This was my first short story collection by Aldiss I have read although I have read quite a few of his novels. It is a collection of his earliest published tales, all of which were first published in the mid 50's. They definitely have an early Aldiss feel to them. Often they feel rushed and lack the finesse that he would later aquire as a writer.
Thematically they are hugely varied with some very interesting ideas and concepts explored. Tales of alien beings, future wars, satires, dystopias, apocalypses, time and space travel are all to be found here. They are of a mixed quality but none of them are what I would call oustanding. If I went through and plucked out a few of the weaker ones, I could have bumped this up to four stars but one has to rate the collection as a whole, as is.
I'm not one for reviewing short stories individually but I will briefly mention my favourites. "Not for an Age"
seemed a bit like a cross between "Groundhod Day" and "The Truman Show". A man is experiencing the same day of his life over and over again but, although he is aware that it is repeating, he is powerless to change his actions and is also aware of being observed by people in the future who are watching for amusement. That is until one day something goes wrong and he escapes to the future..."Outside"
seemed like Aldiss had anticipated "Big Brother" (the TV show) as six individuals were trapped in a house, living monotonous lives and having their food and provisions provided for them each morning. None of them seems to question their lot nor wonder what is outside the house until one day "Harvey" starts to get curious..."Supercity"
was a satire about beaurocracy, how wasteful it can be and how people of a certain nature can exploit it to become rich and successful without really doing anything useful."T"
is a story about an alien races last ditch attempt to win a war it is fighting with earth by sending a weapon back in time with the intention of destroying all life on earth before humankind evolves.
I am definitely interested in reading one his later collections of stories which I would expect to be an improvement over this collection.