Just after downloading the next of the Palliser novels on audio recently, I got a marketing email from Audible telling me to try something different. I am pretty sure it was a random marketing ploy, and not a comment on all the Trollope I have been listening to. I didn’t open the email to see what they thought different should be, but I did go to Audible and for some reason John Wyndham and his menacing tale The Day of the Triffids popped into my head. I have no idea why. I only had the faintest notion of who he was and what he had written. After checking the audio samples to make sure the narrator wouldn’t bug me, downloaded Triffids and was immediately taken. I enjoyed it so much I quickly moved on to The Chrysalids and then to Chocky and loved all of them.
Now, before you get all dismissive and say you don’t do science fiction, I remind you that I am no fan of science fiction myself. But Wyndham’s work has several things going for it. Most importantly, Wyndham is a great story teller who keeps you on the edge of your seat. I also like that in the three I have read so far his settings are familiar enough, especially in Triffids and Chocky, that you don’t need to stretch at all to think it could be true. In fact, his post-war Britain perspective is right up my alley. It wouldn’t be hard to imagine Miss Buncle or one of Nevil Shute’s characters walking through a scene. And, although his prose is much better, Wyndham is like Shute in the fact that ordinary (kind of) people are called upon to do extraordinary things. Wyndham also gives much food for thought and for the most part his work stays just shy of any kind of preaching.
You might find this radio documentary on Wyndham as fascinating as I did. I love his edgy, subversive, point of view.