Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Loving John Wyndham


My favorite science fiction novels—The Day of the Triffids and The Chrysalids—were written by John Wyndham (1903–1969). I'm not big on this genre, but Wyndham made reading these classic SF novels so enjoyable.

So it's a good thing when these classic works are again made available commercially in beautiful editions. You gotta hand it to Penguin for coming up with very artsy covers for Wyndham's under-appreciated novels.


The illustrations on the cover look very edgy, don't they? There's a certain flawed-in-the-right-places aspect to them. The illustrator, Brian Cronin, also did the illustrations for the Penguin Deluxe Editions of the novels of Graham Greene, also another favorite novelist of mine.


I just finished reading Chocky (my thoughts on the next post), and again I wasn't disappointed. It's hard to imagine that Wyndham wrote most of his novels in the 1950s; these novels still manage to disturb and come off as ingenious up to the last page.

12 comments:

Kaz said...

Awesome! I have nearly all the Wyndhams - hes a very old favourite of mine. Most of mine are very battered old Penguin paperbacks...noting like your lovely, pristine new ones!!

Are the short story anthologies available in these new editions? I have Consider Her Ways, but I've not been able to get hold of a copy of The Seeds of Time - although I did read them a long time ago.

My most favourite of all of them is The Chrysalids. We studied it early in high school and my copy dates from then. I like Chocky - it's one of the subtlest of them all in many ways. I look forward to your comments.

Kaz

Peter S. said...

Hi, Kaz! I'm sure that your old Penguins are now collector's items! Yes, I do think that Chocky was a very subtle SF novel, but I think that it worked beautifully.

I'm not sure if the short stories are in these new editions though.

C.B. James said...

Have you read John Christopher's Death of Grass (No Blade of Grass in the U.S.)? I recently read it and may end up listing it as a top ten favorite for this year.

He wrote his SF at about the same time Wyndham did. He's darker, but just as good.

Peter S. said...

Hi, C. B. James! No, I'm not at all familiar with John Christopher. But I'll be on the lookout! Thanks!

Jack said...

Ah, Wyndham! He is one of the many modern masters I have neglected to explore (I freely confess to having the reading tastes of a 12-year old boarding school boy), but the movie version of Day of the Triffids scared the b'Jesus out of me in 1961. They didn't pay any lip service to his social commentary, just went for the subtle, creepy fright; boy, did they nail it!

Kaz said...

John Christopher is great - it's his kid's SF I know better though, not familiar with that title at all. He wrote the Tripod Trilogy (prob the best known of his kid's stuff), The Sword of the Spirits Trilogy, Jabberwocky and one other that I have, but I can't think. He went back way later and wrote a prequel to The Tripods. Thee ones I have mostly in old Puffin editions!

Peter S. said...

Hello, Jack! I'm sure you'll love Wyndham!

Hey, Kaz! I so envy your collection of vintage Penguin and Puffin books!

Mrs. B. said...

I think I've read 2 John Wyndham novels which I really enjoyed. Please try The Possessors by John Christopher. Similar stuff as Wyndham and written in the same era but The Possessors is one of the scariest sci-fi books I've read.

Peter S. said...

Hello, Mrs. B! All right, I'll definitely try to read that novel by John Christopher. I hope I can find it in local bookstores.

Visual Velocity said...

Are these Wyndham Penguin editions available locally here in Manila?

Peter S. said...

Hello, Visual Velocity! Unfortunately, these editions aren't available in Manila.

The SYLE Press said...

For fans of John Christopher's writing, "The White Voyage" is now republished, and available on free on Kindle this weekend!
http://johnchristopher.org/the-white-voyage/