Sunday, 17 January 2016

John Wyndham

Since my teens if at any point you were to ask me what my favourite book was you'd have got the same answer as you'll get now, John Wyndham's 'The Day of the Triffids'.  For the young me it was a glorious apocalyptic romp with killer plants.  For the older me it's a populist exploration of the fears of an uncontrollable arms race, the excesses of cold war science, gender roles and the difficulties of sustainable survival in a ravaged world that also happens to be a glorious apocalyptic romp with killer plants.

The TV adaptations of 'The Day of the Triffids' and 'Chocky' alongside the Howard Keel travesty and the magnificence of the 'Village of the Damned' movie meant that Wyndham had a huge part in defining my tastes long before I ever got around to reading another of his books.  Indeed it was at least a decade before I read another of his books, 'The Chrysalids', simply I think because I loved 'The Day of the Triffids' so much I didn't want any possible disappointment stemming from another of his books to spoil it for me and yes I know that's a fairly stupid reason to not read a book especially one as good as 'The Chrysalids' turned out to be.

Presented below is a BBC documentary about the man and his work featuring contributions from fans, friends and contemporaries such as Brian Aldiss and Sam Youd (John Christopher).  A very private man who rarely gave interviews and refused to participate in a biography there is little to tease out about his everyday existence but the documentary still makes for interesting viewing about an author who in the pantheon of British science fiction must be placed alongside his erstwhile predecessor, H.G. Wells, as one of the defining voices of the genre although outside of more dedicated circles I suspect he will remain for the most part that bloke who wrote the book about the walking plants.

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