Samuel Youd (John Christopher) 1922-2012
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A decent obituary in the Guardian by Christopher Priest - John Christopher.
I'm ashamed to say I was unaware of how much he had written. I do have fond memories of No Blade of Grass (including Pierre the gunshop owner) and The Long Winter.
I'll have to pull some of the ones of his I haven't read off the shelf and give them a read.
Has anyone read the science fiction he wrote under names other than John Christopher?
I don't know if that was SF. He seemed to write in a variety of genres. The ones under a female pseudonym look like historical romances.
His Tripods series contributed strongly to my interest in science fiction
Aw, geez, how could I have forgotten the name? The Tripods series was also some of my first sf. I read it serialized as a comic strip in Boy's Life, then later the novels. Great stuff! Fare thee well, Mr. Youd.
The Tripod books were my first SF. My first chapter books were C.S. Lewis, the Narnia books, followed by the Tripod books. Got them both from my Dad, he is multi-denominational. He turned me on to the Matt Helm books not too much later. I feel like I am revealing my first girlfriends. Never thought about it, but it explains a lot about what I read today.
I love John Christopher's story Socrates (Galaxy 1951, and in the anthology Beyond Human Ken).
I have fond memories of reading the Tripods trilogy in elementary school. It was pretty scary stuff at the time.
Last year I read The death of grass aka No blade of grass
published in the US as
In 2009 and 2010, Penguin Books has expanded and revamped the Penguin Modern Classics series, adding a number of great works of fiction which were about to be forgotten. I usually shun detective, and much sci-fi, but bought these on the authority of the series, considering that,inclusion in this Penguin series must indicate merit. On the other hand, foreign language books are still scarce in China, so as these Penguins appeared on the shelve in one bookstore (only), I bought a large number of them, across various genres and categories of authors I have never read.
Death of grass merits to remain in broad circulation for at least two reasons. In the first place, as it was published in 1956, it was one of the books that inspired environmentalists. The book poignantly demonstrates the importance of the environment, by drawing attention to the effects of total destruction of the environment if only one order of plants would be wiped out, namely grasses. Even in our day, the devastation that would be created by killing off any type of grass, is hard to imagine, and the author is able to impress the reader today by apocalyptic landscapes of bare and muddy hills an downs in rural England, where all grass has disappeared.
Secondly, some science fiction has the potential to turn into an ugly reality. According to the introduction to this edition by Robert Macfarlane, the type of virus described in the book as causing this massive die-off of grasses already exists in the natural world, and it is spreading. While it sounds a little bit like another eboli-horror originating from deep in Africa, apparently hardly spreading, the fact that it is spreading, plus the fact that I had never heard of it before, may give you an excellent reason to pick up and read this book.
Meanwhile, the story is a good read, certainly as good as John Wyndham. Naturally, all these novels read with a feeling of being somewhat dated. In another twenty years, they will be included in Penguin Classics, along with H. W. Wells. I must say, I quite like writings from this period, all the more, if you read a few of them, such as The black cloud (1957) by Fred Hoyle or After the rain (1958) by John Bowen my review
I remember seeing the Tripods series on BBC TV in the early eighties although they did not show the last two episodes and i had forgotten who had written the books until i joined LT and The Green Dragon and did a bit of digging so that i could track the books down. I enjoyed his stories and it is a sad loss to the Sci-fi world.
The Tripods was dropped after the second series - with the story left unresolved - because not only had it not done as well with viewing figures as the BBC had hoped, but also the actress playing the female lead in the second series was killed in a road traffic accident and they did not feel able to re-cast it.
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