Hothouse (Chapters 5-9)

Our small band of adults begin to explore their new world on the Moon. In the process, they have a bit of a mishap, and meet up with another band of flymen. During the ensuing conversation, it becomes apparent that our band of newbies is a bit slow on the uptake with regard to their current condition. That is, they don’t realize that they’re now flymen, in spite of the physical evidence.

The band that they meet up with take directions from the “captives.” These are people who didn’t mutate into flymen quite properly, and so have various deformities. (The mutation from human to flyman apparently is driven by the cosmic rays on encounters between stops.) I guess the idea of having the captives in charge is that since these folks aren’t good for physical labor, they have a lot of time to think about things, and this makes them a good choice to run things. Anyway, the captives have an idea, and that is that the flymen on the Moon are going to retake Earth. I’m not exactly sure how that’s going to work, but that means that Lily-yo and the others are soon hitching a ride on the traversers going back the other way. (93 million miles)

Meanwhile, back on earth…

The children are left to fend for themselves. They have their own misadventure, which involves being accidentally transported by some giant flying plant. They ditch somewhere along the coast, and find themselves in the midst of a sort of plant war between ocean vegetation, land vegetation, and a thin strip of transitional vegetation that’s hanging on in between. The in-between stuff is sort of the last refuge of earlier types of vegetation. So it’s hear we find regular trees, and even some animals.

We also meet a colony of termights, who turn out to be more intelligent than one would expect from large insectoid creatures. They help Gren (the oldest boy) become reunited with the others after he (willingly) becomes separated. Gren is not in charge; the oldest girl, Toy is. But Gren is not very good at taking orders. He figures out how to get them out of a jam, however, and at this point seems to be on the verge of taking over the group, de facto. (This is kind of unheard of, since in this distant world, men are much scarcer than women, and so must be protected.)

A few years back, I read Aldiss’s Helliconia trilogy, and I recall one passage in which he describes the arrival of spring on Helliconia. It was a very vivid description, and you could almost feel the planet coming to life as you read it. That same kind of descriptive power is here also. Life in this book has an explosiveness to it. Everyone likes life. Aldiss is thoroughly infatuated with it. While there is some plot going on, this book so far has been largely an exposition of a world in which life, especially plant life, has gone absolutely wild.

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