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

Galaxies Like Grains of Sand

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  595 ratings  ·  54 reviews
In Galaxies Like Grains of Sand, Brian W. Aldiss tells the tale of mankind’s future over the course of forty million years. Each of these nine connected short stories highlights a different millennia in which man has adapted to new environments and hardships.
Paperback, 195 pages
Published July 1st 2001 by House of Stratus (first published 1959)
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 Galaxies Like Grains of Sand, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Galaxies Like Grains of Sand

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.66  · 
Rating details
 ·  595 ratings  ·  54 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Galaxies Like Grains of Sand
M.M. Strawberry Library & Reviews
This is easily one of the best sci-fi novel, or just book, that I have ever read. This book is old and I had to obtain my copy via eBay, but it was worth it. The eight interconnected stories come to a surprising conclusion, and overall is very thought-provoking. I liked how each chapter focused on a different part in human history. While I do feel that this book could have used some more detail (the book is fairly slim compared to other books such as say, Dune) it is still a wonderful and though ...more
Apr 28, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
My second read by Aldiss and just as enjoyable. This is from the golden age of scifi or thereabout, 9 thematically connected stories about the future of the Earth. Of course that is much too vague, since most if not all science fiction deals with that very subject, but this is specifically the projected future that spans millennia and then some. So it's a very lofty, very ambitious premise and the execution, while somewhat uneven, is quite good too. Not great, mind you, for me it never really ex ...more
Daniel Villines
Jul 05, 2014 rated it liked it
Galaxies Like Grains of Sand is a solid work of science fiction. It accomplishes what so many books in the genre surprisingly fail to do, which is to raise questions about our collective future based upon our past and present conditions. For those that want to consider far reaching ideas about our long-term societal and human evolutionary paths, Galaxies Like Grains of Sand has no shortage of such ideas.

My issues with Galaxies stem from its structure. It attempts to be one complete text that p
Richard Wood
Aug 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hard to go too far wrong with Brian Aldiss. Chapters/Stories were just the right size for me - I could read the book in short 30-page bursts.
Jul 05, 2009 rated it really liked it
A set of vignettes composed as a 'history of the future', I found Aldiss's writing to have a good rhythm and clarity. The sense that all of humanity's intentions can be captured in a bit of 10-20 pages stories is done with surprising skill. There's a very little bit of age, as the book was written in the early post-war period, but I think even the most imaginative of authors would have had problems with coming up with the effects of information technology. Overall, a good read. ...more
Oct 24, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
this is a collection of short stories Aldiss then assembled into a longer future history; it doesn't come off too successfully. nevertheless some of the vignettes are quite strong. ...more
Very uneven stories but here and there you can found a lot of "food for thought". I'll probably be returning to this book in the future

RIP Brian Aldiss
Patrick Gibson
Visionary history of mankind as told in nine installments by its replacement. Tells the tale like a geologist would - using million, thousand, and hundred year increments - Aldiss shows how man is the perfect seedling for populating the universe as well as the ultimate vehicle for its self-destruction. Man ruins the Earth, leaves Earth for the stars, tackles the problems of time travel through an integrated form of speech-like alchemy, rediscovers a still populated Earth but does not believe it ...more
Erica Clou
This is from my Dad's collection. Before I get to the substance of the book, I think it's worth mentioning that my Dad's copy is from 1960 and it has a cigarette ad right in the middle of the book. Wow. Anyway, the novel is about the history of the Earth and our Galaxy in the very distant future. It reminds me a lot of Cloud Atlas, even though it was written so long before Cloud Atlas. I enjoyed it a great deal, and the story felt cohesive though I just noticed when examining the book that many ...more
Sep 30, 2013 rated it liked it
What a weird book. The fixup is a little clunky but the stories are quite fine. The American paperback is actually the one to read rather than the UK Canopy of Time. Faber in England would not print Aldiss' extensive interludes between each story but Galaxies has them as Aldiss desired.
Finally, there was a book of Aldiss criticism called Apertures by David Wingrove; it focuses heavily on this collection and is more well written and insightful than I am at the moment. Recommended.
Sep 07, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
It's a mixed bag, a collection of stories that forms a 'future history' that spans the lifetime of the galaxy. The last story is brilliant, if somewhat torturously written. If you aren't starting with a large vocabulary and a willingness to improvise pronounciation I suggest read this with a thesaurus or dictionary at hand. I do consider it well worth the read if you've leisure time to spare. ...more
Jul 25, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The vignettes tied together well, but I wish some stories were longer and more developed. I liked the last few pages very much, though, which I appreciate since so many times the last chapter of a book is the most disappointing.
Aug 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
probably one of the best science fiction books i"ve ever read - beautiful!!! ...more
May 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What does the future hold for humankind? That question has been asked by scientists, politicians, philosophers, sociologists, and tea leaf readers for as far back as written records take us and it is the bedrock upon which Science Fiction is based.

This is my first Brian W. Aldiss read and I was impressed. The "golden age" of Science Fiction is generally seen as when pulp science fiction matured into a serious genre. Aldiss came of age in that period and this book shows this focus by posing serio
Jan 01, 2019 rated it it was ok
A series of short stories about the distant future and ultimate demise of mankind. There were some highlights .. I liked the story of how the robots decide man is extinct and start to organise themselves using slow and clunky logic... but I found most chapters dry, with too much dialogue and not enough depth. I suppose Aldiss is writing in the style of the time and some concepts are really well thought out, so 2 stars are probably doing him an injustice. Having said that, finishing this book was ...more
Steven Reiz
Dec 12, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: livingroom
This short novel, published in 1960, tries to portray the future of the human race and of the galaxy itself. It's quaint, outdated, has its (bizarre) moments but I can't recommend it. Its biggest failing as I see it is the cyclic development model that it describes, in which scientific progress apparently isn't really documented so that millions of years from now humans still fly around in their flying cars and have spaceship battles. Also, it's a quite depressing story. ...more
Joachim Boaz
Jan 25, 2020 rated it liked it
3/5 (collated rating: Average)

The concept behind Brian Aldiss’ short story collection Galaxies Like Grains of Sand (1960) is intriguing. Take previously published stories (in this case from magazines in the late 50s), graft them together by means of mini-introductions, and arrange them [...]

Full review:
Oct 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Classic science fiction, a series of short stories which share themes and references, and are woven into an overall plot arc spanning millions of years. Amazingly ambitious, and the fact that Aldiss basically pulls it off without is very impressive, as is the fact that it doesn't seem particularly dated even though it's from 1960. ...more
Joel B
Nov 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Galaxies Like Grains of Sand was an excellent read made all the more impressive when considering that it was written in the 50's. It completely holds up in 2020 and is well worth your time if you enjoy expansive futuristic sf. ...more
A book I read in my younger years. I recall it as unsettling, unlikeable and yet weirdly compelling - enough that I read it several times. Dunno if it holds up, but one day I'll go back and see. ...more
Jul 13, 2020 rated it did not like it
Galaxies Like Grains of Sand (1979, 2001) "Experimental", soft sci fi. Good writing but not my cup of tea. Also, it is bleak. ...more
P.J. Wetzel
Sep 04, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A collection of short stories that Aldiss wrote many years ago, recompiled and republished recently. The stories stitch together the future history of mankind from the near future through to the galaxy's demise due to a form of proton decay. It is quaintly anachronistic, referring to 'reels' of holographic 3-D cinematography, intelligent machines communicating their digital information to each other by punch card, and using the term 'island universe' for the Milky Way galaxy--a term that fell ou ...more
Steve Rainwater
The book is a collection of short stories published in the pulps between 1957-1958. Aldiss has added some new interstitial material to connect the stories by way of describing them as historical fragments of life in the Milky Way galaxy. Most of the stories are merely average at best. Only two managed to hold my interest: Who Can Replace a Man?, about robots who do their best to carry on after the last human dies, and Visiting Amoeba, about the newest lifeform in a nearby galaxy stopping in to s ...more
Apr 14, 2014 rated it it was ok
A short, easy read. But I feel like in all that was presented of histories in our future that there would be less ambiguity about the technologies at given eras. It's as if he almost purposely dodged that element if scifi altogether. The only real places where you get a sense of technology are in the chapter about the Isolationist and the end chapter. Even at that, the tech didn't reflect what you'd expect from a galaxy-wide culture(s) over the lifespan of the galaxy. A disappointment overall. ...more
Andrew Brady
Mar 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
This deserves four stars for it's ambition. Personal human stories during the various epochs of humanity's future. There is definitely an Olaf Stapledon feel to the story of humanity here, which I sense was Aldiss' intention/tribute.

The near-future stories work far better than the distant ones. Like the "Cities in Flight" series by James Blish, there just isn't enough page-room to depict or explain a far-future evolving galaxy in a completely satisfying manner.
Dec 31, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story is a chain of loosely connected short stories, racing farther and farther into an incredibly distand future.
The book from 1960 reads just like that era. It has a very recognizable taste.

The stories itself tend to run each other and itself over. No matter how much time passes, human are still recognizably there and they still do the same things. Like the years, it is not countable, how often we repeated our mistakes and yet cannot learn not to make them again.
Dec 29, 2012 rated it liked it
This short story collection is organized as a future history extending into the remote future. The stories don't particularly connect, but neither do they contradict. When written, it may have been perceived as "pithy", but at this date, it seems a bit shallow. I enjoyed reading it again, but it's no classic. ...more
Jan 17, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: english, sci-fi
A collection of short stories explaining the fall of humankind from a near future to the end of times, really, the end of everything. What a bravura, Mr. Aldiss. Even I can't say this is a must-reading book for everyone, some of stories really deserve a try. "Who can replace a man", just as an example of a really good one. Some of them are more run-of-the-mill, but a nice effort anyway. ...more
Peter Tillman
Nine interconnected stories that together tell the tale of mankind’s future over the course of forty million years, as humans adapt to new environments and new hardships.

“Aldiss seems to have always had a more oceanic sense of time than even most science fiction writers, an almost measured vision of what will transpire in the long run.” —Norman Spinrad

In memoriam, 1925-2017
Joanna Chaplin
Apr 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
That was kind of like taking a series of time travel hops forward, seeing how things have progressed after each jump. There were a couple of ideas that I consider to be cliched, but then they were handled in new and creative ways.
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Shores of Space
  • Hard to Be a God
  • Dragon's Egg (Cheela, #1)
  • Star Maker
  • The Stars My Destination
  • The Wind From the Sun
  • Snuff
  • Sacred Fool
  • The Drowned World
  • The Stars, Like Dust (Galactic Empire, #1)
  • Gateway (Heechee Saga, #1)
  • Rite of Passage
  • Ringworld (Ringworld, #1)
  • The Halcyon Drift (Hooded Swan, #1)
  • The Rest of the Robots (Robot, #0.2)
  • 月亮和六便士【上海译文出品!“一本好书”重磅推荐!“故事圣手”毛姆作品,中国最著名的翻译家傅惟慈译作,豆瓣8W评论,9.0高分推荐!】 (译文经典)
  • The Terminal Experiment
  • Burbuja
See similar books…
Pseudonyms: Jael Cracken, Peter Pica, John Runciman, C.C. Shackleton, Arch Mendicant, & "Doc" Peristyle.

Brian Wilson Aldiss was 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 literary

News & Interviews

  Kerine Wint is a software engineering graduate with more love for books than for computers. As an avid reader, writer, and fan of all things...
12 likes · 6 comments
“Of the laws we can deduce from the external world, one stands above all: the Law of Transience. Nothing is intended to last. The trees fall year by year, the mountains tumble, the galaxies burn out like tall tallow candles. Nothing is intended to last — except time. The blanket of the universe wears thin, but time endures. Time is a tower, an endless mine; time is monstrous. Time is the hero. Human and inhuman characters are pinned to time like butterflies to a card; yes, though the wings stay bright, flight is forgotten. Time, like an element which can be solid, liquid or gas, has three states. In the present, it is a flux we cannot seize. In the future, it is a veiling mist. In the past, it has solidified and become glazed; then we call it history. Then it can show us nothing but our own solemn faces; it is a treacherous mirror, reflecting only our limited truths. So much is it a part of man that objectivity is impossible; so neutral is it that it appears hostile.” 0 likes
More quotes…