that I am at all familiar with his work. About the time that I came to recognize his name, I was no longer reading the science fiction of Clarke and Asimov that might have brought me to Aldiss, but instead I was reading the fantasies of Zelazny and Moorcock. Now, having broadened my reading horizons a bit, and seeing that Aldiss is retiring after this (note that this was first published in 2012), I thought it might be nice to explore a new work by a ‘Grand Master’ of science fiction.
Aldiss takes a pretty common story idea (colonization of Mars) and adds his stamp on it. I will say that I can’t recall ever reading a science fiction story that addressed the issue of childbirth and the difficulties that may occur due to a variety of differences affecting labor (in this case, no child has survived childbirth on Mars and the colonies (established by universities to rescue mankind) are looking to thrive, but the lack of progeny is demoralizing. The future of humanity is at risk, but Aldiss tosses in a little deus ex machina at the end to address some questions.
I very much like the ideas that are presented, but the story rambles and jumps around just a little too much to be the tight, cohesive book that it could be. The ending almost seems like a cop-out, and a new element is introduced into the book almost three-quarters of the way through — something that could easily be novel-worthy in itself, but is barely addressed again after the introduction, which was very disappointing.
I felt that this book needed much stronger editorial over-sight and wonder if sometimes, when an author has had a long, successful career, if editors are afraid to challenge or push the author. There are flashes of something really powerful here, but it just doesn’t carry through to a completely satisfying read.
Looking for a good book? Brian W. Aldiss’s latest (from 2012), and last book shows glimpses of the powerhouse he once was in the science fiction genre, but the story rambles and lacks cohesion.
I received a digital copy of the book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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Finches of Mars
author: Brian W. Aldiss
publisher: Open Road Integrated Media
paperback, 202 pages