Fiction Reviews


Non-Stop

(1958/2000) Brian Aldiss, Millennium, pbk, 6.99, 241pp, ISBN 1-85798-998-8

 

This is a re-release of Aldiss' 1958 classic as part of the largely excellent Millennium SF Masterwork series. Non-Stop; is one of the proverbial definitive multi-generation ship stories. Plot: quite simply, the interstellar ship has been going for so long, its crew (rather its descendants) have long forgotten how to control the craft and the details of their mission. Indeed they do not recognise that they are in a ship. Our protagonist is one such. Wondering about the world into which he has been born, he sets of exploring. He finds new tribes in new caverns, and strange and wonderous things. Then he encounters the giants...

Do not be fooled by the plot's apparent simplicity. Aldiss has crafted an interesting tale - harder SF than his usual fare - with the occasional twist for good measure. Seasoned SF readers will soon pick up on the plot backdrop (so the above should not constitute too much of a spoiler). Yet other questions arise as to whether there are others onboard with more knowledge than the story's protagonists. Though written in 1958, he has made alterations on a couple of score pages to bring the novel up to date (in line with 2000 scientific knowledge as opposed to that of the mid 20th century). Non-Stop is an Aldiss classic and was his first SF novel. If you are into the way SF as a genre has developed, or like Aldiss, then you have simply got to get this 'SF Masterwork'.

Jonathan Cowie

Spring 2008 update: Apparently there is some discussion as to a possible film of this novel.


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