Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,
Nicholas
nwhyte

My Father’s Things, by Wendy Aldiss

Third photograph in the book:
(The next picture in the book is of the walking stick he was holding in my 2014 picture below.)

Brian Aldiss died in 2017, during the night after his 92nd birthday. He was of course a hugely important figure for science fiction in general and for me in particular; the high point of my 2014 Worldcon was simply spotting him sitting in the main concourse and grabbing the chance for a quick conversation with this man whose writing I have admired since I was a teenager. His walking stick is the subject of the fourth photograph in the book. The Worldcon closing ceremony was the day he turned 89, and the multitude sang "Happy Birthday" to him.

His daughter Wendy found that one of the ways she could deal with her grief at his loss was to photograph everything in his possession at the time of his death, and that's what this lovely book is. There is an introduction by Christopher Priest, and a short essay by Margaret Gibson, but otherwise the photographs speak for themselves, of a full life. There are many books, many copies of his own, sent by publishers and never given away; flattering and not so flattering reviews (a lovely Guardian piece where sf authors are asked to name their own favourite writers, and he is named by more than anyone else); family photographs going back to his childhood, with a concentration around the 1960s and 1970s where his second wife, Margaret, invariably glows (she predeceased him by 20 years).

It's also a book about the end of that full life. The empty chair, above, is very eloquent in its stillness. Towards the end, Wendy Aldiss shows us her father's schedule for the week he died, written out neatly in his own hand; of course, he did not make it as far as Saturday morning. Dealing with death is something we all have to do from time to time, and I'm very glad that Wendy has shared this process with the rest of us. You can get it here.

The book was funded by a Kickstarter which I was very happy to contribute to. Unfortunately it arrived only after full Brexit hit at the start of this year, and I was slapped with an extra €27 in charges. If you voted Brexit, you owe me that €27.
Tags: bookblog 2021, writer: brian aldiss
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