In this science fiction classic (1962) based on , Hugo Best Short Story Winner of 1962, we are transported millions of years from now, to the boughs of a colossal banyan tree that covers one face of the globe. The last remnants of humanity are fighting for survival, terrorised by the carnivorous plants and the grotesque insect life.
The title to a story is all important, as not only must it encapsulate the intent of the fiction, but it must also capture a reader’s interest. It’s interesting therefore to find how often titles will become standards, almost The format of the above title, for instance, really owes its origin to the American genius Edgar Allan Poe, who won first-prize in a story contest in 1833 with his short sf-horror tale Ever since that date, that title format has been used by many authors to indicate a story wherein the fate of the narrator is unknown. A few recent examples are Cyril Kornbluth’s (1957), Hal Draper’s (1961), Gary Jennings’ (1973) and Robert Silverberg’s (1973). And I very much doubt that will be the last of them.
The following story is a step outside what one might expect from Brian Aldiss - but then Aldiss’s talents are so varied today that perhaps one should expect the unexpected from him. After all, his recent novels (1974) and (1974) are a far cry from earlier books like (1964) and (1964). It is of course this versatility that makes Aldiss Britain’s top sf writer.
As stated previously, Aldiss has a knack of appearing in the most unexpected places. Not too long ago, carried his article on sex in sf magazine art; and have also published Aldiss on art in sf. He has had poems published in such unlikely places as and
Similarly some of his fiction turns up where one wouldn’t expect it, from and to picture post cards! His vignette appeared in the June 8 1969 and in the March 1966 Aldiss’s second choice for this book, has appeared only once before, in (1972) and for the bulk of the sf reading public this will be its first airing. Aldiss’s comments about his fiction also cover his first choice which was included in Volume one.
‘Immensity is a part of us - the better part, I think, lying remote from the petty transactions of everyday like a moor beyond a mean town. It is something worth striving towards. Science fiction is one of the languages of immensity, although in many stories immensity is dwarfed by tiny ideas or silly psychology. You have to turn to the great grey master of British science fiction, Olaf Stapledon, to be confronted by Immensity, naked and unchained.
‘There’s little I can say about my stories included in the anthologies, except to point out that immensity lurks somewhere in the wings of both of them. incorporates some of the hidden symbols of Edgar Allan Poe; it may one day form the basis of a novel, although its. reprinting here makes that possibility more remote.’
‘When correcting the early drafts of stories, I go through them striking out adjectives. I have to be particularly firm about the word “vast”. Both and are the sort of story from which a number of “vasts” were probably struck.’