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Helliconia Spring

(Helliconia #1)

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  3,664 ratings  ·  214 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)
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Cat Bezubiak Well, I would say that only you can answer this question. Its a great book in an exceptional series. It's a rewarding read and since this question is …moreWell, I would say that only you can answer this question. Its a great book in an exceptional series. It's a rewarding read and since this question is in fact 2 years old I will hope that you go back to it and gave it another try.(less)

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Glenn Russell

Helliconia - British author Brian Aldiss' superb creation, science fiction worldbuilding comparable to Frank Herbert's Dune, or, if you like, in the world of fantasy, comparable to J.R.R. Tolkein's Lord of the Rings.

Helliconia Spring - the first volume in the trilogy. The other two volumes are Helliconia Summer and Helliconia Winter.

Take a look at the below diagram. Helliconia is a planet revolving around its sun Batalix as Batalix revolves around larger sun Frayr in an elliptical orbit. The c
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
Paul Christensen
Jan 02, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels-and-sagas
The idea of a planet with seasons lasting centuries was also used by the ‘Game of Thrones’ writer, but to feebler effect than the epic Helliconia trilogy.

Although I suspect Brian Aldiss to be an atheist who regards gods as manifestations of ‘natural forces’ or something of the kind, and his invented religions are interesting but flawed, his extremely vivid worldbuilding is successful largely thanks to his deep studies in biology. Who can forget the creatures that populate Helliconia: hoxneys, ye

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.
Juho Pohjalainen
Sep 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
A fantastic, compelling work that manages to be at once a study of a bizarre alien world with entirely different conditions than ours, an epic drama of several generations struggling to survive in it, and of all things, a bloody reality television show.

It's rather a slog at times, but still, it's one of those works I wish I'd read years ago.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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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.
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
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
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. ...more
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
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
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.
May 13, 2021 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Very interesting hard scifi worldbuilding. Hamstrung by poor writing, lack of proofreading, and a mediocre story. The prose is plainly difficult to read due to an insistence on using unpronounceable words and confoundingly made-up synonyms for plain English words. Even the "hard scifi" nature (its perhaps only draw) is marred by inclusion of inexplicable "magic". There are some moments of brilliance and inspiration, and the scale of storytelling is ambitious, but ultimately, the result falls sho ...more
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.
Combining elements of both science fiction and fantasy, Brian Aldiss’ Helliconia trilogy is an epic spanning thousands of years across multiple planets. A masterpiece of world building, its strength lies in the breadth of disciplines from which Aldiss draws. History, anthropology, biology, climate science, astronomy, and political science all undergird three stand-alone stories that are linked by a Gaia-inspired environmental thesis in an attempt to ask questions about religion, spirituality, su ...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
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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)

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