Fiction: living with triffids, cuckoo clocks and other disasters

In a 1960 television interview – a rare public appearance by this most confidential writer – John Wyndham shared a lesson from his many years of writing science fiction: “Your English reader doesn’t care about the idea of spaceships, I don’t know why… Your American reader loves spaceships What is striking is not only the startling truth of the statement – for some reason UFO sightings have always been much more prevalent in United States than in England – but his thoughtfulness, his courteous consideration. Wyndham was England’s most popular science fiction writer since H. G. Wells. His novels, filled with monsters and Armageddons, testify to his imagination overflowing and its foreboding sense of global catastrophe. Yet it is also tactfully written home affairs that demonstrates an understanding of regional etiquette. Without reading Wyndham, one cannot tell. You wouldn’t guess it was possible to write a tasteful, civilized apocalypse novel.

Many of these books now enjoy uniform modern library paperback editions, with a superb cover by Anders Nilsen. “The Day of the Triffids” is Wyndham’s 1951 breakthrough about a walking carnivorous plant and celestial event that causes widespread blindness. “The Kraken Wakes”, from 1953, is about an invasion of aliens who hide at the bottom of the ocean before melting the polar ice caps. In 1957’s “The Midwich Cuckoos”, the women of a small English village are mysteriously impregnated by aliens and forced, by their offspring’s powers of mind control, to raise and care for the resulting offspring. . (In July, the Modern Library will also release 1960’s “Trouble With Lichen,” and the 1936 space opera “Stowaway to Mars,” from the little-known early period of Wyndham’s career, when he wrote under the pen name. by John Beynon. .)

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