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Brian Aldiss

Duration:
45 minutes
First broadcast:
Sunday 28 January 2007

Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the author Brian Aldiss. He is best known for pioneering, alongside JG Ballard, a new wave of British science fiction writing in the 1960s. He says science fiction is not so much a prediction of the future as a metaphor for the human condition; and for him, at least, writing it offered an escape route and a filter through which to view his own extraordinary upbringing. He grew up in a small Norfolk village in a very devout and austere home. While his father was distant, his mother was still suffering from the grief after her first child, a daughter, was still-born. He was the second child and even when he was very small, remembers feeling a strong sense of his mother's disappointment in him.

The army finally offered a way out for him and it was on his return to England that he started writing seriously while also working in a bookshop. One of his early works was a short story describing the sadness felt by a boy who was never able to please his parents, which was turned into a film by Stanley Kubrick. While he remains best known for his science fiction writing - and has won every major award in the field - he has also written novels, poetry and biographies and short stories. Now, he says, he aims not for high sales but to become a better and better writer.

[Taken from the original programme material for this archive edition of Desert Island Discs]

Favourite track: Old Rivers (with the Johnny Mann Singers) by Walter Brennan
Book: Biography of John Osborne by John Halpern
Luxury: A banjo

Music Played

8 items
  • Image for Walter Brennan

    Walter Brennan Old Rivers

    Artist: The Johnny Mann Singers

    Old Rivers/Family Reunion, United Artists

  • Image for Henryk Mikolaj Górecki

    Henryk Mikolaj Górecki Opening movement of Symphony of Sorrowful Songs

    Soloist: Susan Gritton Orchestra: The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Conductor: Yuri Simonov

    Gorecki: Symphony No 3, Tring International

  • Image for Ella Fitzgerald

    Ella Fitzgerald Cow-Cow Boogie (with the Ink Spots)

    The Best of Ella Fitzgerald Vol 11, MCA records

  • Image for Alexander Borodin

    Alexander Borodin In the Steppes of Central Asia

    Orchestra: The Kirov Orchestra

    Rimsky Korsakov: Sheherazade, Philips

  • Image for Jacques Offenbach

    Jacques Offenbach Quand j'étais roi de Béotie (from Orpheus in the Underworld)

    Orchestra: Sadlers Wells Theatre -1960

    Orpheus in the Underworld, EMI

  • The Choir and Tambouritza Ensemble of Radio Osijek Oj Lolo Moja or Oh My Darling

    Songs and Dances of Yugoslavia, Concert Hall Records

  • Image for Tom Lehrer

    Tom Lehrer So Long, Mom (A Song for World War III)

    That was the Year that Was, Reprise

  • Image for Gustav Holst

    Gustav Holst Saturn (from The Planets)

    Orchestra: The London Philharmonic Orchestra Conductor: Sir Adrian Boult

    Holst: the Planets, PRT

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