Brian Aldiss

Science fiction writers who should be in the canon ahead of Philip K Dick, part 6

Usually I find it’s J G Ballard who is writing the scripts for the news, but almost everything about the Beijing Olympics seems to be straight out of Aldiss’ 70s stories like ‘A Chinese Perspective’. The Bird’s Nest looks so much like a structure from an Aldiss story that it’s a little spooky.

Aldiss’ ideas about China are always teetering on the brink of kitschy Orientalism, but no more than most Western thinking about China. What Aldiss got completely right about the struggle between capitalism and communism was that it would end in a compromise which very few people would even make the effort to be embarrassed about.

In Aldiss’ novel The 80 Minute Hour the two ideologies explicitly merge as CapCom, which is then marketed as a global brand. The 80 Minute Hour is one of the few space operas which is literally an opera, with characters occasionally breaking into song – it’s a lurid and slightly camp fantasia. After reading this io9 article about eradicating campiness from science fiction I came to the conclusion that sf is inherently camp, because what would you have left over? I think Aldiss would agree.

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