Bookshelf spotlight: John Wyndham

Unsurprisingly, yet again for Sci-Fi Saturday I’m sharing books that I have been collecting, but not yet read. I have every intention to read them, and would like to read most of these this year – unless something comes along that seduces me away from my plans. Which, is a high probability.

I’ve been collecting John Wyndham books for a while. They’re classics and just sound interesting. It doesn’t hurt that they are quite short (all on this list are less than 250 pages), so should be easy to fit in between all the other books that I want to read this year. While I haven’t read any of these, I have seen adaptations for two: The Day of the Triffids and The Midwich Cuckoos. I enjoyed both and am hoping I like the books even more.

Since I haven’t read these, I’ll be doing my usual sharing of the book blurb for each below, from the editions I have.

The Chrysalids

The Chrysalids by John Wyndham

‘Watch thou for the mutant!’

It is many years since God sent the Tribulation to punish the forebears to their sins, and the rural settlement of Waknuk David Strorm’s father decries any and all blasphemies against nature. Little does he realise that David and his cousin Rosalind, have their own secret aberration which would label them as mutants. But as they grow older it becomes more difficult t conceal their differences from the village elders. Soon they face a choice: wait for eventual discovery, or flee to the terrifying and mutable Badlands.

The Day of the Triffids

The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham

‘When a day that you happen to know is Wednesday starts of by sounding like Sunday, there is something seriously wrong somewhere.’

When a freak cosmic event renders most of the Earth’s population blind, Bill Masen – one of the lucky few to keep his sight – finds himself trapped in a London jammed with sightless mobs who prey on those who can still see. But another menace stalks blind and sighted alike. With nobody to stop them the Triffids – walking carnivorous plants with lethal stingers – rise up as humanity stumbles and falls.

The Midwich Cuckoos

The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham

In the sleepy English village of Midwich, a mysterious silver object appears and all the inhabitants fall unconscious. A day later the object is gone and everyone wakens unharmed – except that all the women in the village are discovered to be pregnant.

The resultant children of Midwich do not belong to their parents: all are blond, all are golden-eyed. They grow up too fast and their minds exhibit frightening abilities that give them control over others. This brings them into conflict with the villagers just as a chilling realization dawns on the world outside.

Plan for Chaos

Plan for Chaos by John Wyndham

In a city much like New York, a series of identical women are found dead in suspicious circumstances. Magazine photographer Johnny Farthing, who is reporting on the suspected murders, is chilled to discover that his fiancee looks identical to the victims too – and then she disappears. As his investigations spiral beyond his control, he finds himself at the heart of a sinister plot that uses cloning to revive the Nazi vision of a world-powerful master race.

An interesting piece of information also given on the back of my copy, is that John Wyndham wrote this at the same time as The Day of the Triffids, but after the success of The Day of the Triffids overshadowed it, the manuscript was abandoned. And remained unpublished for forty years after his death.

The Kraken Wakes

The Kraken Wakes by John Wyndham

It started with fireballs raining down from the sky and crashing into the oceans’ deeps. Then ships began sinking mysteriously and later ‘sea tanks’ emerged from the deeps to claim people.

For journalists Mike and Phyllis Watson, what at first appears to be a curiosity becomes a global calamity. Helpless, they watch as humanity struggles to survive now that water – one of the compounds upon which life depends – is turned against us. Finally, sea levels begin their inexorable rise and the world looks set to drown.

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