Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Harm” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.07  ·  Rating Details  ·  163 Ratings  ·  35 Reviews
From one of science fiction’s greatest living writers comes an unforgettable near-future novel in the hortatory tradition of Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, Orwell’s 1984, and Dick’s A Scanner Darkly. Both a searing indictment of a fear-drenched political climate and a visionary allegory that shines a piercing light on timeless human verities, HARM is a powerfully compact maste ...more
Published by Duckworth Publishing (first published 2007)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Harm, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Harm

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 324)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Sławomir Molenda
Fabułę MROK-u dobrze streścił wydawca na tylnej okładce, także tylko powtórzę w ogromnym skrócie. Przewodnim motywem jest przetrzymywanie bez wyroku pewnego Brytyjczyka muzułmańskiego pochodzenia. Trafił on do więzienia po tym, jak napisał satyryczną książkę, która zawierała krótką, żartobliwą rozmowę o zamordowaniu premiera Wielkiej Brytanii.
Na jej podstawie uznano go za terrorystę i w więzieniu poddawano brutalnym torturom, aby zdradził swoje powiązania. Podczas przesłuchań traci on świadomość
M.G. Mason
Aug 18, 2012 M.G. Mason rated it liked it
Brian Aldiss is known for being a Socialist who injects political statements into his writing. And by a "Socialist" I mean the true definition, not the quasi-paranoid accusation that gets banded around (and barely resembles actual Socialism) by the lunatic fringe of the Republican Party. In the last ten years there has been no greater rallying call for Socialism than the mistreatment of Muslims in the west following 9/11 and on the back of it, the "Freedom for Palestine" movement.

This is the sto
Jan 29, 2008 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who didn't stop Lord Foul's Bane in the first 50 pages, dystopianists
Shelves: library-request
I am a fan of the few books that Aldiss has written or edited. He has an excellent eye for description and detail.

In HARM, he looks at current political events with a critical eye towards all of humanity. Blind faith (Christian) is assailed, as is pedantic, arrogant science. His anti-hero, Paul, a British Muslim, is a character about whom no past is known. Suspicious in his form on Earth (does the government have a reason for watching him), and vile in his form on Stygia, where he is a perpetual
Luke Johnson
In attempting to write a novel against islamophobia and the dangers of totalitarianism in response to terrorism, Aldiss...

well, he manages to be pretty islamophobic, for a start; his attitude is best summed up in this quote taken from an interview at the end of the novel: 'Many people have taken refuge in Britain from the dirty, dusty villages of the middle east. They neither know nor understand the west. Consequently, many would destroy it.'

I would have thought the first step to writing a novel
Ack gack torture squick. Couldn't even make it through a chapter.
J. Allen Nelson
A timely but overall unsatisfactory short novel that criticizes the War on Terror and the various ways western governments terrorize their own citizens for the sake of Security from those Other governments. I felt it was already outdated -- coming as it did from 2007, and the world has already changed, not all for the better, since then.
I simply felt that the book was Message Fiction being slapped in my face. Perhaps in another time, on another planet(!?)this would have worked for me. Every pa
May 21, 2016 Jobby rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Brian Aldiss wrote one of my favourite books, Cryptozoic, so I was hoping for good things. What I got was something far more confusing...
Paul finds himself being interrogated in HARM for apparently inciting terrorism, something Paul denies strongly. However, Paul has a dissociative disorder where his mind slips from this reality. About two thirds of the book deal with his adventures (as Fremant) on the planet Stygia where insects have evolved into the large land animals and humans arrived on a s
John Kenny
Mar 23, 2012 John Kenny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Like Aldiss’ 2002 novel, Super-State, HARM is a remarkably timely book, dealing as it does with matters we are only reluctantly beginning to examine in any kind of detail. With Super-State, climate change was the main focus. With HARM, Aldiss is looking very closely at the line beyond which the ‘West’ should or should not cross in ‘its’ ‘war on terror’. Of course, both books, typical of Aldiss, are about so much more, but it’s the examination of what governments decide is the acceptable course o ...more
David Agranoff

Brian W. Aldiss is best known for two films based on his work Frankenstein Unbound directed by Roger Corman based on his novel, and AI directed by Spielberg based on his short story called Super toys Last all Summer Long. In genre terms he is considered one of the masters of British science fiction. His series Helliconia Spring, summer and winter are considered broad classics of imaginative large scope Sci-fi. Personally I have only read Frankenstein and Dracula Unbound both of which I enjoyed.
Feb 07, 2009 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Daniel A.
First off, let me say that Brian W. Aldiss' Harm was—and is—an incredibly difficult book to have finished, despite its deceptively short length. As a bitter commentary on the War on Terror and its present and possible abuses, however, HARM remains a vital contribution to the best traditions of science fiction from one of the British masters.

Heartbreakingly depressing yet with a powerful message to convey, HARM provides a warning to the reader, presumably a resident of the ostensibly civilized We
Jonathan Hockey
Jun 05, 2013 Jonathan Hockey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
An interesting book. Raises some important questions about the dangers involved if the relationships between the western world and the muslim community become more strained in the years to come. The use of two worlds, a world where the main character Paul, is being tortured for his writing of a book inciting the murder of the prime minster by the HARM organisation trying to determine his terrorist threat. Another world he retreats to when left unconscious in his cell, on an "itchy" insect planet ...more
Stephanie Griffin
Feb 25, 2012 Stephanie Griffin rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: nobody.
I just don’t get this book. HARM, by the science-fiction writer Brian W. Aldiss, is about a man who is being tortured and in his delirium imagines that he is living on a planet over a thousand light-years away from Earth. Or is it the other way around: he is living on the planet Stygia and when he sleeps he dreams of living another life on a faraway planet?
This is a short (240 pages) book. I tend to want to think that Aldiss was sketching out a story and decided to stop before it was fully flesh
Wow. This is a vivid and devastating vision of the ways in which U.S. and British politics have been taken over by fear and paranoia. One part of the novel, set in a detainment prison, speaks directly to the institution of camps like Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib within cultures that are supposedly civilized. Paul Fadhil Abbas Ali, a Muslim British writer, has been imprisoned on suspicion of association with terrorists and encouragement of terrorist actions (like assassinating the prime minister). W ...more
Nov 16, 2007 Norman rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is part SciFi, part commentary on the socio-ethnic ramifications of the modern hunt for those that are different (ie, the War For Terror). The main character seems to have a split personality, where he is living 2 very different lives.

One is in the not too distant future, where he is a British Muslim. As a British Muslim, he has written a book where the Prime Minister gets assassinated. Due to how the government takes this, he is taken prisoner, and tortured for being a terrorist, even
Aug 16, 2014 Nitish rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was my first (kind of) Dystopian book by far and now I'm afraid of reading such books.
From the very first page this book starts seeking attention, but it fails miserably on the very page.
I could not manage to complete it but somehow I did.
So whats the new formula of a book:
Science Fiction + Dystopian feel + Politics + Miserable man in the story + Alter ego.
If you can manage to include all of this in a passage. Well! Congrats! You've become a writer. Just elaborate that passage in 250 page
Ade Couper
Apr 04, 2013 Ade Couper rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brian Aldiss is one of the greats of science fiction, along with Clarke, Bradbury & Azimov. This is a great book.

It isn't, however, an easy read, dealing with 2 issues which interest me, namely human rights & also mental health. Paul Ali, a writer of Muslim heritage has been arrested & is being tortured - for writing a scene in a book where two drunk characters discuss assassinating the Prime Minister. To escape from these atrocities, Paul's dissociative personality disorder creates
Allan Dyen-Shapiro
Aldiss, the old science fiction master, is quintessentially English even in tackling what's essentially an American topic--the Patriot Act and the assault on liberty under the Bush administration. He transports this fight to England, where a fully assimilated Muslim author makes a very English bad joke about the country's leader and is imprisoned as a suspected terrorist and tortured. The torture drives him insane and into a science fiction world.

This book needed to be written. We had Orwell to
Mike S
Dec 14, 2007 Mike S rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Any pollyanna
Shelves: fiction-sci-fi
I found this book to be quite disturbing.

Reading it was like going to the carnival and looking into one of the mirrors that distorts its reflection to see if I could learn anything from it, only to find that the reflection showed everything ugly, petty, and foolish.

The title is "Harm", it might just as well be "Dark". It deals with our current religious "clash of cultures" (which are nothing more than thinly disguised resource wars) and all of the associated idiocy.

If you read sci-fi as a ple
Stephen Thomas

Although Harm is a reasonably good read it’s not one of Aldiss’s triumphs (of which there are a good number). The interweaving of the two stories; that of Ali’s incarceration and interrogation and that of his alter-ego on the colonial planet Stygia, isn’t entirely successful. Although I understand Aldiss’s intentions I wasn’t convinced enough for the book to work as well as one would hope. I was far more interested in the colonists’ lives on the distant planet than I was in the unfor
Aug 01, 2009 Robert rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
This book is both grim and bleak. It's cleverly and powerfully written but not in the least subtle. It looks at the British political and societal scene as of right now and pretty much damns everybody: the political class for reactionary abuse of power, repression of its citizens and persecution of minorities. Immigrants for not culturally integrating. The religious for abdicating reason. The scientific community for abandoning ethics. Human nature is found to be fundamentally pretty disgusting. ...more
Suzana Vuksanovic
Apr 15, 2010 Suzana Vuksanovic rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an amazing book. Brian Aldiss himself never fails to amaze...
In this book, Brian Aldiss - the sci fi writer - takes on the world of post 911 - complete with Abu Ghraib-esque prisoner.
This prisoner, an English-Muslim, seems to take refuge in an alternate personality in order to survive his ordeals. That personality, one which has landed and been reconstituted by a space-faring ship on a new planet - has it's own dillemas and life-situations to resolve. Strangely parallel to the events
John Wagner
This book seems like it would be two great short stories. There are two distinct storylines, which never seem to flow naturally into one another. Part of that has to do with the relatively short length of the book--there's never enough time to fully flesh out either story arc, and certainly not enough time to mesh them together. The book, as is, would be a great outline for a much longer, more detailed book.

That said, there are plenty of things to like about it. Aldiss has a good read for the dy
Tim Wake
Oct 16, 2010 Tim Wake rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A 2nd generation british immigrant is tortured for offhand remarks in a comic novel, in a black prison run by a british government ministry, in a kafkaesque farce of abuse and torture, while a parallel plot takes place in an escapist science fiction universe that the protagonist retreats to for escape, which mirrors the iniquities of the real world. Could take or leave it, neither storyline could stand on their own, and their interplay provided the only meat of the piece.
Bruce Sanders
Dec 22, 2007 Bruce Sanders rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A mediocre Kafkaesque tale of an innocent British Muslim tortured by British security on the one hand and his alter ego on another planet trying to survive and make sense of the fear, ignorance, and barbarity of the population trying to colonize that planet. Allegorically speaking there was probably more to this book than I realize, but it just didn't hold my interest.
Tippy Jackson
meh. Dark and bleak is right. Not at all subtle, but it could use some subtlety. Don't really give a shit about his characters. And of course, the poor tortured victim is a writer who innocently dared to make a statement. Not an actor, newscaster, musician, poet, philosopher, politician, artist or anyone else, but a writer. Just sayin'.
Michael O'Donnell
Not one story but two. Even though the characters are linked the two did not come together. As a SCI FI the current story is too close to date without a plausible link. The story is bleak but extremely well written. The other world experience is brilliantly Aldiss. The real world not so brilliant.

I couldn't finish this, even though i thought it had interesting political commentary on post-9-11 government repression. Everytime i read a rape scene where the woman thereafter says, "I love you," it just ruins it somehow...I couldn't pick the book back up after that.
Anthony Faber
Nov 21, 2015 Anthony Faber rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Kafka-esque book. Pretty good.
Jan 26, 2011 Eric rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The creation of a new world to serve as a haven for a man under torture, a new world where the man himself is under torture from different angles... Interesting composite of current affairs and science fiction.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Armies of Memory (Giraut, #4)
  • White Queen (White Queen, #1)
  • Brother Termite
  • Year's Best SF 14
  • Encounter with Tiber
  • The Best Time Travel Stories of All Time
  • The Left Hand of God: Taking Back Our Country from the Religious Right
  • Grants Pass
  • Ballroom of the Skies
  • White Devils
  • Love the Sin: Sexual Regulation and the Limits of Religious Tolerance
  • Timeshares
  • The Fortunate Fall
  • Worlds of the Imperium (Imperium, #1)
  • Whiskey and Water (Promethean Age, #2)
  • Orion Shall Rise
  • Days of Grass
  • The Execution Channel
Pseudonyms: Jael Cracken, Peter Pica, John Runciman, C.C. Shackleton, Arch Mendicant, & "Doc" Peristyle.

Brian Wilson Aldiss is one of the most important voices in science fiction writing today. He wrote his first novel while working as a bookseller in Oxford. Shortly afterwards he wrote his first work of science fiction and soon gained international recognition. Adored for his innovative liter
More about Brian W. Aldiss...

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »