Tuesday, February 7, 2012

R.I.P Samuel Youd (AKA John Christopher, Author, 1922-2012)


For a generation of adults, the BBC's adaptation of John Christopher's book 'The Tripods' was chilling TV entertainment. Yet very few will know that Samuel Youd (John Christopher's real name) penned a massive library of science fiction books for adults and children under a series of pseudonyms. 

The Tripods Trilogy is probably his most widely recognised work, but it was another JC book - "The Guardians" that first brought him to my attention. It's been covered elsewhere in the blog (as one of the books I can't wait for Charlotte to read) but it's worth mentioning it again, a book that feels as original and fresh now as it did when it was written back in 1970. 

It's the mark of a great science fiction book when you read through and hear the references to Christopher's dystopian future vision, and see something there that's uncomfortably recognisable. The division between city folk and country folk may have been rather graphically interpreted, and the harsh, heavily enforced class system rather chillingly represented - but it's a fantastic thrilling read, and one that deserves greater recognition. 

It won the (aptly titled) Guardian Award in 1971 and was also made into a German TV series. 

Christopher's legacy lives on. A new movie adaptation of The Tripods is still in production, and other works have been filmed (for instance "The Death of Grass" was filmed as the disturbing sci fi movie "No Blade of Grass" by Cornel Wilde). 

R.I.P Samuel Youd. You were a fantastic inspiration.

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