Drake's Reviews > Non-Stop

Non-Stop by Brian W. Aldiss
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May 03, 09

Read in May, 2009

Brian Aldiss’ classic first novel, Non-Stop, simply put, is a four star plot wrapped around a two star prose. The story revolves around a multi-generational spaceship on colonizing mission whose society has completely broken down due to some mysterious tragedy. Instead of being technologically advanced, the people aboard the spaceship have digressed into hunting/gathering tribes, each deck of the spaceship having its own individual primitive sect. Of course, an outcast group decides to explore into the unknown areas on a quest to find the fabled ‘control room.’ Lead by a power hungry priest, the group faces obstacles at every turn before the truth is revealed.

A fascinating story, but the clumsy prose style diminishes the overall enjoyment. Aldiss has numerous run on sentences, and even worse, strangely lacks commas to separate the differing ideas. The prose is disjointed, leaping from arena to another and lacks the necessary build up to major plot points. It feels somewhat rushed, for example, in the middle of a meandering paragraph a major twist is suddenly revealed. A good editor could have made this tale so much better. Likewise, the characters are underdeveloped, known not for their personalities, but rather for their occupations, i.e. priest, storyteller, hunter, cop. However, the idea of society breaking down on a multi-generational spaceship was stellar. Great ideas, poor execution, still a must read for any science fiction fanatic.
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