Brian Aldiss : (1925-2017) English author, anthologist, artist and critic
“Brian Aldiss began publishing his stories in the mid-1950s, a time when SF was heavily dominated by commercial US writers schooled in the markets of commercial magazines.
Aldiss’s work came as a breath of fresh air to a genre beginning to suffocate in its own orthodoxies.
He wrote lively, intelligent prose, shot through with subversive humour, linguistic novelty and human observation. He took for his subjects the full range of modern scientific research. As well as the exact sciences, he also plundered speculative, psychological, sociological and sexological areas of inquiry. One of the most exhilarating aspects of reading Aldiss is the diversity of his imagination.
“Prime among his novels is “Greybeard” (1964), possibly his greatest SF novel: it depicts a world of almost universal sterility, where elderly, childless survivors journey downstream along the Thames in hope of finding signs of new life. Written against the failure of his first marriage, while he was separated from his young children, this novel revealed that ebullience and exotica were not the only weapons in Aldiss’s literary armoury, but that he could deal with important tragic themes.” – Christopher Priest
“During the latter half of the 1960s Aldiss was closely identified with New Wave SF, and in particular with the innovative magazine New Worlds under the fruitfully controversial editorship of Michael Moorcock;
Aldiss was instrumental in obtaining a 1967 Arts Council grant for the magazine, which saved it for a few years.
Aldiss published some increasingly unconventional fiction here, notably his novel “Report on Probability A” (short version March 1967 New Worlds; 1968; written 1962 but unpublishable until the times changed), an SF transposition of the techniques of the French “anti-novelists” into a Surrealist story of enigmatic voyeurism, and his “Acid-Head War” stories, collected as “Barefoot in the Head: A European Fantasia” (fixup 1969).
Set in the aftermath of a European war in which psychedelic Drugs have been used as weapons, the latter is written in a dense, punning style reminiscent of James Joyce’s “Finnegans Wake” (1939); it is an ambitious tour de force of Modernism in SF.” – The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction