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When the Feast is Finished - a eulogy to my wife

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Travels abroad
Brian Aldiss Writer
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Margaret and I went about the place and had the kind of pleasant results one gets if one is published in, shall we say, Scandinavia. We would go to Scandinavia and that was a very pleasant time. We would go to Germany and have a pleasant time there. Then... did I go? Yes, I went on my own to Russia, and again, I was amiably treated then. Wherever I went, I found people who were very pleasant to be with.

Anywhere I didn't like? Well, for instance, in Poland… I stayed in a hotel in Poland, and the Poles then took me to see how the town of PoznaƄ had been restored, beautifully restored to what it had been before the war in contrast to the restorations that were being done in Britain at the time, where they were making rather a mess of things. Anyhow, at that meeting in Poland, there was someone who had written a novel, much praised, about the conquest of the whole world... I have to get this straight... the conquest of the whole world by the communists. And everyone thought this was a wonderful book, and they said, well, you can't imagine the capitalists writing this book. And immediately, I could feel myself getting on with that novel – that very novel – to refute them.

So I came back and I wrote a novel in which the communist world have captured not only this country, but the rest of the solar system and elsewhere, and that book is called... a pause for thought... what is that book called? Enemies of the System! Enemies of the System. And of course, yes – it's about the communists taking over. Why not? It's a free world, one can do these things and so that's what I did. And the book was moderately successful more successful, perhaps, in the United States than in England, but that's England for you.

So there we were, and that's just one example of my… my visits abroad. And I spent a long time, in particular in Sweden, where I had a friend, Sammy Lundval. Sammy Lundval published a science fiction magazine, and so I often stayed with him or near him and we had a very pleasant time and I formed a very good opinion, I must say, of Sweden.

 

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: Scandinavia, Poland, Poznań, Sweden

Duration: 4 minutes, 15 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2014

Date story went live: 17 August 2015