The Saliva Tree
And Other Strange Growths
Brian W. Aldiss
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Invisible aliens invade the bucolic English countryside in Brian W. Aldiss’s Nebula Award–winning science fiction novella, plus nine other stories of the fantastic and the odd
A meteor shower in the skies above the rolling English countryside late in the nineteenth century fires the imagination of a young man with a penchant for science—especially when one of the falling rocks breaks off from the rest and lands at the bottom of a pond near the Benford farm. While the young man’s curiosity has been seriously aroused, Farmer Benford and his clan couldn’t be less interested—not even when there’s a sudden, curious rash of animal births, they notice odd, lingering, pervasive smells, and the family dog dies inexplicably. Still, the young man is not willing to abandon his investigation into these strange occurrences, even as it becomes increasingly apparent that to keep looking could prove injurious—and perhaps even fatal—not only to himself but to every Benford in the vicinity.
Grand Master Brian W. Aldiss wrote his wonderfully strange and gripping novella “The Saliva Tree,” as a tribute to H. G. Wells, the immortal author of The Time Machine and War of the Worlds, and it was honored with a Nebula Award. Included alongside this classic tale of creeping alien terror are nine other sparkling gems of short fiction—from the grisly baby steps of a novice serial killer, to the travels of a history professor through alternate worlds, to the journey of a young widow who has both a murderer and a monster vying for her attention.
“Aldiss is a master of the form.” —The Guardian
“The Saliva Tree is an exuberant extended homage to [H .G.] Wells and the scientific romance tradition. . . . Aldiss wants to use fiction as a vehicle for talking about grand, abstract ideas, but he also wants to tell the stories of individuals.” —LocusOnline
“[A] great novelette . . . I have been reading Aldiss’s work with intense delight for something over forty-five years.” —Paul Di Filippo
Brian W. Aldiss was born in Norfolk, England, in 1925. Over a long and distinguished writing career, he published award‑winning science fiction (two Hugo Awards, a Nebula Award, and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award); bestselling popular fiction, including the three‑volume Horatio Stubbs saga and the four‑volume the Squire Quartet; experimental fiction such as Report on Probability A and Barefoot in the Head; and many other iconic and pioneering works, including the Helliconia Trilogy. He edited many successful anthologies and published groundbreaking nonfiction, including a magisterial history of science fiction (Billion Year Spree, later revised and expanded as Trillion Year Spree). Among his many short stories, perhaps the most famous was “Super‑Toys Last All Summer Long,” which was adapted for film by Stanley Kubrick and produced and directed after Kubrick’s death by Steven Spielberg as A.I. Artificial Intelligence. Brian W. Aldiss passed away in 2017 at the age of 92.