Helliconia Winter by Brian W. Aldiss
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Well, I'm glad that I can say that I finally read the Helliconia trilogy.
The main reason I enjoyed it was the worldbuilding. The characters, their having to deal with not only this alien world during different Great Seasons, are, at least to me, secondary to my sheer enjoyment of trying to understand the world itself.
This volume goes all the way in giving us a full explanation of the great cycles, the physiological changes that the humans and sub-human and alien creatures have to go through to survive the great winter, or by remembering Helliconia Summer, the reversed changes from here. (A great plague in either case, killing off so many but whomever survives, survives vastly changed.)
The comparisons between this world and the Earth, what happened to the Earth, our many colonies, was a fantastic addition.
But this is me. I love great worldbuilding, and that includes the sociological upheavals in these books. It was often about plain survival and while I did have some issues about the returning of all this religiosity that they had apparently escaped in Summer, I understand it. Everyone's brains changed. It was survival of the most isolationist, exploitative. It's a good message even if I personally thought it was horrible. It's a great mirror to the first book. In that one, we got a rebellion and the collapse of the priesthood. In this, the re-establishment.
Definitely worth reading. I may not have cared all that much about the dated sex stuff or some of the side-stories but the amount of care he put into making everything hang together is quite extraordinary.
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