The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

After Earth ceases to rotate, plant life—much of it mobile and carnivorous—flourishes on the sunny side. Humans have devolved and live in small tribes amid gigantic forest branches. Hothouse follows the adventures of Gren and others as they cross land and sea from the fecund tropics to the barren twilight region.

When Lily-yo, the leader of young Grens matriarchal tribe, comes to believe that she is past her prime, she makes the traditional choice to “Go Up,” along with the other elders. On the topmost leaves of the jungle, mammoth spiderlike plants spin webs between Earth and the Moon. Attached to such “traversers,” the elders are carried like pollen spores off to an “afterlife” that is in fact on the Moon, which now has an atmosphere and transplanted life-forms. The humans, exposed to radiation, develop leathery wings and become flymen who go back to Earth to bring younger humans to the “True World.”

Tribal youths have trouble developing the discipline and wisdom for survival. The rebellious Gren is banished and is joined by Poyly, who loves him. An intelligent fungus called a morel falls on Grens head, merges its brain with his, and decides that it can use humans to conquer the planet for its own kind. Gren remains at the mercy of the clinging morel, which can torture him and make him threaten others.

Joined by Yattmur, a young woman from another tribe, Gren and Poyly escape the Siren-like Black...

(The entire section is 450 words.)