I’ve said over and over how great John
The Kraken Wakes:
The ostensible plot, of aliens trying to take over the world from deep under the sea, can be more or less put to one side, if not ignored in its entirety. Wyndham follows Wells in “
The plot lays the ground for that of “
The Midwich Cuckoos:
Most people know this story from the film “
The Trouble With Lichen:
Immortality is just around the corner, apparently, as the result of a rare lichen. This is one Wyndham’s books that doesn’t resort to aliens in order to get the plot off the ground. Based totally in believable (at least believable in 1960) science this novel addresses how mankind my cope if they were faced with the possibility of immortality, or at least a vastly extended lifespan. One of the first books, to my knowledge, that addresses what might happen if people really could live to 300 and the social upheaval that would ensue. Asimov does similar, at around the same time, with his Robot Series (Caves of Steel, The Naked Sun, Robots of Dawn etc, leading to the Foundation series) but sets it firmly in the fantastical future.
Some general points:
Love Wyndham. Always will, hence the five mug rating for all of them. Here are few random observations I’ve made on this latest read through.
There is a repeat plot device of the outsider-reporter to whom events don’t totally happen. They are invariably reports from after the events (looking back, hindsight), and attempts to assume the authority of historical narrative. A way of gaining our trust as an impartial observer, but at same time displaying the unique knowledge of the insider. Yes, as a device it is fairly obvious, but it works for him.
Women are, if not the main character (as in “The Trouble With Lichen“), then married to the main character, and shape what happens. Very much a partnership. In Kraken, it is the wife who realises that they may need to quit London in a hurry and lays in supplies. In Cuckoos, it is the wife who manages to keep the village calm. The women don’t seek the fame, and frequently outsiders assume that it is the men who have done the work, but the men themselves don’t claim any of the glory, and make it quite clear to the people that matter that it was the women who did good.
The theme of the military as good, there to help. Undoubtedly a relic of WW2. Quite a marked difference to the sinister and evil overtones that the military is painted with in most modern literature.
As an aside, there is also at least one Holmes reference in each book. More a little nod to
Amazing that on page 187 of Cuckoos, Wyndham in 1957 basically summarizes the plot of