Non-Stop, or Adventures in Reviewer Parallax

While I’m off …. let’s pretend I’m off reading, researching, and writing up new content, here’s another retro review.

This one has been mentioned more than once here, so you might as well see the original.

From January 6, 2001 …

Review: Non-Stop, Brian Aldiss, 1958.Non-Stop

Written as response to Robert A. Heinlein’s Orphans of the Sky, a novel he felt lacking in emotion, Aldiss’ novel is a classic generation starship tale.

The idea that their universe is the inside of a giant spaceship is known but derided in the Greene tribe. They’re a barbarous lot. They destroy books whenever they find them. The Teaching, a Freudian inspired religion with its talk of id and ego, values full and immediate expression of fear and anger lest the repression of those emotions curdle into neurosis. A nomadic lot, they seal off the hallway they live in, moving the barricades when they exhaust the “ponics”, plants that abound in the ship’s corridors. Their power stems from a cache of weapons found two generations ago.

And protagonist Roy Complain is not happy with his life in the tribe. He gets flogged for losing his woman on a hunting expedition into the “deadways” beyond the tribes “Quarters”. Chaffing under the Teaching and floggings of his tribe, Complain decides to accompany priest Marapper and three others through the deadways and to the land of the advanced people of Forwards. Marapper expects, somewhere, to find the ship’s control room, seize control of the vessel, and end this painful journey through the stars.

In his wanderings, Complain learns the truth behind the other groups — the mutants, the Outsiders, and the Giants — rumored to inhabit the ship. Aldiss puts an ironic twist to the generation starship tale, particularly Orphans of the Sky, when he reveals the exact situation of the ship. By novel’s end, Aldiss gives a detailed and ingenious explanation for Complain’s world.

It’s not necessary to read the Heinlein story, or any other generation starship tale, to appreciate this fine novel. Aldiss gives us believable emotion and, in Complain, a fine portrait of a man growing into a true knowledge of himself and his world.

Here’s what some other lobes in the Global Brain think about this novel:

More fantastic fiction is indexed by title and author/editor.

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3 thoughts on “Non-Stop, or Adventures in Reviewer Parallax

      • I probably won’t go for Captive Universe any time soon, as it doesn’t seem to be available on Kindle or Audible, and I’m trying not to add any more physical books to my collection. A lot of other Harrison stuff is out there digitally, though, and Non-Stop by Aldiss is available as well.

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