Passing of Another Science Fiction Writer: John Christopher

We have lost another science fiction writer.

Christopher Samuel Youd died on February 3rd at the age of 89 from complications of bladder cancer. I, and many in the world, now him by one of his more famous pennames John Christopher. Other pennames were Stanley Winchester, Hilary Ford, William Godfrey, William Vine, Peter Graaf, Peter Nichols and Anthony Rye. Yet another prolific writer who used many pennames to not only categorize his offerings, but enabled him to write and sell up to 4 novels a year so he could support his family.

The set of work I’m most familiar with was the Tripod Series, consisting of a group of 4 young adult novels. Humanity has been conquered and enslaved by “the tripods”, unseen alien entities (later identified as “Masters”) who travel about in gigantic three-legged walking machines. Life goes on largely as it had in the pre-industrial era (with a few artifacts still existing, such as battery-less watches), as all of humanity is subject to mental controls which prevent anyone from challenging the established order.

Humans are controlled from the age of 14 by implants called “caps”, which suppress curiosity and creativity and leave the recipient placid and docile, incapable of dissent. The first book follows Will, a thirteen year old living in the small (fictional) English village of Wherton, is looking forward to the transition to adulthood which will take place on the next “Capping Day”, until a chance meeting with a mysterious Vagrant (the name for those who’s caps cause broken minds instead of mind-control) sends him on a quest to discover a world beyond the Tripods’ control. Accompanied by his cousin Henry, and a French teenager nicknamed “Beanpole”, they head out to find a place not under Tripod authority and the remaining human resistance.

Oh yeah, a lot of adventure ensues!

I read the original 3 novels as a teenager, “The White Mountains“, “The City of Gold and Lead“, and “The Pool of Fire“, but admit I have not read the 4th prequel (“When the Tripods Came“). The original 3? Wow, I loved them. It all started with a 6th grade teacher reading the first one to our class as a present for behaving and getting our projects done. Even the most hyper boys in the back of the class would do almost anything to keep the teacher reading.

The three books of the original Tripod series were yet another foundation in my lasting love of science fiction. Read them. They are still fun.


J.A. Marlow

Passing of Another Science Fiction Writer: John Christopher
A planet-wide conspiracy is waiting at Grandmother’s house…

“Always wear the red hood and cape while you are in the forest,” Grandma admonished.

For a teen with purple and red hair, and an attitude to match, the small claustrophobic city of Oburos grows ever smaller with Uncle Travis’s attempts to take over her and her mother’s life.

An invitation to visit Grandmother’s house, nestled among the giant trees filling the planet, gives Kate a welcome respite. But, there is no time for rest. A conspiracy among the forest inhabitants, moving trees, and other mysteries await her at Grandmother’s house.

Kate learns just how little she knew of the forests, much less its animals. To survive she must learn fast, and that includes trust and teamwork.

And just where was Grandma, anyway?

A Science Fiction 83600, 335 page (approximate) word stand-alone novel retelling of the fairy tale “Little Red Riding Hood”.

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Passing of Another Science Fiction Writer: John Christopher

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