News | 2010 | Rediscovering Wyndham

Back in the late 1990s, my wife and I moved from Canada to New Zealand--we'd fallen in love with the country on our honeymoon (when we backpacked through the South Pacific) and wanted to return. We found work, made arrangements, said our good-byes, and packed our bags. We brought the kids, we brought our clothes, we even brought our photo albums and other assorted family treasures. But some things we couldn't take with us--we'd only reserved two cubic metres of shipping space, so everything we did take had to pass some very rigorous do-I-really-need-this crap-and-will-I-use-it-again tests (the kids got seats with us, so they passed automatically). Since then, I've realized there are a few things I'd wished we'd hung on to, and most of those are books (we only took one bookshelf's worth with us).

Last week, I was in a book store with a pocket-hole-burning gift card when I came across four of the books I'd given up so long ago: The Midwich Cuckoos, The Chrysalids, The Kraken Wakes, and The Day of the Triffids, all by John Wyndham. My heart leapt, I grabbed all four, and promised them a good and permanent home (and my wife let me buy them).

The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham The Chrysalids by John Wyndham The Kraken Wakes by John Wyndham The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham

I was so happy to have found them for another reason as well. Back when I read Wyndham for the first time, I had trouble collecting all eight of the works published under the Wyndham name (the author's real name was John Wyndham Parkes Lucas Benyon Harris, and he wrote a bunch of other stuff, too). There was even one clerk who explained to me at length that Wyndham was no longer in vogue (her words, not mine). Well, I'm glad that the books are making a comeback, because I got to read four of the eight again last week, and really enjoyed them. While I found some structural holes as well as a few other annoying devices Wyndham used (which I attribute to being a product of his time -- like the heavy exposition dumps), on the whole I still like Wyndham's writing and am very glad to have been reacquainted with his work. Now for the hard bit, finding the rest of Wyndham's books (because, I think I want to now). Anyone seen The Seeds of Time, Trouble with Lichen, The Outward Urge, or Chocky by any chance?

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