Stephanie Griffin's Reviews > Harm

Harm by Brian W. Aldiss
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's review
Feb 19, 2012

did not like it
Recommended for: nobody.

I just don’t get this book. HARM, by the science-fiction writer Brian W. Aldiss, is about a man who is being tortured and in his delirium imagines that he is living on a planet over a thousand light-years away from Earth. Or is it the other way around: he is living on the planet Stygia and when he sleeps he dreams of living another life on a faraway planet?
This is a short (240 pages) book. I tend to want to think that Aldiss was sketching out a story and decided to stop before it was fully fleshed out.
Paul Fadhill (on Earth) is being tortured because he wrote a book that mentioned in a comedic line something about killing the Prime Minister. Fremant (on Stygia) seems to wander around without a personality or drive.
The story just doesn’t work for me. One thing really bothered me: Near the beginning there is a rape. Why? It doesn’t fit into the story. There isn’t any motivation on the part of the rapist. Its just there. Reading about a rape is bad enough, but to not make sense in the story is doubly hurtful. Secondly, the ending is abrupt and I felt like maybe I was missing something. Am I supposed to have learned something or been given something to ponder by all of this? The only thing I’m pondering now is why I read the book. Oh yeah, because I got a free copy.
Not recommended for anyone. If you want to read a science-fiction book there are plenty of other choices.

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