John Wyndham Sam Moskowitz - Essay

Sam Moskowitz

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[The] ideas for The Day of the Triffids and the many works that followed were adapted from many sources, since [John Wyndham] was a regular reader of science fiction and thoroughly familiar with its various gambits. His rhetoric, on the other hand, appears to have been persuasively influenced by only one major writer, H. G. Wells. Great ingenuity at approaching an old idea from a fresh slant was characteristically his own contribution. (pp. 128-29)

[Wyndham] had written a dozen or more stories with a time travel theme. It seemed to be his private form of fun and relaxation, and the best of these stories, such as Pawley's Peepholes …, where prying intangible tourist buses from the future are sent scuttling back where they belong by the use of vulgarity, appeared to have nothing else in mind but light entertainment.

Not so with the time travel story, Consider Her Ways…. Through the use of drugs, a woman doctor of our time turns up in the future as an obese "mother" in a world without men, where selected females produce children like the queen bees. The high point of the story is the dialogue on whether the world is better off with or without men, which introduces a highly original and disturbing point of view (at least, to a man) on the subject.

Because of the international success of Day of the Triffids, the feeling was prevalent that [Wyndham] had made his mark with that novel and everything that followed was to be anticlimactic. In fact, it was felt that whatever opening of doors there was to be in the future could only be done by using the phrase, "by the author of…."

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(The entire section is 685 words.)