Brian Aldiss Turns 90

He might be known as one of the most famous living science-fiction writers, but Brian Aldiss, who turned 90 last month, has written or edited over 100 books in his lifetime.

One of them is THE HAND-REARED BOY, the first British novel to explore, frankly and with gleeful honesty, the sexual awakening of a teenage boy.

Hand-Reared Boy cover

In fact, it was regarded so outrageous that thirteen publishers initially refused to publish it.

“I was introduced to the delights of masturbation early, and had never looked back since then. You might say I was a hand-reared boy. Perhaps I should have been ashamed of all that; I was not.”

No longer shocking, instead, it stands as the classic novel of teenage self-discovery and the realisation of a young boy of love, and the fact that other people are more than sexual objects. It’s the first British novel to unashamedly explore the subject of sexual awakening of a teenage boy, predating even Philip Roth in its study of teen masturbation. Shortlisted for the Lost Booker Prize in 2010, THE HAND REARED BOY is as witty and forthright about sexuality today as it was when it was published forty years ago.

Brian Aldiss has been a bestselling writer since the 1950’s, and is best known for his science fiction. He has won every major science fiction award (as well as influencing the work of Stanley Kubrick), including three Hugo Awards (1962, 1973, 1987) and two British Science Fiction Association Awards (1972 and 1982).


“A tender love story. In the amorous mishaps of Horatio Stubbs, the inability of teenagers to distinguish between love and sex with painful fidelity.”
‘Daily Telegraph’

“Its honesty strikes one as refreshing. Its story of an adolescent suburban lad, his brother and school friends, horny and sex crazy, is a graphic portrait of the sexual trials of teenagers in the 30s.
‘Gay Times’

“A heart-wrenching love story… The first British novel to explore sexuality in such a frank and honest way.”

“So filthy, I read it with the door of my office closed, as if afraid of being caught.”
Rachel Cooke, ‘Observer’

“Forty years before The Inbetweeners gave teenage boys a mirror in which to watch themselves on television, Brian Aldiss wrote this novel about childhood and adolescent sexuality… A sustained paean to male masturbation. It would be easy to express some sort of outrage at the relentless tugging, the lines crossed, the taboos broken, but the book is characterised above all by a welcome honesty… A touching tale.”

“Brian W. Aldiss is best known for his science fiction novels but this work… (is) wall to wall masturbation. It concerns Horatio Stubbs, a boy just reaching puberty, and his sexual awakenings. It was the first English novel to explore such a scenario in such frank detail.”
‘The Crack’

“One of the first literary novels to explore the realities of teenage sexuality. It is explicit, still quite shocking but also very funny.
‘Me and My Big Mouth blog’

THE HAND-REARED BOY by Brian Aldiss (ISBN: 9780285635166, £9.99)

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