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Greybeard Paperback – July 1, 2001

4.0 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Paperback, July 1, 2001
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Editorial Reviews


"Greybeard is an adult Lord of the Flies without Golding’s heavy-handed symbolism and cumbersome style" -- ” NY Times

About the Author

Brian Wilson Aldiss was born in East Dareham, Norfolk, in 1925 and has written over 40 novels and over 300 short stories, making him one of the most important voices in science fiction writing today. He worked as a Bookseller in Oxford between 1947 and 1956 during which he wrote his first novel The Brightfount Diaries. His first work of science fiction was Non-Stop (1958) and he won the Most Promising New Author award at the SF convention the following year. At this time his work was characterised by innovative literary techniques and a high sexual content.

In 1962 Hothouse won a Hugo award given by the World Science Fiction Society and in the seventies he explored the experiences of a young soldier in The Horatio Stubbs Saga novels. With Frankenstein Unbound and Moreau’s Other Island he paid tribute to two founders of SF - Mary Shelley and H.G. Wells. By the time of the release of the well received Hellinconia sequence he had become one of the most prominent British SF writers rivalling such fellow authors as J.G.Ballard and Michael Moorcock

Since 1961 Aldiss has edited anthologies including SF Horizons and has regularly reviewed for the TLS as well as numerous newspapers. Other works include a history of SF, Billion Year Spree, an autobiography Twinkling of an Eye and some poetry. In 1999 he became A Grand Master at the Nebula awards given by the SF and Fantasy Writers Guild for his lifetime achievements in SF writing.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 258 pages
  • Publisher: House of Stratus Ltd (July 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0755100638
  • ISBN-13: 978-0755100637
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,655,690 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Elegantly written for a book of this type, Brian Aldiss creates a near future world in which nuclear testing has gone awry, temporarily allowing some hard radiation from the sun to saturate the earth, destroying the ability of larger mammals including humans to reproduce themselves. There are two parallel stories, one which takes place in a sad present when the youngest human beings are well into their fifties, and the other in three separate periods gradually ranging back in time to just after the initial accident. The reader therefore sees the present in light of the turbulent events of the previous fifty years when everything began to unravel.

The two main characters, Greybeard and his wife, are immensely likeable and realistic. Unlike some of Brian Aldiss's later works, this is an old fashioned book, easy to read and well plotted. The most interesting feature of the book is the immensely sad world created by the author; what's the point to life if you can't pass on your genes to another generation?

The characters must figure that out along the way.

If you like John Wyndham's and John Christopher's end of the world stories, you're bound to appreciate this one as well.
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Format: Hardcover
It was a book of Tim White's fantasy art that led me to "Greybeard". An illustration of an abandoned town, weeds sprouting from cracks in the road, half-ruined buildings covered in ivy - a scene typical of the post-disaster genre. I was intrigued by the premise behind it.
The explosion of radioactive weapons in space has disrupted Earth's protective van Allen Belt, saturating the planet with massive doses of radiation. This has resulted in sickness, deformity and sterility for the human race. In the years following the "Accident" civilization has been in steady decline, as there will be no more future generations.
Algernon Timberlane (better known as Greybeard) was six years old at the time of the disaster. He has grown up in a world that has become increasingly primitive and quiet as people succumb to old age or cancers caused by the fallout. By the time Greybeard is in his mid fifties he is one of the youngest people left in the world. England has become a wilderness thinly populated by tribes of old people living with untreatable ailments. Savage animals, no longer afraid of man, roam the countryside in packs. Some people claim to have seen goblins lurking in the shadows. With each passing year people grow more frail and feeble-minded.
This is the first novel I've read by Brian Aldiss, the man who identified John Wyndham with the "Cosy Catastrophe". "Greybeard" is a novel John Wyndham would certainly have approved of. The catastrophe that shaped this decrepit future is, however, far from cosy. A book like "Greybeard" would be a good way to argue in favour of the need for human cloning. It could well save our species.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
One of the best of the "end of the world" books, written by one the select members of the group known as the "world destroyers" back in the fifties and sixties. I began reading science fiction before I was even in junior high, and for me, this was one of the most memorable. It is still one of the best (I can count those I would consider 'the best' on one hand). The atmosphere that Aldiss creates for us begins on the first page, in the first paragraph, in the first sentence. This book will stay with me for the rest of my life. (Several years ago, I managed to find a first edition. Now, if I could just get it signed...)
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Format: Paperback
There are times when the world ends, and there are times when your world ends. This book is more or less about the difference between the two.

There's a whole genre of books out there where civilization doesn't end in a blazing hail of fire, but with a more sobering whimper as society gently crumbles around itself and everyone who is left in the pieces have to figure out how best to use the time remaining to them, because putting things back to how they were won't be an option. Aldiss, being British, can't help but sprinkle his work with a certain melancholy that skirts just shy of full blown "On the Beach" style depression. It's something about the country that infuses their science-fiction with an elegant weariness, like falling asleep after walking for miles in the snow. Sure, it will kill you, but after all that effort sometimes it's just a relief to stop.

"Greybeard" takes us into a fairly unique scenario . . . the whole adult population of earth gets sterilized. There's an accident up in the atmosphere and suddenly nobody is getting pregnant anymore. Not a problem, the human race figures. Whatever this is will probably wear off and we'll get back to making babies and filling every corner of the planet in no time.

Fast forward a few decades and clearly that hasn't happened. The Earth has basically become one big nursing home, as the youngest people on the planet are now in their fifties, and not getting younger. Suddenly everyone in the world is an AARP member and having to face the inevitable . . . once they're gone, that's it.
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