?REYBEARD by Brian W. Aldiss


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The earlier Brian Aldiss books which were published in this country were science fiction and this is an extension of the form, actually more meditative than active so that ideas do not always move the story along sufficiently. However its interest lies in its tour (de force) of a wintry wilderness world some time after the Accident (the bomb). Only a few people have survived in isolated, stockaded villages. They are all old and death stands ""impatiently over the land waiting to count his last few pilgrims."" There is little or no new life, except for the savage stoats multiplying rampantly and threatening this little commune of Sparcot where Greybeard and his wife Martha live. The story moves back and forward, to the time just before the Accident following the war. Now, abandoning Sparcot, they travel on, meet the charlaten Jingadangelow with his promises of new and eternal life, and finally recognize in themselves that man's strongest instinct is to destroy... A cautionary tale which gains much of its effectiveness from its densely descriptive projection. It makes few sentimental concessions (Shute, etc.) while dealing with that which may prove to be, reader-wise, recalcitrant material.

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace & World