January 1, 2013

HothouseThis is an ambitious work by Brian Aldiss, trying to depict the life of the future Earth, nearing the last stage of our Sun’s evolution before it shut down.

The time is millions of years from now, the sun has evolve into a red giant, the Earth has stopped rotating, creating a perpetual day and perpetual night in the region of the Earth. Human has ceased to be the dominant species, many animal species have gone extinct, the dominant life forms are plants. The last remnants of human species live above the gigantic banyan tree. The sun is simply too hot to face directly forever trapping human to live under the shade of tree.

The story starts with a group of human, showing the details of daily life above the tree, which is nasty, brutish, and short (to quote Thomas Hobbes). Most predators are in form of plants. Animal predators had been long gone, only a very small numbers left. The world that is created by Aldiss is immense with details, and he gives the species very unique name.

Unfortunately, the story later loose the direction. The events portrayed seems to be trivial to interest the readers. Later, nearing the end of the novel, the plot picks up, thus saving the novel from becoming a total mess.

What interest me most is that Aldis used biology in building his sci-fi setting. This is refreshing because most sci-fi are playing with physics. His choice of setting in the near-nova Sun is also unique. In general I would say, the setting is the best part that you can get from this novel, because the plot of the story is not as interesting as the world building.

PS: This is the vision of future earth, if you have too much “mushroom” in your head!

Verdict: 3/5


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