Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Helliconia Spring (Helliconia, #1)” as Want to Read:
Helliconia Spring (Helliconia, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Helliconia Spring

(Helliconia #1)

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  3,538 ratings  ·  190 reviews
A planet orbiting binary suns, Helliconia has a Great Year spanning three millennia of Earth time: cultures are born in spring, flourish in summer, then die with the onset of the generations-long winter. Helliconia is emerging from its centuries-long winter. The tribes of the equatorial continent emerge from their hiding places and are again able to dispute possession of t ...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published February 1st 2002 by iBooks (first published 1982)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

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

Reader Q&A

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.61  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,538 ratings  ·  190 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Helliconia Spring (Helliconia, #1)
Charles Dee Mitchell
I guess I am joining the chorus of voices who express frustration if not outright disappointment with this book. Aldiss has written several sf novels that are among my favorites -- Hot House, Greybeard, The Dark Light Years -- and I was looking forward to this trilogy. But as other reviewers tend to point out, if you glance at the reader responses to all three books, the number or respondents drops book by book. Helliconia Spring, although it certainly has its fans, I found to be pretty rough go ...more
Apr 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf-masterworks, sf
This series proves Aldiss' ability at world building and that he's not just good at writing short stories and novella's. Throughout this series (and even this book) characters come and go but the real story is that of the Planet Helliconia itself as the annual cycle of life is followed through from Spring to Winter. That's a larger prospect than it sounds given that one Helliconian year is equivalent to 2500 Earth years.

Human civilisation rises and falls in the space of a Helliconian year when t
Executive Summary: There were times where I enjoyed this book, but they were few and far between. Just not enough for me to like overall.

Full Review
If you look at how long it took me to read this fairly short book (26 days) and how many multiple day gaps I often went between reading it, it should be no real surprise I gave this 2 stars.

I found the prologue long and pretty boring, and it might be the most character development of the entire book. Unfortunately after the prologue that characte
Daniel Roy
Mar 16, 2012 rated it liked it
The Helliconia cycle is a SF trilogy with a planet as its main character. Yes, it's that epic and mind-boggling in scale. Heck, the prologue to the entire trilogy is a 100-page unbroken chapter.Helliconia Spring, the first of three novels in the cycle, tells the tale of a small human community as Spring comes to a world whose year lasts long enough for civilizations to rise and fall.

It goes without saying that the main feature of Aldiss' novel is his incredible world-building. In the Helliconia

The idea is nice - supposing a year was a thousand times as long? But I found the book a bit too slow, and got bored. I finished it, but never read Summer and Winter.
Getting into this book was somewhat of a slog. If I didn't know the pretense of the book I think I would have abandoned it early on, but the idea of a planet trapped in a binary star system was intriguing enough for me to keep going. (Hint to future readers: If you don't know Kepler's Laws of motion look them up, it explains an awful lot.)

The story follows a couple of generations of humans, trying to survive as their world begins to warm up. Not much happens so don't expect a lot from the plot.
Jan 21, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: sci-fi/fantasy fans
I bought this book five years ago, since it sounds like a really interesting idea and has neat cover art. I read about 20 pages, and put it down due to lack of interest. I recently picked it up again and finished it, but found myself pushing through most of it. It gets a little better than the prologue, but I just didn't care too much about the people of Oldorando (or even keep them straight, since their names all sound the same). A few chapters could've adequately told the story that takes seve ...more
Dave Packard
Sep 22, 2017 rated it it was ok
One star because I was actually able to finish it, and one star for the cool idea. I loved the science and the background information, I hated the “story” and found myself practically napping through most of it.
This book didn't really work for me. As other reviewers have pointed out the central character of this book is the planet of Hellliconia and when a planet is the focus of the novel then the resulting work is often epic in nature.

This is my first reading of Aldiss and I can't help thinking that if I had read other works of his I may appreciate this more. In Helliconia Spring Aldiss attempts a lot. The planet of Helliconia is in a binary system where it orbits one sun Batalix every four hundred da
Maggie K
Mar 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
I have to say as I started this book, I had qualms about whether I was going to enjoy it. It is written in a very factual way, so that it's hard to get a real feel for the characters. A very long prelude follows a young man from a tundra like area as he braves the ceaseless snow to get to a city and eventually goes back out to start a new life.

But eventually the story evolves into showing the life his descendants have made. Their dealings with indigenous species and plants, attempts to reconcile
Wayne McCoy
Oct 01, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: sword-and-laser
'Helliconia Spring' by Brian W. Aldiss was a recent pick by my book club, chosen after the author recently died.

The book is about a planet that orbits binary stars. It has a very long orbital year, which has strange effects on the inhabitants of the planet. At the start of this book, the planet is coming out of a winter cycle and moving slowly into spring. There are dominant life forms that start to struggle. There are cyclical plagues that thin and change the humanoid populations. Civilizations
Alissa Thorne
I get what this book was going for. It told the story of a civilization developing under the influence of planarity forces. By telling it through the eyes of the primitive peoples it aimed to achieve a kind of biblical scope. Well it was successful in one sense--it was about as much fun to read as the bible.

The storytelling will spend years with a particular character, dwelling on one characters boring and brutal little life then unceremoniously flit past their demise and jump generations into
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Anthropological Science Fiction.

The hardest of hard SciFi meets pre-agrarian society.

The effort it must have taken to write is matched only by the effort it takes to read.

Had Helliconia been the National Geographic reality TV show described in the book I would have enjoyed it more.

This 18 hour audiobook was a two month feat and I blame part of that on the narrators sleepy-go-bye-bye-voice.
Sep 23, 2017 rated it it was ok
The bits about Earth were interesting. The rest, not so much. I tried. I tried really hard. But I just couldn't enjoy this book.
Metaphorosis Reviews
2 stars

A world in a binary stellar system has a complex orbit with long periods of heat and cold. Inhabited by humans, near-humans, and other species, its population re-discovers science as it emerges from each long ice age - all watched by a human orbital station that shares its findings with distant Earth.

There's a strong similarity among Jack Vance, Robert Silverberg, and Brian Aldiss. They all use formal, sometimes stiff, language, and all describe odd, extreme characters
Stephen Richter
Sep 24, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: ebook
The wiki summary of the book made it a story I was looking forward to reading, but the writing style used to tell the story failed.
Simon Mcleish
Jan 20, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Originally published on my blog here in May 2002.

The Helliconia trilogy has an immense theme. In the eighties, one of Aldiss' interests was the rise and fall of civilization; his previous novel to Helliconia Spring, Life In The West, is about the decline of our own. As his introductory note here says, Aldiss was not completely happy with the way that it turned out, and so he produced the Helliconia trilogy, taking the theme and exploring it within a science fictional context, in the genre in whi
Amber Cooke
Mar 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As is usually the case with Aldiss, when I read, I am more fascinated with the portrayal of humanity in a strange habitat than with the habitat itself.  This book is slow, because it is thoughtful and sensitive to the intricacy of human emotion, and it endeavors to show so much, so deeply.  Though it took a great deal of commitment and concentration to read, I enjoyed getting lost in it.  Aldiss is one of the few writers who can really show both masculine and feminine perspectives in his charact ...more
May 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Simon Maynard said it best in his review (Apr 16, 2009), so I will only say:

Go into the book (trilogy) expecting the largeness of this tale. Any other mindset will take away from a brilliant world that has been created.
Luca De Rosa
Jan 15, 2018 rated it liked it
This book literally captured me. Its exquisite world building, the atmosphere and everything.
They lure you into a trap. There is way too much unneeded stuff in there, characters I cannot relate to, facts not to be cared about.
So the last 200 went, slowly, towards an end I was craving, the end of nothing it appears, but at least, the end of the book.
Apr 26, 2019 rated it it was ok
Finally complete. This book took ages and for good reason. It felt like it was going on forever. Honestly the Prologue would have been an alright stand alone short story, the rest of the book sort of just kept meandering onward!
The idea of the world and what it means, with 2 suns - the science behind it is fairly interesting. The characters and plot leave me wanting a lot more.
Adam Whitehead
Jul 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Yuli is a child of a hunter-gatherer family living under the light of two suns on the northern plains of Campannlat on the frigid, ice-wrapped planet of Helliconia. When his father is enslaved by the vicious phagors, Yuli is left alone. He finds his way to the subterranean city of Pannoval, where he prospers as a member of the priesthood. Tiring of torturing heretics and punishing renegades, he elects to flee the oppressive city with some like-minded allies, eventually founding the settlement of ...more
Tony P
Jan 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
I think this series has suffered more criticism than it deserves. Whenever I have trouble rating a book, especially by a good author whose other books I rate highly, I ask myself, What was the author trying to achieve? Did he/she succeed? I also bear in mind that a book may work on several levels, which appeal to different people: one person may like Heinlein for his excellent adventures, while another may be uninterested in the suspense but delighted by the philosophy. It is pointless criticizi ...more
Mar 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
World-Building fascinates more than any other aspect of science fiction. With that in mind, Brian Aldiss has masterfully created a world both unique and internally consistent. In Helliconia Spring, Brian Aldiss moves among three different generations of characters, but his story-telling falls short in comparison to his world-building. The planet Helliconia is truly the protagonist of the story, and its "great year" determines the evolution of the societies detailed therein. I can never quite esc ...more
Sep 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I read the Helliconia series a couple years back. As I started the first book I found it slow, sparse, but it was also enjoyable enough to keep reading. The deeper I got in the series, the more interested I became - yet it always retained a slow, deliberate pace. After finishing the series I was content, but because of the pacing of the books I wasn't blown away by them (I had just finished Hyperion/Endymion, so Helliconia was like hitting a brick wall after the whirl-wind, world-jumping my brai ...more
Feb 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
A huge story. I have just finished this first volume with two more to go. The invention is massive and detailed and the characters are very well drawn and believable. Works on the same scale as Herbert's "Dune". Well worth the read.
Finished the series some years later after working to overcome Lyme disease. Among other things, Lyme blasts your central nervous system and makes impossible to concentrate. During those years I slowly worked my way through these books.... which, it turned out, i
Sep 19, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi_fantasy
Long, detailed world constructed by Aldiss ... still quite imaginative, and the characters have a little diversity.

For those who like a reasonable dose of philosophy & religion with your SciFi this may appeal ... a good part of the book is about the main character Yuli's increasing involvement in a society driven by a bureaucratic-religious caste, and subsequent escape from it at the end.

Develops the themes of the Phagor and other humanoid races on the planet Helliconia, and towards later stages
Jun 02, 2011 rated it liked it
I don’t really care for books which get you all involved with one character and then leap forward several generations and introduce you to another entirely new set. Which this book did and the next two will probably do also. However, once we got to the second set, I was very satisfied with Aldiss’ level of intimacy with his characters. His ability to add depth to the world of Helliconia was wonderful.

But sometimes I felt I was just missing something important – there seemed to be obvious foresha
Jun 08, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The world is very interesting and complex. He introduces it in such a way that you and understand and see the original objects and creatures that inhabit it. But it doesn't have much movement toward a climax. I didn't feel for the characters and it seemed like a genealogy story. The rather pointless winding plot bored me as I waited for something more than a succession of rulers in a changing society. Getting a little more than halfway through I skipped to the end to see if it was any more excit ...more
Samuel Viana
Jul 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Great book... in a word... simply marvelous. Imagine a world were the seasons don't last only three months, but thousands of years, like on the ancient Ice Ages On Earth. And when the Spring comes, it brings a new oportunity for the Freyr's sons (the humans) to take dominance over the Batalix ones (the fagors). These two so dissimilar races battle for ages without really knowing the reason for that conflict. But when the spring comes, it is written, it's time for the humans to prosper and the Fa ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Nova
  • The Worm Ouroboros
  • California Bones (Daniel Blackland, #1)
  • Take Back Plenty (Tabitha Jute, #1)
  • Light (Kefahuchi Tract, #1)
  • The Snow Queen (The Snow Queen Cycle, #1)
  • The Pride of Chanur (Chanur #1)
  • Tamsin
  • The Dying Earth (The Dying Earth #1)
  • Heir Apparent (Rasmussem Corporation, #2)
  • Vessel
  • Les Yeux Plus Grands Que Le Ventre
  • A Late Phoenix (Inspector Sloan #4)
  • Absinthe Without Leave (Midnight Louie, Cozy-Noir feline P.I. #1)
  • Slan (Slan, #1)
  • How to Lose a Duke in Ten Days (An American Heiress in London, #2)
  • The Warrior's Apprentice (Vorkosigan Saga, #2)
  • Малыш
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

Other books in the series

Helliconia (3 books)
  • Helliconia Summer (Helliconia, #2)
  • Helliconia Winter (Helliconia, #3)

Related Articles

Space operas, magic, destiny, dystopia, aliens: There's a bit of something for everyone in 2020's latest offerings in science fiction and fantasy...
84 likes · 21 comments
“Credeti că trăim în centrul universului. Eu vă spun că trăim în centrul curtii unei ferme. Poziția noastră este atat de obscură, încat nu vă puteți da seama cât este de obscură.” 1 likes
“This is how Yuli, son of Alehaw, came to a place called Oldorando, where his descendants flourished in the better days that were to come.” 0 likes
More quotes…