Part II of the big, ambitious trilogy begun with Helliconia Spring (1981), a series which--with its maze of observers and...

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HELLICONIA SUMMER

Part II of the big, ambitious trilogy begun with Helliconia Spring (1981), a series which--with its maze of observers and observed, its medieval setting--resembles a cross between Report on Probability A and The Malacia Tapestry. Helliconia, a planet with two suns, where the seasons last for centuries, is now well into its scorching summer; the humans are stuck in a medieval, religion-dominated, city-state rut, while the phagors (their age-old, shaggy, sapient rivals) are mostly hated and feared. And this time the plot revolves around the unpredictable King of Borlien--who, threatened by barbarians, resolves to cement an alliance with neighboring Oldorando by divorcing his loving, popular queen to marry a child princess: it's a delicate arrangement complicated by the devious interference of the seafaring Sibornalese and the holy Pannoval empire. Mean-while, the crew of the orbiting satellite Avernus are televising the proceedings--and themselves--back to distant Earth. (Completely isolated, losing their grip on reality, the Avernians every year send an eager volunteer down to Helliconia--where, thanks to the virus that mediates the natives' changeover from cold to heat adaptation, they face swift, certain death.) And, smaller in scope than the first volume, this is a steadier installment--with churning power politics, wide panoramas, and characters in better focus. . . even if Aldiss' Helliconia remains more impressive than fully alive or involving.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1983

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1983