Hothouse (Chapters 16-19)

Not as much to report here. Gren (with Morel), Yattmur, and four of the “tummy-bellies” (the creatures that were umbillically attached to the large pineapple thingie until Gren cut them off) are traveling and having various adventures.

Two things about that previous sentence:

1) I’m tired of reading the term “tummy-belly” to describe the annoying fat creatures that are accompanying our “heroes.” Unfortunately, I’m stuck with it.

2) Spell-check doesn’t flag the word “thingie.” Apparently this is now a real word. Progress? You decide.

Anyway, they started off on the raft that belonged to the tummy-belly tribe. They rode this down to the sea, drifted quite a distance and eventually crashed onto an iceberg, then rode the iceberg to an island.

“Iceberg?” you say. Yeah, they’ve drifted far from the part of earth that is directly under the sun. Of course, due to the tide-locked orbit, this could be towards the poles, or east or west or some point in between. So the sun is low in the sky and life is colder. Anyway, they end up on an island that’s actually not too bad. They can find food and the plant life isn’t very dangerous. Gren and Yattmur could probably be quite happy here, but Morel wants to leave of course.

To return to an earlier point, Morel is a fungal species that is supposed to be the root of human intelligence. And he’s a complete asshole! He is basically intent on conquest and domination. He has no interest in what anyone else wants, and when he doesn’t get his way by persuasion or command, he gets it by coercion. (He’s able to inflict pain on Gren.) He’s arrogant and insulting, and he remains arrogant in spite of the fact that almost every idea he has doesn’t work out the way he expects it to. No matter how often he’s wrong about things, his belief in his intellectual genius remains unshaken. If this is not Aldiss’s statement about the human race, then he’s a very clumsy writer.

But, back to the plot. At the end of chapter 19, Morel devises a way to get off the island (in spite of the fact that nobody else wants to leave) by hitchhiking on some sort of migratory plant. One of the tummy-bellies dies in the process (Morel doesn’t care, of course). And the plant ends up taking them in the wrong direction. Memo to Morel: Don’t you get tired of being right all the time?

This marks the end of Part 2. Don’t forget, there’s still the invasion of earth by flymen from the moon that we have to get back to at some point. And hopefully Toy and the other members of Gren’s former tribe are still alive somewhere. There’s about a third of the book left. Let’s see if this all gets tied up somehow.

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