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Discovering some of the world’s wonders


Born in a shower of tears
Brian Aldiss Writer
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My mother, married to her… her great love, I believe, Stanley Aldiss. Stanley Aldiss had been in World War I, had been injured, had spent some time outside Cairo recovering, came home, married May Wilson. The Wilsons came from Peterborough. May Wilson was taken to live in Dereham, and Dereham is a long way, I would say, down the social scale from Peterborough... we'll get to that later.

But my mother gave birth to a stillborn child, a daughter, and her grief was great. Five years after that contretemps, she gave birth again. And so I, a boy, emerged in a shower of tears because she had expected to deliver a girl. And so, there was always this thing hanging over me, that somehow, I wasn't what they wanted. My father was not the most tactful of men; he made it quite clear that he felt I was a bit of an obstacle to his ideas.

Brian Aldiss (1925-2017) was an English writer and anthologies editor, best known for his science fiction novels and short stories. He was educated at Framlingham College, Suffolk, and West Buckland School, Devon, and served in the Royal Signals between 1943-1947. After leaving the army, Aldiss worked as a bookseller in Oxford, an experience which provided the setting for his first book, 'The Brightfount Diaries' (1955). His first science fiction novel, 'Non-Stop', was published in 1958 while he was working as literary editor of the 'Oxford Mail'. His many prize-winning science fiction titles include 'Hothouse' (1962), which won the Hugo Award, 'The Saliva Tree' (1966), which was awarded the Nebula, and 'Helliconia Spring' (1982), which won both the British Science Fiction Association Award and the John W Campbell Memorial Award. Several of his books have been adapted for the cinema. His story, 'Supertoys Last All Summer Long', was adapted and released as the film 'AI' in 2001. His book 'Jocasta' (2005), is a reworking of Sophocles' classic Theban plays, 'Oedipus Rex' and 'Antigone'.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: mother, pregnancy, daughter, son, disappointment

Duration: 1 minute, 55 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2014

Date story went live: 17 August 2015