News | 2011 | I Found Chocky

Chocky by John Wyndham

Last August, I put up a post after I'd found and reread four of John Wyndham's novels (Rediscovering Wyndham). At the end of that post I sort of hinted I was looking for copies of the other books published under Wyndham's name (I remember his writing fondly and would love to reread his stories). Just before Christmas, I came across Plan for Chaos and I got excited--I'd found a Wyndham novel I'd never heard of before. But then I read the back cover. Here was a book never published in Wyndham's lifetime, billed as "an amazing new discovery: ... [a] previously unpublished companion novel to the sci-fi classic The Day of the Triffids." Disappointed, I put it back on the shelf.

As a reader, I recognized the excitement I was having over discovering new material from an old favourite. However, as a writer, I realized the book was probably crap--just a way to make money from Wyndham's name. If Wyndham hadn't published the book, there more than likely was a reason for it. I'm guessing (of course I don't really know--Wyndham and I never met) that reason was he either wasn't finished with the manuscript or else he thought it was sub-par (or else, all the publishers he approached thought it sub-par). In any case, as a general rule, I try not to read posthumously-published work the author wasn't ready to release. Instead of a last glimpse into a familiar world, I find it's usually a disappointing and disillusioning experience, one that puts a taste in my mouth I can never get rid of.

The Integral Trees by Larry Niven

To end this post on a positive note, I'm happy to report I found Chocky yesterday (one of the Wyndham novels I have read before). I was in a community centre, waiting for my son's hockey game to begin, when I decided to explore the used-books-for-sale shelf--they weren't dropping the puck for another forty-five minutes so I figured I had the time. And I'm really glad I did. On this shelf were heaps of books I recognized: Larry Niven's The Integral Trees; most of Anne McCaffrey's Pern novels; a healthy selection from David Eddings' The Belgariad and The Malloreon; some Greg Bear; a few Stephen R. Donaldsons; a couple Arthur C. Clarkes; and two thirds of Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea trilogy. It looked like someone had gone back in time, stolen my teenage bookshelf, and brought it back for me to find. And to top it all off, I found Chocky--one of the Wyndham books I've been looking for.

So, to the person who donated these books to the community centre--I thank you. I'm really looking forward to reading your books.

Back to 2011 News [...]