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Supertoys Last All Summer Long: And Other Stories of Future Time Paperback – June 27, 2001

3.1 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Blame it on taxes. According to SFWA Grand Master Brian Aldiss, that's the main reason he sold the movie rights to the Pinocchio-android tale "Supertoys Last All Summer Long" to Stanley Kubrick back in 1982. Bound here along with two followup short stories and nine unrelated short pieces from more recent years, "Supertoys" was to be the source material for Kubrick's last movie. Of course, Kubrick died, and then Steven Spielberg inherited the rights, intending to follow through on Kubrick's original vision.

In fairness, Aldiss has never seen his original story--nor the two pieces added later, "Supertoys When Winter Comes" and "Supertoys in Other Seasons"--as a Pinocchio fable at all. As he recounts in the wry, revealing foreword to this collection, "I could not or would not see the parallels between David, my five-year-old android, and the wooden creature who becomes human.... Never consciously rewrite old fairy stories." But the interpretation of the stubbornly eccentric Kubrick prevailed until Aldiss was "wheeled out of the picture."

These three excellent stories occupy just the first 35 pages of this compilation, but they accurately capture one of the great voices of British SF at his prime, with a plaintive, thoughtfully nuanced story about existence and the meaning of being human. The remaining tales range from intriguing to distractingly strident to borderline mawkish, but make no mistake about what's the main attraction here. In fact, the foreword alone, with Kubrick exposed at his curmudgeonly worst ("[To Aldiss:] You seem to have two modes of writing--brilliant and not so damned good"), makes this a collection worth picking up. --Paul Hughes

From Publishers Weekly

The title story of this collection a 1969 vignette about a boy-robot who wants to be real captured the imagination of Stanley Kubrick, though the acclaimed director never managed to expand it into a feature-length motion picture. Two additional vignettes by SF Grand Master Aldiss 30 years later "Supertoys in Other Seasons" and "Supertoys When Winter Comes" flesh out something of a story line, which has become the basis of Steven Spielberg's probable summer blockbuster, AI. Many of the other pieces here also remain at the vignette level, merely presenting ideas rather than creating stories. "Apogee Again" and "Becoming the Full Butterfly" offer settings where sex becomes a metaphor for survival. "Beef," "A Matter of Mathematics" and "Cognitive Ability and the Light Bulb," like the speechified "III," extrapolate the eventual failure of humanity's attempts to grow and expand to other worlds without harming them. "Marvells of Utopia," "The Pause Button" and the Socratic dialogue of "A Whiter Mars" all examine different versions of Utopia, each a society that has sacrificed some basic human value in order to achieve qualified perfection. The search for a better life through time travel likewise reveals predictable results in "The Old Mythology," while "Headless" delivers heavy-handed points on crime and punishment. This collection is a mixed bag of scenes and cold, distantly told stories showcasing the author's biting sarcasm and apparent lack of hope for humanity's future. (June 27)Forecast: With Spielberg's AI due for July release, sales of this tie-in book are certain to go into orbit.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (June 27, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312280610
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312280611
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #255,702 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
That said, the three Supertoy stories are here, and are quite nice. I think some of the imagery in the three are superior to that of the movie, the first in particular (Monica's response to being allowed to breed is incredible). However, there is much more to this book than just Supertoys.
To start off Aldiss apparently hates humanity, or at the very least human vanity and self-centeredness. He also seems to think that humankind will not grow out of these flaws, instead humanity will become more and more self-centered as time goes on, so be prepared for a future that is at the same time utopia and distopia...
Aldiss's writing style does seem to swing between brilliant and not so good, but there is enough brilliant to make up for the rest. III was particularly grim (the image of what humanity does to the inhabitants of Triton will stick with you), and "A Matter of Mathematics" could possibly be made into a decent screenplay. All told, "Supertoys..." is an incredible collection of eerily plausible sci-fi that just about everyone should read once, if not more. (if just to avoid turning the inhabitants of Jupiter's moon Europa into Campbell's Canned ET)
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Format: Paperback
Without question, Brian Aldiss is a good writer, capable of writing memorable tales such as his "Supertoys" trilogy. However, this uneven collection doesn't quite rise to the high literary standards I've expected from fellow British science fiction writers J. G. Ballard and Michael Moorcock. Only "III" and "A Matter of Mathematics" are as finely wrought as "Supertoys Last All Summer Long". If you have a taste for robots, you might be better off reading Asimov, though the first "Supertoys" tale is among the finest I have read about androids and robots. And frankly, I didn't find Aldiss' space tales as engrossing as any I have read by Arthut C. Clarke. Still, Aldiss' work deserves a broad readership and those unfamiliar with his oeuvre may find this slender tome an excellent introduction.
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Format: Paperback
The first three stories have obvious parallels (which Aldiss apparently denied) with Pinnochio (and also the Tin Man in Wizard of Oz and Pygmalion and seal-wife and fairy-wife legends). Maybe I'm reading too much into this (making me guilty of deconstructionism) but I saw a pattern of recreation of old stories. "Nothing in Life is Ever Enough" tells the story of Shakespeares "Tempest" from Caliban's angle. "The Old Mythology" is what its title suggests; a visitor from a future age is present at events (told with a sharp sense of humor) that precapitulate (if that's a word) Greek and Hebrew creation myths. "Headless" is a version of the sacrificed hero described in Fraser's "Golden Bough." "A Matter of Mathematics" is about Plato's cave. In "Becoming the Full Butterfly" the breaking of a divine law results in the destruction of a world by flooding. "Talking Cubes"= "The Picture of Dorian Grey." "Steppenpferd"=the Temptation of St Anthony (I couldn't make a connection to Hesse's "Steppenwolf").
Most of the stories have down-beat endings. Whenever anybody has a good time they get their come-uppance, so it's a pessimistic view of the future. Even "The Marvels of Utopia" is dystopic - at least it's far from Thomas More. In spite of they're enjoyable because of Aldiss's sheer good writing,excellent jokes, wild imagination and page-turning action.I
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Format: Paperback
I bought this book based on the connection to the movie A.I. I am always interested in how a science fiction story or novel has been converted to the screen. I was suprised to find that all the stories except for the cover title were written recently, rather than in the time period of Supertoys, which was 1969. I have read a little Aldiss over the years and find him an OK science fiction writer with novels like Helliconia Summer. I thought the other two Supertoys stories, while written 25 years after the original, did a good job of keeping the tone of the original, they just weren't that interesting. The remaining stories were not enjoyable to me at all and I finally gave up without finishing the book.
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Format: Paperback
Like many here, I found this book because of the connection to the film A.I. However, even though the film itself had it's own flaws, the story it was based on was lacking itself: no obstacles, albeit potentially interesting characters, and not a very satisfying conclusion...having me asking "And...?"

"Supertoys Last All Summer Long," the lead story, was followed by two other sequels in the same book, but they also don't really have anything to say, no characters to latch onto, and no satisfying conclusions. Unfortunately, this basically describes the stories in the book overall.

Writing short stories is difficult: Having a beginning, middle, end...and feel "done;" and, as aforementioned, having characters that we as readers find interesting and remember. However, the stories in this book read as if they were ideas that still needed developing.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
With a caveat. In the story ""Three Types of Solitude" there appears to be a glitch in sequencing and continuity where between pages 122 and 124 a repeat of page 120 is inserted violently interrupted the flow and meaning of part 1 of the story. Or perhaps it is some kind of genius writing that eludes me. This is as far as I've read in the book which I'd bought for the purpose of reading "Super Toys Last All Summer Long". So far the stories themselves do not disappoint. Hopefully the aforementioned glitch will prove to be the only one.
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