A science-fiction novel by John Wyndham, claimed to be written in collaboration with Lucas Parkes - which just happens to be two of Wyndham's middle names. Hmm.

The Outward Urge is probably my favourite book of all time, or at least one of the Top Five. It chronicles five generations of the same family, all descended from George Michael Troon - "G.M.T. - hence, deviously, Ticker" - each of whom makes the next step outwards into space.

With a single quotation from Rupert Brooke, Wyndham illustrates the open-eyed wonderment experienced by some on beholding Science, and the stars within our grasp:

...for all the night
I heard their thin gnat-voices cry
Star to faint star across the sky.

The sirens of the poem call the Troon family onwards and outwards into the depths of the Solar System. I'm still torn over which is the more evocative, the above or "Space, the Final Frontier..." etc. Both grab me in a way which helps explain why my Windows system has always has the Starfield Simulation screensaver. Even on a laptop screen when it's invisible.

As for the rest of the book: it's certainly showing it's age - the first chapter is dated 1998 - and certain sections have seriously inaccurate 1950s ideas of what space is like. Venus is cloudy and wet, and has fish on it. Technical discrepancies aside, I love this book. It's gripping, thrilling and philosophical by turns, and always inspiring. Suffice to say that whenever I need to give a false name for anything I use the name Troon.

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