The Most Important Books

The Secret People - 1935

The Day of the Triffids - 1951 

The Kraken Wakes - 1953

The Chrysalids - 1955

The Midwich Cuckoos - 1957

Trouble With Lichen - 1960

Web - 1979




The Seeds of Time - 1956

Consider Her Ways and Others - 1961 






The Most Important Books


The Secret People - 1935 (written by Wyndham under the name of John Beynon)
Although not a big success on its initial release, this first novel from Wyndham shows a clear indication of that great imagination that spawned his better known books.

Set in the future world of 1964, the world's greatest engineering project is underway - the flooding of the Sahara desert; but the planners had not taken into account the ancient tribe of people who live in the vast maze of caverns far below the sand. When Mark Sunnet and his girlfriend Margaret suffer an accident in his stratoplane, they not only fall foul of the fierce inhabitants of the labyrinth of caves, they also face the prospect of being drowned alive as the flooded desert's water seeps into that underground world.   Arriba

The Kraken Wakes - 1953
Imagine that an intelligent life form approaches this Earth but can only survive under the great pressure of the deepest oceans. Imagine their ability to create vehicles that can move on land. Imagine the fear of those who live at the water's edge, on islands, on the mainland near river mouths. Man can fight back, he can move inland, he can remove the threat by building stronger and bigger sea defences, he can fly instead of sail. But then imagine what would happen if the alien powers caused giant heating machines to operate under the polar caps.

For EBC journalist Mike Watson and his wife Phyllis, their imaginations are not needed. Witness to the arrival of these aliens, witness to their horrific acts of carnage when they crawl out of the sea in their all but indestructible craft, they are able to give an accurate first hand impression of what happens to the world when the polar caps melt and the world as we know it grows smaller and smaller as the waters rise. But, as the waters rise, so do the aliens!  Arriba

The Midwich Cuckoos - 1957 
The whole population of the inhabitants of the English Village of Midwich fall asleep on the 26 September and do not wake until the following day. Anyone trying to visit during this period collapses immediately they enter the village perimeter; all telephones cease to work; the Stouch village bobby is sent to investigate and does not return, nor does the Trayne police car and fire engine also despatched; and yet, with the army surrounding the village, defining the safe perimeter and worrying as to what they can do next, when the village reawakens, the survivors seem to feel no ill effects apart from feeling cold. There were fatalities; death from fire or exposure but, on the whole, the village has got away with what could have been a national disaster. But ..... are the reports of a strange aircraft landing within the confines of the village during their "dayout" true?

Midwich settles down, but soon the result of the "dayout" become apparent. Every female of child bearing age, from the young girl of just 15 to the spinster who runs the post office, falls pregnant. And the children that are born are different. And, within 9 years, the threat from the Midwich "cuckoos" is so severe that the future of the human race is in jeopardy.

(This story was made into a film, Village of the Damned) Arriba

Trouble With Lichen - 1960
Working in a biochemistry lab, Diana Brackley noticed that a small piece of the lichen that she had been working with had fallen into a bowl of milk left out for the cat. And, of course, the milk has gone off. All except for the part where the lichen fell. Diana is intrigued and decides to carry out further tests - and is amazed to discover that the lichen contains a property that suppresses the ageing process of the milk. After further experiments, she develops Antigerone which, when injected into humans, slows down metabolism and lengthens life - possibly up to 200% longer. But the supply of this particular lichen is limited - it only grows in one small area and there is not much of it.

She opens a fashion parlour - a beauty salon with extortionate prices, frequented only by the very wealthy. Her clients are amazed at how young they feel - and her clients are all powerful women; wives of cabinet ministers, company directors. But, one day, a tabloid newspaper starts investigating and, very soon, the whole world wants access to Antigerone.

Here, Wyndham takes a savage swipe at the world of fashion, a satirical masterpiece that examines the very core of female vanity.  Arriba

Web - 1979
A millionaire is unhappy with the way the world is heading and decides to create a Utopian society. He manages to persuade a group of others who are also dissatisfied or just generally unhappy with their lot, and they head to the South Pacific island of Tanakuatua. But this island has a history - the islanders were unjustly removed from their home and their medicine man declared it tabu; there were some nuclear tests carried out nearby. So was was it one or both that caused a new strain of spider to appear on the island? A whole colony, millions of spiders - who can think together - work together - plan together!!!!

Web, which was published posthumously in 1979, is one of those books that aren't known about until the author's death. Whether the copy I read was just badly proof read, it really does read as though it wasn't finished. Certain passages make no sense and there are several typographical errors. Unlike Wyndham's previous work, the story seems hurried and although it starts off well, it has the feel of having been finished for the sake of being finished. Had Wyndham lived longer, I wonder if the story would have been better crafted - I hope so.

Despite those quite harsh criticisms, Wyndham's clever style still peeps through. As with previous works he has elaborated on the theme of man's superiority over other animals being very delicate and how man would cope if the balance were tipped. It is difficult to "critique" a book where the author has no knowledge of its publication but perhaps this one should have stayed unpublished. Who knows? Arriba




The Seeds of Time - 1956  (A collection of nine stories)
  A girl travels back in time from the 21st Century to find her true love.
Time to Rest
An Earthman who has lived on Mars for many years tries to settle down with a Martian family
Aliens that plan to attack the Earth fail to take into account the size ratio between them and their human targets!    Arriba
  On a stricken spaceship, people are dying one by one as food supplies become scarce. And, one day, one crew member notices teeth marks in one of the corpses.
Pawley's Peepholes
Mr Pawley has had a great idea - now that time travel is possible, he can make money by taking sightseers to the 20th Century. But the inhabitants of that Century are not too keen on being stared at!
Opposite Number
What happens when people from parallel worlds meet.
Pillar to Post
A cripple is given a chance at a decent life when a being from another world experiments with mind swapping.
Dumb Martian
A Martian woman married to a bigoted and violent Earthman takes her revenge in a unique way.
Compassion Circuit
A couple find that their android is becoming a little too human.
Wild Flower
A young female school teacher despairs at the way the world is heading.


Consider Her Ways and Others - 1961   (A collection of six stories.)

Consider Her Ways
A woman wakes to find herself in another body, a grotesque and obese body in a world where she is expected to do nothing but bear children.



 Mr Vincell finds that being hit by a bus sends him forward in time by thirty years.


Oh, Where, Now, Is Peggy McRafferty?
Peggy finds that the school for actresses that she attends is not as it seems. 



Stitch in Time
On a visit to his girlfriend, a man finds that he has traversed time and is speaking to his future wife.


Random Quest
 A man falls in love but finds his love was a dream - or was it? He tries to find the girl of his dreams and is shocked to realise that she exists. Can he make her fall in love with him all over again?
(Filmed as 'Quest for Love' in 1971, starring Joan Collins and Tom Bell.)


A Long Spoon
Would you accept if you were offered a large sum of money for your soul?


Chocky - 1968

Matthew is 12 years old - and he talks to himself. His parents aren't that worried. He may be a little old to do that but surely it's just a phase he's going through? They wait for him to get over it. But he doesn't. His conversations with himself become more and more intense and when he starts doing things that he just couldn't do before, like counting in binary code mathematics, they realise that something is not quite right. They ask - and Matthew tells them about Chocky, the boy who lives in his head.


Other works







         Village Of The Damned - 1960
Taken from The Midwich Cuckoos and starring George Sanders and Barbara Shelley, this is a fair representation of the book. It was directed by Wolf Rilla and the screenplay was also written by him alongside Geoffrey Barclay and Stirling Silliphant. Filmed in black and white, the final images of the children trying to break down Sanders' mental "brick wall" have stayed in my mind since I first saw it as an impressionable 8 year old. 
         The Day Of The Triffids - 1962
Oh dear! How to ruin a splendid story! Where the written version is a dark and eerie vision of London in ruins, writer Philip Yordan takes the story all over Europe, depriving us of the claustrophobic atmosphere essential to maintain the story's suspense. Song and dance man Howard Keel ambles his way through the lead part - minus any love interest, again an intrinsic ingredient of the book - and there is a weak sub-plot which reveals that the Triffids can be destroyed by sea water.
         Children Of The Damned - 1964
Although not originally written by Wyndham, this sequel to Village Of The Damned attempted to draw the story further along its natural path. Six highly intelligent children from different parts of the world are found to be of the same species as those from the village of Midwich and UNESCO attempt to study them. The children eventually hide in a church where it seems as though their domination of the world will succeed. It starred Ian Hendry and Alan Badel, was directed by Anton M Leader and written by John Briley. Both this and Village Of The Damned were made by MGM.
         Quest For Love - 1971       
This was taken from the short story Random Quest which is a lovely story as short stories go but which does not transpose too well into a 90 minute film. Starring Tom Bell and Joan Collins it takes many liberties and has too many glossy focus shots of its glamorous starlet. It was directed by Ralph Thomas, produced by Peter Rogers and released by Rank ... the same trio that brought us Carry On Camping!!! Maybe that tells you something about the film's standards. Ah - it's not that bad really.  Arriba
         The Day Of The Triffids - 1981 (TV serialisation)

The BBC commissioned a 6 part serial which was shown during 1981. Simply put, it knocks spots off the film. It's exactly as it should be - chilling and claustrophobic. It has dated slightly, particularly costume-wise, but I can certainly understand those people who watched it first time round and say that the memory of it has stayed with them.

         Village Of The Damned - 1995    
I'm not normally a fan of remakes but this one really does take some beating. Directed by cult legend John Carpenter, the film takes place in an American seaside town rather than a quiet English village, but that doesn't detract too much from the story. Writer David Himelstein has added one or two neat twists to the original plot and the children themselves are played by talented youngsters to great and frightening effect. Christopher Reeve, Kirstie Alley and Linda Kozlowski take the main parts. Highly recommended.  

Although not a film, there were three TV series made about Chocky (called Chocky, Chocky's Challenge and Chocky's Children). I never got to see any of them, more's the pity!  Arriba


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