The Most Important 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
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
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
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, 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
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.
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.
- Stowaway To Mars and its sequel Sleepers Of Mars (which are both short story collections)
- Wanderers Of Time (another collection which contains, among others, the stories Exiles on Asperus and Child of Power).
- Jizzle (a collection featuring the title story, Technical Slip, A Present from Brunswick, Chinese Puzzle, Esmerelda, How Do I Do?, Una, Affair of the Heart, Confidence Trick, The Wheel, Look Natural Please!, Perforce to Dream, Reservation Deferred, Heaven Scent and More Spinned Against) Arriba
- The Infinite Moment (an Americanized version of Jizzle, except it contains one additional (and otherwise uncollected) story) ,
- The Man From Beyond and Other Stories (aka The Best of John Wyndham) (more short stories, including The Lost Machine, The Man from Beyond, Perfect Creature, The Trojan Beam, Vengeance by Proxy, Adaptation, Pawley's Peepholes, The Red Stuff, And the Walls Came Tumbling Down, Dumb Martian, Close Behind Him and The Emptiness of Space)
- Foul Play Suspected
- The Outward Urge (with Lucas Parkes)
- 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