Who wrote this book and when?
Brian Aldiss published it in 1985.

Has there been a film version?
No, I think it’s much too epic in it’s time span to make a movie out of. C’mon – a movie covering 2,600 years? No thanks. I could barely make it through Episode III.

Who are the important characters?
Luterin Shokerandit – the only son of a yelk herder who goes off to earn honor for the family name in battle and ends up making an epic journey and influencing the course of his planet
Toress Lahl – a recent widowed doctor captured by Luterin and made his slave
Harbin Fashnalgid – an army deserter who falls in love with a slave girl and travels with Luterin
Captain Asperamanka – the leader of the greatest army of Sibornal

What’s it about?
The final piece in the Helliconia story covers the journey of Luterin Shokerandit from warrior to messenger, traitor, traveler, isolationist, radical and finally back to warrior. He captures as his slave the beautiful doctor Toress Lahl – a foreigner to him. Together, they are selected to take a message to the ruler of Helliconia, the Oligarch. As they race from Captain Asperamanka’s army towards the capitol, they race not only traitors and murderers but the inevitable plague of the Fat Death which causes cannibalism and the coming Weyr Winter, the winter which lasts for over 600 years.

Why is this book a classic/bestseller?
Probably because of the depth and richness of the planet which Aldiss creates and the points he makes about our own existence on Earth through the example of Helliconia.

Do you recommend I read this book?
If you’ve read the first two, then yes.

Why did this book make your list?
It was on a list of the Top 100 Science Fiction Novels.

Has it won any awards?
Not it specifically, but the author has won numerous awards for his writing.

Favorite quotes:
“There were those – lovers of secrecy – who rose almost at the time that Odim was settling to sleep. There were those – lovers of night – who liked to be about before dawn, in order to get ahead of their fellow men. There were those – lovers of chill – whose constitutions were such that they found satisfaction in the small hours when human resistance is at its lowest. ” – p 61

“This was an area of small craftsman – silversmiths, watchmakers, bookbinders, and artists of various kinds. To one side of the street stood a small theatre where extraordinary plays were produced, plays which could not fill the theaters in the center of town; plays trafficking in magic and science, fantasies dealing with both possible and impossible things (for both sorts were much alike), tragedies dealing with broken teacups, comedies dealing with wholesale slaughter. Also satires. Irony and satire were things the authorities could neither understand nor abide. So the theatre was often closed. It was closed at present, and the street looked the drabber for it.” – p 88

Anything else?
Aldiss was chums with C.S. Lewis. And – I don’t understand why the first book “Helliconia Spring” talked mostly about the Helliconian winter and the last book “Helliconia Winter” talks mostly about the fall.

Personal thoughts:
Out of all the books in this trilogy (I say that like there are more than 3. . . ) this one is my favorite. Granted – all of them were tedious at times to wade through, the names were nearly impossible to pronounce, and the whole Avernus space station thing got a little hairy there at the end. But still, I’m glad I forced myself to read this series in its entirety. I was especially pleased that – while this book followed its forerunners by telling many stories at once – we didn’t skip around through out hundreds of years. No, this book merely covers a decade of Helliconia time. The Earth went through about 8,000 years of history, most of it depressing, through this book. And it got kind of new age-ish at the end of Earth’s tale, which I absolutely detest in sci fi books. But Helliconia itself finally found a tiny little niche in my heart. Even though their situation ended dire-ly (is that a word?) and most of the characters in the final book were very very annoying. I still empathized with them. And if you’ve read/reading/will read this series – you’ll know just how important that is.

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