seeing the future

I wrote an introduction to the Heyne edition of The Day of the Triffids, which begins roughly– “1949: John Wyndham Parkes Lucas Beynon Harris decided he would like to write something more relevant to his time. In turning away from the American pulp market, simplifying his name to John Wyndham, & selecting as his subject matter the disruption of a recognisable near future, he redeemed not just himself but the medium of science fiction. The novel of catastrophe surfs the anxieties of the day, viewing them as a disaster that has already happened; the self-reinvented Wyndham, fresh from his chrysalis, found himself in an age rich with new anxieties. Huge changes were afoot in the aftermath of a war which had shown the English that their most valued possessions–a firm social structure, a quiet life, dependable lines of communication & supply–could be eroded in six months, to be replaced by uncertainty, blackout & shortage. Power had been taken out of the hands of the pre-War middle classes (a process both mourned and celebrated in the quintessentially English films of Powell & Pressburger) & placed in the hands of a bureaucratic infrastructure. After the war, it wasn’t given back. During the austerity winters of the postwar years, overshadowed by science they didn’t understand, no longer comforted by religion or imperial certainty, the English huddled in their underheated houses & began to wonder what the future would be like. The genius of John Wyndham was to offer them a way to think about their situation.”

On the re-read pile: nice crisp Vintage editions of The End of the Affair, The Quiet American & Stamboul Train. On repeat: Slow Club, “You, Earth or Ash”. Seen out of the window: eight or nine redwing. Is this possible in Barnes ?

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Filed under books & reviews, predicting the present, science fiction

2 responses to “seeing the future

  1. Four of my favourite creators in one post – bingo!

  2. Chris

    Love ‘Stamboul Train.