Read Helliconia Winter by Brian W. Aldiss Online


This is the final volume of the Helliconia Trilogy -- a monumental saga that goes beyond anything yet created by this master among today's imaginative writers. The centuries-long winter of the Great Year on Helliconia is upon us, and the Oligarch is taking harsh measures to ensure the survival of the people of the bleak Northern continent of Sibornal. Behind the battle witThis is the final volume of the Helliconia Trilogy -- a monumental saga that goes beyond anything yet created by this master among today's imaginative writers. The centuries-long winter of the Great Year on Helliconia is upon us, and the Oligarch is taking harsh measures to ensure the survival of the people of the bleak Northern continent of Sibornal. Behind the battle with which the novel opens lies an act of unparalleled treachery. But the plague is coming on the wings of winter and the Oligarch's will is set against it -- and against the phagors, humanity's ancient enemies, who carry the plague with them....

Title : Helliconia Winter
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ISBN : 9780743445160
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 304 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Helliconia Winter Reviews

  • Metaphorosis
    2018-12-23 22:23

    3 starsMetaphorosis ReviewsIn Helliconia Winter, Brian Aldiss finally settles into the human-scale story he approached in Summer. The result is, if not exactly intimate, still substantially more engaging than the previous volumes. Winter is coming, and with it the Fat Death, the plague that kills some and transforms others to prepare them for centuries of cold ahead.It's hard to say that any of Helliconia's characters is particularly likeable, but they are, at least, interesting. There's more action and less philosophy here. Enough of the secrets of the world are revealed for the content to be satisfying, though some of the mechanisms lean toward the arbitrary.To be frank, my reaction on finishing the series was mainly of relief. It's seldom that I find books this slow. Mainly, I think the issue is that Aldiss, lost in the vast scope of his plan, forgot to approach it through characters we could identify with. That gradually improved as the trilogy progressed, but even in this last volume, I didn't care enough about the lead protagonist, Luterin Shokerandit, to have strong feelings about what happened to him. While an improvement on its predecessors, Winter is not a strong book.

  • Fantasy Literature
    2018-12-28 16:57

    4.5 stars from Jesse, read the full review at FANTASY LITERATURELike an architect seeing a cathedral they’ve designed have the steeple raised, or an engineer watching the bowsprit attached to a ship they’ve built, so too must Aldiss have felt writing the final chapter of Helliconia Winter (1985). The orbits within orbits, themes revolving around themes, and characters caught in the cycle of life, come to an end. But only on the page.The series has covered millennia. The third and final book, Helliconia Winter, continues to tell a human-scale tale in harmony with the larger forces at play — geology, astrophysics, and biology all heavily influencing the narrative. This time around, however, Aldiss wields a heavier thematic hammer. The understated Gaian theme of Helliconia Spring and Helliconia Summer is now pressed on the reader in more overt and convincing tones. Tying into the major concepts presented in earlier volumes, Helliconia Winter is a genuine capstone to a sublime series.Like Helliconia Summer, Helliconia Winter does not pick up the story where the previous volume ended. It instead jumps roughly 500 Helliconian years into the future. Steam engines are beginning to replace livestock, a railway network is starting to take shape, and cannons and guns are manufactured with precision and consistency. The apex of the planet’s blistering summer has passed and the onset of winter moves imminently closer with each technological advance. the full review at FANTASY LITERATURE

  • Turin Turambar
    2019-01-06 18:03

    1.5 stars.Oh. my. god. Everything I feared would happen in this book while reading the first two happened and then some: the deeply nonscientific Gaia BS, the preachiness, assimilating every human ambition to "possession", "power" and delusions of grandeur, anti-space and anti-technology propaganda, and if it wasn't enough the characters were less interesting if not infuriating at times. I liked Spring and Winter - not very much, but I liked them. This one is just terrible.

  • Ivana
    2018-12-28 20:17

    The epic trilogy about the world of Helliconia, in some ways so similar to Earth, and yet, because of the virus, forever out of our reach, is finished, and in a good way. It is a very ambitious project to cover the span of a few thousand years, and more, in a science fiction trilogy, but Aldiss managed to do it -- and he did it through human (and not just human) drama and political intrigue, thus making it very alive and never boring or like an encyclopedia entry.

  • Natasha Hurley-Walker
    2019-01-13 23:09

    It's difficult to summarise my experience reading this trilogy in a simple review. For starters, I felt I couldn't adequately judge the first book alone, no more than one could judge a tree by its first leaves, so I read the whole trilogy as if it were part of one large arc - if not quite a great circle. Besides the sheer length of book to review, the other problem I have is that I just didn't enjoy it very much. But this is a trilogy about aliens living in a complex biosphere and plots the rise and fall of multiple empires in the vastness of space. It combines biology and physics and romantic fantastical stories. If I, an avid fan of science fiction and fantasy, don't enjoy it, who on earth is its target audience?So - to the review.Helliconia is a planet orbiting a star (Batalix) distant from Earth, in a highly elliptical orbit about a binary companion (Freyr). As an astronomer, I can thoroughly vouch for the accuracy and detail into which Aldiss goes describing the stellar and planetary types, and the astrophysical (mis)fortunes through which Helliconia goes. I am more confused by his astronomy in how it relates to the Great Summer and Winter. In spring, around the equator, Freyr is depicted as becoming brighter and larger - fair enough, the Batalix--Helliconia system is approaching periastron with Freyr, so the latter will increase in apparent luminosity. However at the end of the third book, set in Sibornal, at a latitude similar to the UK on Earth, Freyr is depicted as sinking below the horizon, not to rise again for many centuries. If it sets, then it must be visible elsewhere on the planet. If by some twisting of orbits one can ensure that Freyr no longer rises on Sibornal (like our own Sun does not rise north of the Polar Circle during the Arctic winter), then on the other side of the planet, there must be a comfortable country where they will observe Freyr happilly for several centuries, only losing it at periastron, when it returns to Sibornal. This would also mean that the Helliconian Freyr-day is the same length as the Great Year, or near enough that humans have yet to have determined the difference. Which I'm pretty sure humans would have noticed by now, and all migrated to the country where Freyr is visible during the Great Winter, and invisible during the all-too-hot summer. So - my issue here is that the world is believable *up to a point*, and then the system of logic is discarded in favour of making a scene work. This is a familiar pattern throughout the books.In Helliconia's biology, humans are depicted as (view spoiler)[having evolved from Others (monkey-alikes), having been kept as pets by the native Helliconian species, the phagor. Simultaneously (in an astonishingly ignorant wave of the Improbability Wand), humans evolve on Earth and follow a similar history to our own reality. Not only is the simultaneity irritating, more reminiscent of a late 19th/early 20th space opera than its own much better-informed epoch, the idea that two species could evolve on separate planets and be *so alike that no one can tell the difference*... well, I have no words. It's an absolutely massive tease, given that the whole story is built on a carefully-laid foundation of a realistic planet with a biosphere that gives you clues to its origins. Having humans on both planets simply screams for an explanation - even ST:TNG's "The Chase" provides a more satisfying defense of latex-studded foreheads than Aldiss' eventual handwave in 'Summer' that Helliconians are merely "human-like". When you're seeing clues as small as the stripes on the skin of hoxneys, the colours of the hairs of aging phagors, or the linguistic similarities between some words in the (utterly unpronounceable) human and phagor languages, expecting the reader to ignore that the chance of totally unrelated humans evolving separately on two planets is vanishingly small... is just incomprehensible. (hide spoiler)]While we're on the subject of language, I'd like to tell you about a few of my friends. They have names. I know, names, eh? Useful things, everyone has them. Some of my friends have two syllables in their name, some have three. A couple are known only by one, and a startlingly large number are called Dave. A tiny minority have names which are difficult to read on first try, but in those cases, are usually known by a part of their name more easily pronounceable.On Helliconia, everyone has a unique name. In Winter, it's a nice short name like 'Grunt' or 'Augh!'. For the rest of the year, it's an utterly unprounceable mishmash of syllables with capital letters randomly added throughout. The only ones I can remember are 'Yuli' - because it appears twice, and is the Helliconian equivalent of 'Dave' - and 'Sartorilvrash' - again because it appears twice, and on second viewing I actually tried to say it out loud, but gave up when I bit my tongue on the fourth attempt, the pain giving me temporary eidetic powers. I know that one of the major female characters has a name a bit like the sound that murlocs make in Warcraft. I didn't even try to pronounce that one, much as I enjoyed the character.Back to the biology point, Aldiss does paint a beautiful picture of a very 'other' world that has adapted (8 million years is ok, should be enough) to a long difficult winter and melancholy flowering of a fleeting summer. But again, some of the biological details are just not consistent and cry out for an explanation. (view spoiler)[How did a social animal (the phagor) that cares for its young and its elderly arise from a necrogenic species (the flaembreg)? Sure, they look the same, but that's like saying that dolphins must have evolved from sharks, because they both swim in the water and have sharp teeth. Aldiss ignores their utterly different systems of reproduction in order to make an easy narrative point for the characters on their voyage, while keeping the 'otherness' cool-factor of the necrogenes. (hide spoiler)]Frustratingly, I could see what Aldiss was trying to do. I loved how much detail he put into everything - but despite the amount it just didn't hang together well enough. The characters were... memorable, I will give him that. Their names are impossible but some of the stories were quite dramatic to follow - Helliconians really have a tough lot compared to Earthlings.(view spoiler)[(Of course, Aldiss gives us the medicine we thoroughly deserve...) My favourite scene was that of Sartori--*cough* *ow* - Darwin - there, that's better - giving an address on the natural history of Helliconia to the gathered medieval elite. Who, when finding out that their precious god is nothing more than an idol of their worst enemy, promptly start the mother of all fistfights. It's funny because it's true. (hide spoiler)]Of course - I find that scene funny because it agrees with my own sentiments, that religion is the enemy of science, but Aldiss too often sets up these stories to justify his morality; I enjoy the bits I agree with and get annoyed by the bits I don't, but either way it's a cheap trick.(view spoiler)[ So the poor Avernians, who have science but no belief, find themselves becoming more and more distant from reality, then lose all sanity and end their ship-borne lives in a meaningless paroxysm of violence. Which happens too on Earth, but Aldiss' magic Earth-mother saves the stupid humans from their fate, restoring the biosphere to a liveable state for oxygen-breathers in a mere few centuries. I find this all a little too neat. The Avernians would have been dispassionate enough to save themselves, perhaps restarting their society from clone-born scratch (e.g. Moon), or giving themselves interesting projects to perform beyond their boring surveillance duties. And why stop with Avernus? They could build fleets of colony ships just like Earth did. The Earthlings probably *wouldn't* have survived, let alone magically grown empathy-feelers and started worshipping giant mobile tetrahedrons (a new kind of energy? that doesn't involve killing things? HOW CONVENIENT.)Humans on both planets are also depicted as falling prey to the dictates of religion. But again I find this unbelievable on Helliconia. They have evidence of life after death. Evidence even of some kind of mother-god beneath their feet! What else would you worship given that your god actually exists? Why make up something that doesn't work when you have something that does?? Characters even use the underworld to transmit messages across the planet - a sort of undead telegram system. How could any human-invented religion possibly compete with that? Not to mention the military and industrial possibilities... Aldiss didn't even scratch the surface (oh ho ho...)(hide spoiler)]Writing-wise, Aldiss does well, although he's far better at describing landscapes, ecosystems and the movements of the sky than he is at describing people and events. Many crucial events are skipped over for dramatic emphasis. A man hears something extraordinary from an authority figure, and then is being pursued, blood on his hands - we don't see the actual moment of violence, but we do get to hear internal agonising about it later. The point-of-view of the books is a little weird - the reader is treated to long objective discourses on anatomy and astronomy, but also hears the thoughts inside the Helliconians' heads. It basically feels like Aldiss is talking - I could never get away and feel really immersed in what was going on.I liked the melancholy, I liked the examples of human striving in the face of adversity, the pathos of a 2,000-year-long-year, the need of people to make sense of the world, and not to be alone. But to me the world-building was a misspent distraction, because Aldiss didn't follow through and really use what he'd built up. We had no(view spoiler)[ real connection between the two worlds, no explanation for the humans on both worlds, no reconciliation with or exploration of the philosophy of the phagors, no shred of hope of civilisation surviving the next Great Winter, and no use or explanation of a fascinating and rich afterlife (hide spoiler)] just... many disconnected threads strolling through a beautiful but shakily-constructed world. I am glad I managed to get through the books, and appreciate the effort that went into them, but I was disappointed that the internal logic didn't hold, so neither could my suspension of disbelief. I could not escape to Helliconia.

  • Adam Whitehead
    2019-01-19 18:24

    The world of Helliconia is moving away from the supergiant star Freyr. The Great Winter is about to descend on the planet with full, unmitigated fury. The tropical continent of Campannlat is ill-prepared to deal with the falling temperatures, and the defeat of their armies by the forces of the harsh northern landmass of Sibornal signals the beginning of the end of their period of dominance. Luterin Shokerandit, a soldier in the Sibornalese army, returns home in triumph, only to face treachery. The ruthless leader of Sibornal, the Oligarch, has decreed that the victorious army is returning home infested with plague, and cannot be allowed to reach succor.Meanwhile, life on the Earth Observation Station Avernus, in orbit around Helliconia for almost four millennia, is drawing to an end as the inhabitants revert to savage barbarism, even as the world beneath them falls from the glories of Summer into the abyss of Winter. But some in Sibornal have vowed that humanity and civilisation will ride out the Winter no matter the cost in blood...Helliconia Winter picks up the story of the world of Helliconia 478 local years - 669 Earth years - after the events of Helliconia Summer. As before, whilst the individual characters who starred in the previous novel are long dead the fall-out of their actions continues to have consequences in this novel, although in this case at something of a remove, since the action is now transplanted to the northern continent of Sibornal. Here, we follow a band of characters led by the betrayed Luterin as he struggles to return to his distant home in the Shivenink Chain, giving rise to what, potentially, should have been the most dynamic storyline in The Helliconia Trilogy. Instead, we get a travelogue. A fascinating, intelligent, well thought-out travelogue, but nevertheless there is the feeling of Aldiss pointing out the cool scenery at the expense of developing his themes in tandem with the plot.This is not to say that the themes Aldiss wished to explore with the trilogy have been neglected, but they have been shunted into a somewhat unfocused subplot that ranges from the Avernus back to Earth and to one of Earth's almost-failed colony worlds. These ideas are interesting and intelligently-handled, but whilst in Spring and Summer they integrated nicely into the Helliconian story, here they are separated, to the detriment of both. That said, it is satisfying to get an answer for the mystery of why the Helliconian afterlife spirits went from angry, monstrous creatures in Helliconia Spring to peaceful, loving entities in Helliconia Summer, and these developments do a good job of tying the relevance of events in the two earlier books to the events of this one.On the plus side, Aldiss's gift for invention remains formidable here. The landforms the characters pass through, the political machinations within the government of Sibornal and its member-states and the constant evolution of the flora and fauna of Helliconia to deal with its climatic extremes all remain stunning. His characters are similarly well-drawn and convincing, but it has to be said in this case they are mostly unpleasant and selfish characters whose ambitions and motivations are interesting on an intellectual level, but unengaging on an emotional one. In particular, his female characters receive short shrift here, which is odd especially after the first book in the series (where it is the women of Oldorando who drive forward its scientific and technological development). The ending is also rather more unsatisfying than in the first two books, where the ambiguous conclusions are alleviated by us learning what happened next in historical texts mentioned in the succeeding volume. With no succeeding volume to Helliconia Winter, the ending is too abrupt.Helliconia Winter (****) is packed with inventive ideas, fascinating characters and some genuinely exciting and dramatic moments. However, it is the weakest book of the trilogy, with an unsatisfying ending and a cold, remote prose style that is not as engaging as the first two books in the series. Nevertheless, the ambition and achievement of the trilogy as a whole remains stunning. The novel is available now in the USA and in the UK will be reissued as part of the new Helliconia omnibus due for release on 12 August this year.

  • Steve
    2019-01-14 01:14

    Winter has come. And humanity has learned either nothing at all, or simply the wrong lessons, but life will on. Such is the dour ending of a dour trilogy. As the Great Winter of Helliconia- a five-century mini-ice-age - draws nigh, the northern continent of Sibornal tries to prepare, and as so often when faced with a threat, uses that threat to justify fear, repression and Othering. They also deny their role in the natural order, trying to control or destroy that which they cannot. As always the grand themes of the book are well worth discussing, but the actual book leaves a lot to be desired; the characters are difficult to empathize with and there is little better to hope for- this is a world that's been trapped in greater and lesser repression for thousands of years and seemingly not going anywhere. I am a Romantic; I search for the hopeful (if not happy) ending, and the lessons to be derived. But I couldn't get any of that out of Helliconia; at best, we should not strive for mastery over nature? And that, for humanity, only comes at great cost.

  • Florin Constantinescu
    2019-01-12 18:08

    A science fiction series with fantasy plots and a planet as the main character is how I'd describe this series. The books share very few plot lines, but closely follow the changes of an entire ecosystem across three seasons, so should be read in order.What Brian W. Aldiss does here is nothing short of amazing. I have yet to read such interesting and detailed biological descriptions of the denizens of "Helliconia". He is also very adept at building local "legends" that are slowly unraveled as the series progresses, but not necessarily by the characters in the book.The only thing I regret is that there wasn't a fourth "Autumn" book in the series. I'm sure the author would've been able to find more to write about.

  • Rachael
    2018-12-30 20:08

    Not as strong as the others (specifically the first one) but still enjoyable. (view spoiler)[ I would be interested to see what another installment of the series would entail, if the eradication of the phagors was as widespread as the Oligarchy was claiming, and presumably, if the Fat Death plague was halted. Also, with the ending of operations on the Avernus... -(hide spoiler)]On the whole, it was a fitting end to the series, with things sort of trailing away into the sunset in a dreamy sort of way.

  • Chris
    2019-01-16 21:26

    The final book of the series brings us to the beginning of winter, and the machinations of various groups trying to see society through the looming period. This one gets a little weird as Aldiss talks more about Earth and injects more sentiment. The characters continue to have a murky sense of morality and killing remains shockingly casual. It doesn't bode well for humanity changing their trajectory through winter in any positive way.

  • Bjørn Sørlien
    2019-01-17 00:06

    Liked this a lot more than spring and summer

  • Ian
    2019-01-01 20:59

    This probably ought to be called "Autumn" rather than "Winter" as it mostly concerns the Sibornalese civilisation's preparations for the forthcoming "Weyr"-winter, rather than life in the depths of the planets centuries long "mini ice-age". Technology hasn't quite advanced as far as one would hope either; this is a few centuries after Summer and I'd have thought they'd have got as far as steam engines (there is a very brief mention of some primitive railways) if not electricity, but they aren't quite there and will obviously be knocked back again by the deteriorating conditions. Given that this is around 500 years after "Summer" I'd have thought they'd have got as far as the 19th Century but they seem to be stuck in around the 17th - there has also not been a religious reformation and God the Azoiaxic still reigns supreme.The first half of this is another great adventure yarn - we have the battle of Isturiacha, the retreat and then the dash along the coast before the challenges of the journey up to Kharnabar. We also have the grotesque challenges of the Fat Death and the tyranny of the Oligarch. This is all enjoyable and a lot less bogged down with politics than Summer. However, the second half is dominated by asides covering deteriorating conditions on the Avernus and indeed a lot of future history, and philosophy, on Earth itself.I found the Earth stuff in particular getting in the way of the main story. It also dates the book badly - lots of 1980s obsessions with nuclear war and Gaia. A similar phase now may include a new incarnation of Gaia but would focus more on an environmental catastrophe.A highlight of the book is the description of the Great Wheel itself. This is mentioned in the other books but the claustrophobic and isolating experience of Luterin's time in it is quite profound. But, like him, I do wonder how the thing could be made and started (I think the river actually does everything and the prisoners' contribution is negligble - otherwise they'd never had got it started and would be at risk of it stopping permanently if a plague or anything else wiped out a large enough proportion of them. "Pull you biwackers!").An enjoyable conclusion to the series and better than "Summer" though the very nature of Helliconia's Great Year means the end is with a sombre mood as civilisation girds its loins for the impending centuries of cold, even while surrounded by summery murals and in snow covered fields called "the vinyard".I still think it should be called Autumn. And I think the map is wrong - with two suns I'd expect the planet to have two sets of tropics and polar circles - unless the orbit of Batalyx around Freyr corresponds to Helliconia's ecliptic around Batalyx (and that there are eclipses suggests it doesn't). Unless my understanding of celestial mechanics is faulty (which it may be).There is scope for another "Winter" book I think, perhaps set in Hespagorat (which has a Scandinavian feel in Summer) as Freyr never sets but also never gives much warmth.

  • Nicolas
    2019-01-16 18:12

    Dans ce roman, on suit les pas d'un homme, Luterin Shoderankit, dans ses aventures autour du glacial continent de Sibornal, qui s'enfonce doucement dans l'hiver des grandes années d'Helliconia. Toutes ces aventures n'ont hélas pas vraiment de but, car Luterin est un pantin dont les ficelles sont tirées par son père (mais de loin, donc il s'en doute pas). Du coup, on le voit errer à travers les préparatifs militaires d'une nation qui souhaite survivre par tous les moyens à un hiver qui durera plusieurs siècles. Et dans ce cas, d'une manière typique, on voit apparaître le combat classique entre les conservateurs, qui vont tenter de faire survivre un mode de vie quitte à le vider de sa substance, et les partisans de l'adaptation, qui ne savent pas trop ce qu'ils vont venir, mais savent néanmoins qu'ils veulent voir changer les choses.Je ne sais pas si ça se voit, mais j'ai trouvé l'ensemble de ce roman franchement ennuyeux. Le héros n'est pas franchement charismatique, pas plus que les personnages l'accompagnant, ses aventures ne sont pas non plus vraiment palpitantes et les décors traversés sont (à l'exception de la roue de Kharnabar) quasiment sinistres.Et ce n'est pas le paratexte qui nous présente une Terre transformée après un hiver nucléaire qui va semer ce roman. car ce paratexte vire dans le new-age le plus sordide, avec amour universel, illumination de Gaïa et nomadisme bobo.En fait, je me demande bien ce qui a pu m'attirer dans ma jeunesse dans le cycle d'Helliconia. Parce que oui, c'est une relecture. Je devais avoir environ quinze ans quand je l'ai lu la première fois et je dois reconnaître que ces bouquins m'avaient plutôt marqué, avec leurs phagors et autres nécrogènes. Je n'y vois plus maintenant qu'un moyen pour Aldiss de masquer les multiples incohérences de ces livre-mondes. Car incohérences il y a : de l'apparition de l'homme à la station Avernus, il n'y a pas grand chose qui tienne la route.Et du coup, je n'ai plus qu'à vous recommander de passer votre chemin, pour lire des oeuvres plus intéressantes (et il y en a quand même un paquet).

  • Jana
    2019-01-06 19:14

    I loved this series.Aldiss achieved an incredible feat of world-building. Helliconia is detailed and intricate and rich, the ecosystem finely tuned to the specific quirks of the binary star system he imagined. The necrogenic animals, the cycles across the Great and Small Years, the subhuman races and their quirks all blew my mind. The Bone Fever and Fat Death and their use for adapting Helliconia's humans to the changing seasons were just brilliant. The subplot dealing with background developments on Earth was just as well done.Even though each book dealt with an entirely different set of characters, it was never difficult to empathise and become involved in their struggles. The characters were realistic and human, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. The interactions between man and woman across the books (Shay Tal and Aoz Roon, MyrdemInggala and JandolAnganol, Luterin and Toress Lahl) mimicked the themes and progression of each phase of Helliconia so well that I just stand amazed. This is a world that has not left me since I read Helliconia Spring. It is an immense tapestry of story and world, threads from centuries ago resurfacing for some small relevance in a new setting created by the position of a planet relative to two suns. It is simply genius.

  • Dominic Green
    2019-01-19 20:11

    Like so much of Aldiss, the Helliconia series combines colossal artistic talent with a grumpy, curmudgeonly view of the universe. The great wheels that the stars mark out around each other - the driving point of the Helliconia series is the fact that a red star, Batalix, orbits elliptically around a much larger star, Freyr - act as metaphors for the wheel of fate which, as far as individual human beings are concerned, grinds exceedingly small. All species on Helliconia - the "human" inhabitants who are the stories' protagonists, the phagors who retreat to high mountains in the summer and descend to rule the planet in the winter, and the hoxneys, Wutra's worms and kaidaws that flesh out the Helliconian ecosystem, will all survive (have all *evolved* to survive) each successive winter. The individuals that make up those species, though, are guaranteed to perish horribly. Accordingly, Helliconia's sentient species revere the wheel - the Pannovalian god Akhanaba is so depicted, and in this, the final book, where we finally get to see the mysterious northern continent of Sibornal, there is an actual metaphor made stone in the shape of a colossal wheel filled with religious contemplatives cranking it perpetually around inside a mountain. O fortuna, rota tu volubilis.

  • Patrick
    2019-01-02 22:18

    Solid conclusion to this series.This one focuses on the northern continent Sibornal, and amongst the plotting and goings-on of the details of the characters is largely a meditation on the justifiability or lack thereof of an authoritian society to 'preserve civilization' as the Helliconian Winter sets in. Shades of Orwell in this respect ... though the main characters do go through some interesting developments, I felt the twists and turns were generally fairly predictable and it wasn't quite as colorful as the first 2 books in the series.In particular I was hoping for more of a denoument of the conflict between the humanoids ('Sons of Freyr') and the Phagors, which the 2nd book seemed to be leading up to, but that didn't get resolved or explored in much depth in this book IMHO. Aldiss seemed to get much more interested in telling the future of Earth, which was hinted at in the earlier books but which got a lot more attention here. Those parts were interesting, though never reached the heights of for example Olaf Stapleton's 'Last and First Men'.Still, a complellingly realised universe and good enough to get me to read in 1 or 2 sittings.

  • Kay
    2019-01-13 22:09

    My feeling about this is that Aldiss was running out of steam by Book Three - and why not? It is an absolutely magisterial trilogy; encompassing the best of world-building, almost before that phrase was invented, superb anthropology and biology, not to mention complex cosmology and wonderfully absorbing stories. Helliconia Summer is my favourite, because the characters (human and phagor) brim with life.On reflection then, as Aldiss writes about the Great Year, and in Helliconia Winter, about the turning of that more than millennial year to cold, to exhaustion, to hibernation and loss of knowledge, of community, of faith, perhaps he wasn't running out of steam after all. Perhaps, in fact, the writing style here mirrors the material; the great unknown exhaustion of a race that is about to become almost a cypher on a planet that swings its great ellipse of centurys-long seasons so that sometimes humanity is ascendent and sometimes clings to the bare edges of existence. Either way, if you've read the first two, you must read the third. If you love good science fiction, Helliconia will satisfy you, and if you enjoy epic scale stories, Aldiss, here, surpasses himself.

  • Sarah
    2019-01-12 18:59

    Out of all the books in this trilogy (I say that like there are more than 3. . . ) this one is my favorite. Granted – all of them were tedious at times to wade through, the names were nearly impossible to pronounce, and the whole Avernus space station thing got a little hairy there at the end. But still, I’m glad I forced myself to read this series in its entirety. I was especially pleased that – while this book followed its forerunners by telling many stories at once – we didn’t skip around through out hundreds of years. No, this book merely covers a decade of Helliconia time. The Earth went through about 8,000 years of history, most of it depressing, through this book. And it got kind of new age-ish at the end of Earth’s tale, which I absolutely detest in sci fi books. But Helliconia itself finally found a tiny little niche in my heart. Even though their situation ended dire-ly (is that a word?) and most of the characters in the final book were very very annoying. I still empathized with them. And if you’ve read/reading/will read this series – you’ll know just how important that is.

  • Ian Banks
    2019-01-19 21:23

    And it ends, still a few centuries before true Winter descends upon the world. This time the story is a little less epic, but still compelling, as the cycle comes a little closer to home. The Earth Observation Station is a ruin, as is Earth, and Helliconia itself seems to be descending slowly into hibernation. There's a lot here to depress you, as Helliconian society seems determined to do the work of the winter for it and wipe itself out. People behave badly and do stupid things in the name of things even more ridiculous than themselves. However, this story does contain the Great Wheel, one of the most magnificent Big Dumb Objects in all of spec fic, which makes the journey worthwhile. It also contains Hope, one of the best things in the world. This is a much shorter volume than the previous two but it feels no less immense or weaker for it. It ends with a cry against tyranny as society begins to shrink and huddle in on itself. Questions are answered, more are asked, and you begin to wonder if it (meaning everything, really) is really worth it at all. But the hint is that there is always something of value to inspire us and keep us going. Like this series.

  • Autumn
    2019-01-14 23:59

    This book is about an alien planet peopled by a few different species of varying sentience. It has a winter that is centuries long followed by a summer that is decades long. It is not as easy a read as my usual YA fare because the author writes using the thought processes of the main sentient species. I loved it for this reason. They are similar to humans. Their male/female dynamics are similar to many traditional Earth cultures. In this book, women and non-dominant-species characters get short shrift, but only because the main character has been socialized to see them that way. The dominant people view most of the other species as animals but it is clear to the reader that they are more than that. Even in their limited roles, neither women nor other species seem like plot devices or cardboard cut-outs. I have not read the first two books of this trilogy. This is a fascinating world and I'm sorry this is its conclusion- I hope the author changes his mind. The way he left things, it would be easy to write a saga.

  • Lawrence
    2018-12-27 19:01

  • Cecile
    2019-01-12 01:05

    This last book of the trilogy is probably a fitting ending to the whole story. It still has some of the flaws of the previous book, but the story is here more focused on less characters, except for (boring) diversions to life on Earth or the Avernus. If it had be too much better, it would have been frustrating to stop there. As it is, I was just glad to finish the series on a barely good enough book.For me, this trilogy was a long read, much too long! Too many repetitions, long descriptions, some uninteresting point of views. I was counting the pages till the end for each book, hoping the next would be an improvement. Some books, after a first read when you're young, are just better left alone.

  • Simon
    2019-01-10 00:20

    The last of the trilogy and, as with the previous volume we take a leap into the future with no continuing characters. The basic set-up remains the same but this time it's getting colder. The cold brings a harshness as the rulers believe that they must become as cruel and oppressive as the climate in order to survive.The occasional cuts to the Earth observation station and back to Earth itself finally start to make sense and are properly integrated into the story, but they're still uninvolving and, for me, unconvincing. It's not engrossing enough to work simply as an entertaining adventure story, and the ideas about human society are half-baked. I'm glad I finished it but I can't say I got too much out of it.

  • Miramira
    2019-01-06 00:12

    Helliconia Winter suffers an ailment common to later installments of millennia-spanning sci-fi series: plot and characterization take a backseat to extensive philosophical pontificating on What It All Means and Why We Are Here. This is particularly problematic in Helliconia, though: as the Helliconians' civilization falters under the onset of Winter and Earth drifts toward indolence, the answers to these questions appear to be "nothing" and "no special reason." Which, while a perfectly acceptable conclusion, does not justify pages and pages on the spirit of Gaia.

  • Janet
    2018-12-28 21:17

    Read this years ago. Recently rediscovered it when Googling for a remembered great stone wheel which featured in a book I'd read. I remembered finding the book quite a slog, but this time had no trouble reading it in a few days. Found it fascinating. The style is a little hard to get along with as the planet and its ecosystem are the main characters, which means that the stories of the book's human characters can end in the middle without warning. Wonderful landscapes and an epic tale, and a satisfying ending. The best of the trilogy imo.

  • Nicholas Whyte
    2018-12-31 20:18 Winter didn't work for me anything like as well as the first two. I found the plot meandering, the gender politics pretty unpleasant, and the Earth observation sections taken in unwelcome and not very interesting directions. I may be in a minority; it also won the BSFA award, though I must say I have not heard of three of its four opponents

  • Edward Davies
    2019-01-08 23:10

    If you can get passed the sheer volume of this trilogy you'll find a well thought through universe that Aldiss has clearly put a lot of thought into. Sadly for me this didn't really get going until Winter, by which time I'd already felt like the first two thirds of the series had been something of a waste.

  • Bob Kublawi
    2018-12-30 18:07

    A wonderful finish to the brilliant Helliconia series, the three novels of this trilogy are a wonderful blend of true science-fiction and engaging storytelling. Aldiss' three novels are, I believe, required reading for science fiction enthusiasts.

  • Kyrie
    2019-01-02 19:58

    It's the last in the triology and is darker, as the planet moves back to winter. Things on the space station that's orbitted the planet and observed it for hundreds of years are going seriously awry, too. It left me glad for the completion of the cycle and yet, sad.

  • Huw
    2019-01-06 20:57

    Abro Hakmo Astab!