Arab Today, arab today john christopher\s imaginative universe
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Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today

John Christopher\'s imaginative universe

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today John Christopher\'s imaginative universe

London - Arabstoday

Whether you knew John Christopher by his given name Samuel Youd, or any of the many pseudonyms he wrote under during his seven-decade-long writing career, his novels created impressive worlds of the imagination that have stayed with their many readers through out their lives. Readers of my 30-something generation are most likely to remember John Christopher for his young adult novels The Tripods and its adaptation for the small screen in the 1980s. The Tripods describes a future Britain where humanity has been enslaved to a race of alien invaders who travel in giant, three-legged walking machines. Fragments of The Tripods are lodged very deeply in my imagination, in particular the horrifying sense of immense and all-powerful authorities looming over life, beyond our control and understanding. More recently, Christopher's work has caught our attention again with the publication of the Penguin modern classic edition of The Death of Grass, an adult science fiction novel that nonetheless continued his interest in post-apocalyptic descriptions of Britain. The Death of Grass is a remarkably brutal and unforgiving book, qualities belied by the calm, distanced quality of its telling. Charting a journey across the country made in the wake of an apocalyptic virus outbreak, the novel places its characters in a series of moral quandaries where, when push comes to shove, they choose their own survival over any idea of moral duty to others. Christopher was one of a generation of British writers who exploited the mass popularity of science fiction as a way of holding the mirror of art up to a wide spectrum of British society. The Tripods owes a debt to the martian invaders of HG Wells's The War of the Worlds, and both stories in different ways comment on the authoritarian culture of British society. The influence of John Wyndham's "cosy catastrophe" novels such as The Day of the Triffids and The Chrysalids is clear in Christopher's very British depictions of apocalyptic settings and, like Wyndham, Christopher fills his stories with oblique character studies drawn from everyday life in Britain. And while they shared little stylistically, both John Christopher and his near contemporary JG Ballard shared a healthy cynicism about just how long Britain's polite society would last without the comforts afforded by wealth. With the sad news of John Christopher's death this week, it seems that the generation of British authors who created science fiction with such humour and subtlety and willingness to be critical of authority is being lost. I for one hope these are qualities that will return to the genre. They are needed now as much as ever.

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