The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Brian Aldiss’ first science-fiction novel tells about a primitive tribe that unknowingly inhabits the corridors of a vast spaceship traveling among the stars. Members of the tribe venture into unknown sections of the ship and discover that it has already reached its destination and that they have been watched secretly by the Outsiders, a maintenance crew from Earth. The book was first published in Great Britain and underwent some textual changes before being published in the United States under the title Starship in 1959.

Roy Complain is a hunter for the seminomadic Greene tribe that lives in a place called the Quarters. The tribe constantly moves through corridors by pushing barricades in order to gain new land. Its members find artifacts, presumably left behind by the mysterious race of Giants that built their world. There are legends about the Forwards, a distant region of their world, where a more civilized tribe lives. One day, Complain, the priest Marapper, and three other tribe members set out on an expedition to the mythical Forwards section. Marapper, who believes that the world is in fact a ship traveling through space, owns a book containing a map of the ship. He plans to reach the Control Room and take over the ship.

After various adventures, Complain is captured by the Giants and taken to their secret headquarters. They release him, and he is reunited with his comrades. Soon afterward, the group is captured by the...

(The entire section is 474 words.)