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Brian Aldiss

Kirsty Young's castaway is writer Brian Aldiss.

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

Available now

45 minutes

Last on

Fri 2 Feb 2007 09:00

Music Played

  • Castaway's Favourite

    • Walter Brennan

      Old Rivers

      Artist: The Johnny Mann Singers

      • Old Rivers/Family Reunion.
      • United Artists.
  • 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.
  • Ella Fitzgerald

    Cow-Cow Boogie (with the Ink Spots)

    • The Best of Ella Fitzgerald Vol 11.
    • MCA records.
  • Alexander Borodin

    In the Steppes of Central Asia

    Orchestra: The Kirov Orchestra

    • Rimsky Korsakov: Sheherazade.
    • Philips.
  • 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.
  • Tom Lehrer

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

    • That was the Year that Was.
    • Reprise.
  • Gustav Holst

    Mars (The Bringer of War) From The Planets – Suite, op.32

    Orchestra: The London Philharmonic Orchestra Conductor: Sir Adrian Boult

    • Holst: the Planets.
    • PRT.
  • Book Choice

    • Biography of John Osborne - John Halpern

  • Luxury Choice

    • A banjo


Role Contributor
Presenter Kirsty Young
Interviewed Guest Brian Aldiss


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