Greybeard, by Brian Aldiss


Orthodox Herbertarian

The first time I ever read anything by Brian Aldiss I was in London. I was there for an extended "escape the States" vacation that actually turned into a working vacation coupled with as much hoboing as I could fit in. It was back in 1990 which doesn't feel like too long ago to me, at least until I do the math and realize it's been almost two decades since then. My, how the time does fly. I was there alone, chasing the most beautiful woman I had ever met back to her home in Finland, when I found myself in the city craving some SF. It was after the point that I had decided that SF was not only a great pass-time, but - I thought, and obviously still do think - it also was a pretty important thing in the world and was worth knowing much more about. So I decided to pick up something "foreign," which was an insipidly stupid thought, because in the whole London-Greg-SF equation, the only "foreign" element was me. In a used bookstore somewhere near my flat I found a copy of a paperback book by Brian Aldiss called Greybeard. I had never heard of the author before, but the the blurb on the cover proclaimed him to be "The Most Important Writer Of British SF EVER!" I thought to myself, "how can a paperback blurb be wrong?" So I bought it, read it, and absolutely hated it. Greybeard bored me witless. Aldiss just could not hold my attention at all. By the time I had finished the book I found that I could remember very little of it, probably because I had just scanned many pages instead of reading them carefully, as was (and again, still is) my habit. At this point the only thing that I remember for sure of that whole experience was thinking that the book was just about some fogey who wandered through the swamp for a while, listening to others whine and moan about not having kids, then, magically and unexpectedly he finds a kid and the book just ends. Upon reread - done carefully this time, I promise - I see that it in fact is about more. However, even though my first impression was not exactly spot-on, I still do not think that it is far from the truth. Aldiss still failed to hold my attention. I typically read a novel of two-hundred-some-odd pages in two evenings. This one took me about two weeks to slog through. On one or two evenings I actually dreaded picking it up and returning again to this world. But I persisted, finished the book, and managed to eek a few rewards from the experience...Please click here, or on the book cover above, to be taken to the complete review..