the finest British science-fiction
author, whose works are (some of them, anyway) on a par with those of Asimov
and Arthur C. Clarke
John Wyndham Parkes Lucas Benyon Harris was born in Edgbaston, Birmingham in 1903, the son of a barrister. He started writing short stories intended for sale in 1925, writing for the American market (spit) between 1930 and 1939. After the war he returned to writing, deciding to try a modified form of science fiction, a form he called 'logical fantasy'.
His books include The Day of the Triffids, The Kraken Wakes, The Chrysalids, The Midwich Cuckoos, Trouble with Lichen, The Outward Urge, Chocky and Web, and the anthology The Seeds of Time.
What makes him great is the quintessential Britishness of his novels. All are set in Middle England - London being used on occasion when a city is required - in perfect rural 1950s harmony of a type not seen since The Darling Buds of May. The Midwich Cuckoos, for instance, is set in the fictional village of Midwich and you can see the azaleas climbing up the cottage walls. An age of post-war optimism, where Nuclear Power Is Your Friend, the BBC Home Service broadcasts on bakelite radio sets, and women wear hats. I love it. It's the kind of period I wish I lived in... and they still had science fiction then.
John Wyndham died in March 1969. They don't make 'em like they used to.