Who wrote this book and when?
Brian Aldiss OBE published this in 1983.
Has there been a film version?
Who are the important characters?
King JandolAnganol – the King of Borlien, struggling with his weakening power over events in his life and his country
Queen MyrdemInggala/The Queen of Queens – Queen of Borlien, one of the most beautiful women in Helliconia, more beloved than the king, lusted after by nearly every man alive
Billy Xiao Pin – a young man from the Avernus space station who won the Helliconian lottery
SartoriIrvrash – a former Borlienese chancellor, an atheist and scientist
Princess Simoda Tal – princess of Oldorando, half Madi
RobaydayAnganol – The prince of Borlien, slightly insane
CaroBansity – a deuteroscopist (someone who does autopsies and necropsies)
Yuli – a phagor runt who is the King’s pet
Abathy – a prostitute
Krillia Muntras “The Ice Captain” – a man who sells ice to the hotter regions of Helliconia, lives beside a glacier, and is friends with nearly everyone
What’s it about?
This is the next chapter in the Helliconia series – about a planet part of a binary star system – whose seasons are centuries long. Unlike the first novel in this series which covers hundreds of years, Helliconia Summer spans only six months. It examines in depth, the breakdown of the relationship between the King and Queen of Borlien. The king is struggling to maintain control of his country and to solidify relations between Borlien and Oldorando (the center of the worship of Akhanaba). The Queen is struggling with her new exile and confusion about the dwindling relationship between herself and the man she loves. Also, a man named Billy Xiao Pin from the observatory center above the planet is able to make his way down to the surface in pursuit of a glimpse of the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen; and to try to shake the Helliconians from their beliefs in a false god. In the background, is a crazy prince, a chancellor determined to destroy religion, and the scheming of monks and kings alike, and a ever nearing sun which is causing forests and plains to spontaneously catch fire.
Why is this book a classic?
It is part of one of the most in depth trilogies of science fiction – covering nearly aspect of a human but not earth bound civilization.
Do you recommend I read this book?
If you are a hard-core science fiction reader, yes. If you are more of a fantasy/science fiction reader, you probably wouldn’t appreciate this series.
Why did this book make your list?
It’s part of the Helliconia Series, one of the most famous British science fiction series ever.
Has it won any awards?
Not this series, but other works by Brian Aldiss have.
“He had been lovingly brought up by his mother, the queen of queens, and yet he knew that in all human happiness lies an unremitting sorrow.” – p65
“There would be much nodding of approval at JandolAnganol’s choice of which piece of Darvlish’s anatomy to exhibit. Not the Skull’s feet, which had carried the man into skirmish after skirmish. Not his genitals, which had fathered so many bastards to create future trouble. Not his hands, which had silenced many a foe. But his head, where all the other mischief had been co-ordinated.” – p231
“True worship is solitary; when the religious gather together, they put on pageants for their gods.” – p 339
Brian Aldiss was first President of the British Science Fiction Association; Arthur Clarke is the current president.
So far, I’ve completed 2/3 of the Helliconia series by Brian Aldiss. They’re categorized as science fiction, and while they are most definitely fiction, you can’t count out the science part of it. Sometimes I felt like I needed a degree to follow Aldiss’ lengthy explanations of the hows and whys Helliconian ecology was the way it was. There was also such a psychological edge to the story that after a few chapters, there was no way you could ever doubt the reasons for the Queen of England awarding him for his services to British Literature. He is truly an all-encompassing author. He doesn’t just cover one aspect of Helliconian culture, nor just one species; he examines the phagors and humans and madis, their history and culture, their thought processes, and their motivations. He studies the evolutionary history of many of the animals of Helliconia. And he also integrates the lives of both the earthlings on Avernus, and the 1,000 year distant Earth.