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Trillion Year Spree: The History of Science Fiction

4.08  ·  Rating Details  ·  292 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews
Britain's most illustrious SF writer, Brian Aldiss, provides a witty and perceptive history of this extraordinary phenomenon, set in its social and literary context. Crammed with fascinating insights, this generous spree takes us through decades of treats for the imagination: escape to other dimensions, flights to other planets, lost worlds, utopias, mechanical creatures a ...more
Paperback, 688 pages
Published 1988 by Paladin Books (first published 1986)
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Sep 26, 2012 Manny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
If you're at all interested in SF, this is a must-read. Absolutely the best history of the genre that I know, written by an insider who is passionate about the subject.

Aldiss has a broad take on the question of what science-fiction is, and there is a strange, eerie theme running through the book: a fascination with ice. Anna Kavan's Ice, a novel I have still not read, but which Aldiss describes with passion. Dante's traitors, buried in the ice of the innermost circles of Hell. And this stanza fr
Glen Engel-Cox
It's no easy task to write a history of science fiction, as amorphous a publishing category as there is, so I hesitate to call this book a failure on those terms alone. What it attempts to do, it does handily and usefully: it brings to light a strand that stretches from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein to William Gibson's Neuromancer, the darling of the 1980s (when this book was published). Along the way it pauses long enough to note certain knots in the strand that have made it stronger (woah, I ...more
Ampat Varghese
Jul 30, 2011 Ampat Varghese rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My book shelves are liberally peppered with science fiction novels. Right now, in front of my eyes, I can see a William Gibson trilogy peeking back at me mischievously. Pattern Recognition. Spook Country.Zero History.
I taught Art and Design in India for 12 years. These books must become part of the curriculum of any cutting edge art and design school across the world, I think to myself. But, not many will care. Because, firstly, are there any Gen X or Gen Y kids who read? Should they read at all
Dec 27, 2014 Clark rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I came to this book, off and on, over a period of five years and have just turned the last of its dense 444 pages. This is an amazing and exhaustive history of Speculative Fiction (SF) by one of its Grand Masters. Any serious reader of SF should tackle this amazing map of the foundations, trends, and pit-falls of our most expansive and awe inspiring genre of fiction.

Aldiss not only navigates the varied coastline of the literature of "What if...", but is not in the least afraid of keel-hauling t
Artur Coelho
Mar 15, 2014 Artur Coelho rated it it was amazing
Onde começa a FC? Qual o texto seminal de onde germinou esta forma literária? Aldiss é muito preciso. Rejeita textos clássicos fantasistas como o de Luciano de Samosata ou as viagens fantásticas dos autores enciclopedistas do iluminismo e focaliza-se em Frankenstein como a raiz da imensa floresta da FC. A confluência do romance gótico com visão científica, os traumas pessoais da autora sublimados através de narrativas que fogem ao ocultismo mágico e contemplam as possibilidades científicas, bem ...more
Karl Bunker
This is not so much a true history of science fiction as it is a history-spanning piece of literary criticism of SF. Which is to say it's more about Aldiss presenting his opinions of authors, stories, novels, editors, etc., than it is about laying out the who, what, and when of history. And this is not a bad thing, especially speaking from a time some 26 years after the book was published. As a history of an ongoing phenomenon, those missing years up to the present day would steeply diminish the ...more
Nicholas Whyte[return][return]It is a big big book about the history of science fiction from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein to 1986 (with a very brief postscript for the 2001 edition). I was surprised how much of the argument of the book was already familiar to me. I guess I must have internalised it from poring over the writings of John Clute. Still, Aldiss makes some very interesting points to fill out the basic lines about Shelley, Gernsback and what happened in between. ...more
Apr 28, 2015 Danceswithcats rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
The best review of the history of Science Fiction that I have read. Aldiss is a sympathetic but fairly rigorous critic. It's a little out of date now, but for the period it covers, its superb.
Anthony Faber
Nov 14, 2015 Anthony Faber rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An expansion of his earlier "Billion Year Spree", it's a quick jaunt through the history of science fiction, ending 30 years ago.
Keith Davis
Dec 07, 2009 Keith Davis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
A monumental history of science fiction. I read this to pieces in college. Unfortunately it only goes up to the 80's, but recommended for anyone interested in discovering the rich legacy of the genre. I likely would never have read Clifford Simak or Zena Henderson if Aldiss' book had not introduced them to me.
Scott Golden
Feb 18, 2014 Scott Golden rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thorough overview of the history of science fiction, emphasizing books and magazine stories, by one of its most consistently excellent writers.
May 19, 2013 Serdar rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Witty and comprehensive overview of SF up until about the late Eighties (my edition ends there, anyway). Essential for anyone curious about SF as a genre and a storytelling methodology.
Jonathan Oliver
Jul 05, 2013 Jonathan Oliver rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Obviously a little out of date now, but still a fascinating history of the genre. I don't agree with everything Aldiss says, but the praise assigned is generally deserved.
Jul 04, 2009 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Along with John Clute's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, this book taught me all about science fiction history. Indispensable.
Sep 11, 2010 Charles rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-and-gone
disappointing. I learned some about the history of SF, related to pulp fiction. But, I don't feel like I learned that much else.
3.5 stars

Not the most engaging history ever, but a useful reference with some sharp insights.
Trillion Year Spree: The History Of Science Fiction by Brian W. Aldiss (1988)
TRILLION YEAR SPREE by Brian and David Wingrove Aldiss (1986)
Oct 05, 2007 AT rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: serious sf fans
What a wonderful guidebook to the rich body of sf literature!
Jun 24, 2013 Dan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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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...

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