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John Wyndham

(1903-1969)
John Wyndham Parkes Lucas Beynon Harris was a British novelist who wrote under the name John Wyndham, although he had at least seven other pen names. Wyndham began publishing stories in the early 1930s, often in American magazines, but did not really find his stride as a writer until he returned from serving for World War II. The War changed the world drastically, and it was now in the grips of nuclear apocalypse, a scenario that both terrified and fascinated Wyndam. While Wyndham’s approach to writing is best classified as fantasy and science fiction, his work is often said to transcend both genre and category. Both The Day of the Triffids and The Midwich Cuckoos (titled The Village of the Damned) were made into blockbuster movies.
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The Day of the Triffids: The Walking Vegetables

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The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham

Bill Masen wakes in a hospital with bandages over his eyes. Finally, he will be able to expose his eyes to light — if only a nurse or doctor would come to remove the bandages. Well, no one is left to help Bill because a gnarly comet has blinded every person that watched its lightshow. Bill removes his bandages, leaves the hospital, and learns that English civilization — perhaps human civilization — has collapsed due to mass blindness.

Without its ability to see, humanity loses its place atop the food pyramid. A new creature now dominates: the triffid. A triffid is a tall plant. It eats insects. It can use its stalk as a whip, which is deadly because it contains poison. Though a triffid can’t just eat a person, python style, its prehensile stalk can tear and consume the flesh from a rotting corpse. Worse, the triffids can walk. And... Read More

The Kraken Wakes: Baked Alaska

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The Kraken Wakes by John Wyndham

At this point, only the most obstinate of naysayers would ever deny the alarming evidence regarding global warming, the shrinking of the ozone layer, the melting of the polar ice caps, and the rising of the Earth’s ocean levels. Indeed, just recently, the European Space Agency’s CryoSat-2 satellite revealed that Greenland and Antarctica are, together, losing their millennia-old ice caps at the rate of some 500 cubic kilometers per year! But over 60 years ago, British sci-fi author John Wyndham presented to his readers an even scarier proposition than Man’s unwitting destruction of his environment, in his 1953 offering The Kraken Wakes (released in the U.S. under the title Out of the Deeps); namely, the deliberate destructio... Read More

The Chrysalids: Forbidden post-apocalyptic telepaths

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Reposting to include Sandy's new review.

The Chrysalids by John Wynhdam

It’s no wonder that David dreams of a distant and wondrous city at night: life in the post-apocalyptic settlement, Waknuk, is difficult. Waknuk’s people are descended from the survivors of the Tribulation, which everyone knows was sent by God to punish the Old People. Though David and his community are lucky to have any land to live on, they must always guard against Deviations — in their crops, in their livestock, and in their children.

Deviations are not made in God’s True Image. Children that, say, have six toes, have the Devil in them, so they are either destroyed or else sent to the Fringes after they are sterilized. Though these exiles may later return as raiders, life in Waknuk is — if not always peaceful — still much better than life in the Badlands.

David Str... Read More

The Midwich Cuckoos: The dangers of telepathic children

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The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham

Midwich was just another quiet English town until the Dayout — when an invisible dome surrounds Midwich for one day. Afterward, all of the women discover that they are pregnant. Since not all of them are married (or sexually active), it soon becomes clear that these women are being used to bring strange creatures to life on Earth.

When the children are born, it’s obvious that their genes do not come from this world. The children have golden eyes, silver hair, and pale skin. If that’s not proof enough, the children can telepathically communicate with each other (though only with members of the same sex). They can further telepathically create impulses in the minds of the townspeople. The children grow up alarmingly fast and their telepathic powers allow them to learn very quickly. It seems that one of their first lessons is self-preservation, and ... Read More

Trouble with Lichen: Complications of eternal youth

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Reposting to include Sandy's new review.

Trouble with Lichen by John Wyndham

Published in 1960, John Wyndham’s Trouble with Lichen tells the story of Diana Brackley, a revolutionary, a feminist, and a scientist.

Diana is considered odd because although she is attractive, she does not want to marry. Instead, she is dedicated to her career in the lab, and it is there that she makes her amazing discovery: a type of lichen that slows the aging process. Diana decides to use the lichen to empower women, and she sets up a beauty clinic that caters to rich and influential women (more ... Read More

Chocky: Wyndham goes out on a high note

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Chocky by John Wyndham

Following the publication of 1960’s Trouble With Lichen, fans of the hugely popular English sci-fi writer John Wyndham would have to wait a good solid eight years for his next novel to be released. During that time, the author limited himself to the shorter form, coming out with 10 stories. One of those short stories was “Chocky,” which initially appeared in the March ’63 issue of the legendary American magazine Amazing Stories, which had been started by author and editor Hugo Gernsback back in 1926. Wyndham later expanded “Chocky,” and the result was his final book to be published before his untimely passing. As had so many other of the author’s previous works, the no... Read More

Film Reviews: Village of the Damned (1960) & Children of the Damned (1964)

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I'm reviewing these films together because they're available in this handy double feature DVD. Village of the Damned is also available on Amazon Instant Video.

Village of the Damned
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These eyes...

A fairly faithful adaptation of John Wyndham's 1957 sci-fi thriller The Midwich Cuckoos (reviewed by Ryan), Read More