I recently bought a signed edition of Brian Aldiss’s novel Finches of Mars, it is number 7 from a print run of 200. I had never read anything by Aldiss before, but I knew he was a respected science fiction author, so the opportunity to get an autographed book for my collection (for only $22.00) was taken up.
I’ve been reading it now for a couple of weeks. It’s only 203 pages but it’s very slow going, not really engaging my interest. Since I started reading it I’ve taken the time to complete a few other books that I’d been struggling with. Dealing with them seemed to have much more appeal than returning to the Aldiss book.
At best I would describe it as a book of interesting ideas, but it fails to address those ideas through equally interesting characters. At worst I see it as a small-minded, bigoted and ignorant diatribe against God and religion. The latter I see has merit – but the former is nothing less than arrogant foolishness.
But maybe I’m jumping the gun. Maybe the anti-God rhetoric will eventually be subverted and that foolishness will be exposed within the novel itself. Maybe Aldiss is setting the reader up for an unexpected turnaround where the reality of God is made clear. But in the mean time, I won’t believe that until I see it – and I’m also not holding my breath until I do.