The Ergot Show (1972) by Brian Aldiss

‘Whenever you talk, Meyer, I begin to think of a certain tone of green.’

‘Holofilms’, ‘transport units’, ergot, references to Mars, Shakespeare, and Coleridge, Brian Aldiss’s THE ERGOT SHOW is a bit of a wild ride. It reads like a 1960s art-house film script if written by someone under the influence of something strong. Is this what is often labelled New Wave science fiction? It does feel experimental and artistic. I’m not familiar with the movement so please feel free to correct me in the comments below.

Brief Summary

The story features two film directors, Pagolini and Rhodes. One is filming the other’s film being made. They attend a party and talk about the ‘holofilm’ industry. This is interspersed with descriptions of various locations and brief scenes featuring some background characters. The effects of consuming ergot fungi plays a small part in the narrative.

My Thoughts

This was a strange one, if I’m being honest. Difficult to work out what was going on, it was more about style and experimentation than story. Some of the scenes were quite funny and it was never dull. THE ERGOT SHOW is filled with writing like this:

‘There’s a logic in their illogic. Even their mode of expression is outmoded now, with sense-verity arriving. So my book is doubly outmoded.’

‘Antiseptic Asian lights here, further bleached by hidden fluorescents. They can never get enough light, the revenants.’

‘She is taking his hand and saying, ‘Ride with me in an ashtray-powered automobile and we will all the pleasures prove that stately mountain, hill, and grove…’

brian aldiss

Brian Aldiss

And that is about all I have to say about this story. I’ve read more enjoyable fare by Brian Aldiss in his 1970 collection The Moment of Eclipse, (review here). I recommend the stories: THE WORM THAT FLIES; HERESIES OF THE HUGE GOD; THE MOMENT OF ECLIPSE, and SUPER-TOYS LAST ALL SUMMER LONG.


Monday February 24th, 2020

seven of swords

Right then, it’s time to choose the next story for my Short Story Tarot Challenge. After shuffling the deck, I draw the Seven of Swords . Also called ‘Futility’, this card can represent trickery, cleverness, illusion and deceit.

The short story paired with this card is THE DOCTOR OF DEATH ISLAND (1978) by Gene Wolfe. It’s a longer short story clocking in at 44 pages. Great! It’s Gene Wolfe.

Thanks for reading!

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