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Wyndham, John

(British, 1903–69)

Wyndham tried a variety of careers—farming, law, commercial art, advertising—while trying to make headway as a writer. He learnt his craft by contributing, under different names, pulp fiction to American magazines. His first novel, The Day of the Triffids (1951), had an immediate impact, and established him as the most skilful and imaginative English writer of science fiction since H. G. Wells. The triffids are seven-foot-tall intelligent plants with a deadly sting which go on the rampage against a population blinded by a freak meteor storm. This outlandish premiss is made terrifyingly plausible thanks to Wyndham's rounded, believable characters, his concern for moral implications, and a polished prose style. The Chrysalids (1955) is a prophetic tale of genetic mutation in animals and plants, and examines the fragility of civilized values when threatened by the strange and unknown. In The Midwich Cuckoos (1957), filmed as The Village of the Damned, the threat comes from the children of a quiet rural village who appear to be the progeny of a race of telepathic aliens. The Kraken Wakes (1953), about a mysterious force stirring in the ocean depths, is slower paced but still a good read. Wyndham also produced two collections of short stories, Consider Her Ways (1961) and The Seeds of Time (1969).

Philip K. Dick, Isaac Asimov, Brian Aldiss  TH

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionBooks & Authors: Award-Winning Fiction (Tr-Z)