John Wyndham David Williams - Essay

David Williams

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Science Fiction isn't generally my beaker of tea. I've always made an exception though for the work of the late John Wyndham. He's outstanding in the genre—out Bradburying even Bradbury who runs him close. Why? Chiefly because he sticks closer than most to planet Earth. Not for him those galactic encounters with thoughtful, sinister strangers possessing a good command of B-picture American English and a less good though willing acceptance of standard story-line requirements. Wyndham sticks instead to earthy aberrations, and this makes him the most plausible as well as by a long way the creepiest of writers in this line….

[In Web,] published now for the first time, he addresses himself to spiders. An expedition returns to a South Pacific island, long left abandoned, so it is erroneously believed, because of a close-at-hand trial nuclear explosion. The party encounters a stupendous multiplication of spiders who have learnt to tangle their webs to dire effect, and to understand the truth of the proposition: United we stand to win. The author keeps you hooked, and, as it were, enmeshed.

David Williams, "Cricket Anyone," in Punch (© 1980 by Punch Publications Ltd.; all rights reserved; may not be reprinted without permission), Vol. 279, July 16, 1980, p. 115.∗