Trouble with Lichen: Classic Science Fiction Paperback – 18 August 2008
Ingenious ― Evening Standard
About the Author
John Wyndham Parkes Lucas Benyon Harris was born in 1903, the son of a barrister. He tried a number of careers including farming, law, commercial art and advertising, and started writing short stories, intended for sale, in 1925. From 1930 to 1939 he wrote short stories of various kinds under different names, almost exclusively for American publications, while also writing detective novels. During the war he was in the Civil Service and then the Army. In 1946 he went back to writing stories for publication in the USA and decided to try a modified form of science fiction, a form he called 'logical fantasy'. As John Wyndham he wrote The Day of the Triffids, The Kraken Wakes, The Chrysalids, The Midwich Cuckoos (filmed as Village of the Damned), The Seeds of Time, Trouble with Lichen, The Outward Urge, Consider Her Ways and Others, Web and Chocky. John Wyndham died in March 1969.
- Publisher : Penguin (General UK); 1st edition (18 August 2008)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 208 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0141032987
- ISBN-13 : 978-0141032986
- Dimensions : 1.27 x 12.95 x 19.69 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: 236,666 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
4.3 out of 5
218 global ratings
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Top review from Australia
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Reviewed in Australia on 1 December 2016
I re read this for the first time since the early 70's. Remembered that the main protagonist is a feminist who eschews the classic marriage and babies life. Strangely the power of women is still seen as their physical beauty rather and the prolonging of youth as empowering to them. I'm conflicted with that. John Wyndham does write great stories and his scenarios carefully considered.It stands the test of time reasonably well and I enjoyed revisiting a book I had first read when I was 13. I immensely enjoyed reading them way back then and I think I'm tempted to revisit a few more.
Top reviews from other countries
One for the charity shopReviewed in the United Kingdom on 14 May 2019
Other reviewers have expressed their disappointment with this book better than I can. The plot is full of holes, lacks any kind of credibility, and leaves so much unanswered - why the arson? Why the attack on Zephanie and her boyfriend? What did either of them achieve, and who on earth was responsible. It got to the point where I didn't care. There is a fundamental naivete here - the idea that if we lived longer, we'd be more experienced, and therefore better able to tackle the world's problems. Oh, and women would be able to emerge from domestic drudgery (see - they can't do it for themselves, can they?). Everything about this work is two-dimensional - the characters, the setting, the quick-fix at the end (so Diana was married, was she? Oh but she was so so in love with Francis). And so many loose ends left dangling - what happened to the perpetrators of those attacks; and so the opposition just melted away, did it; how come that, contrary to everything that went before about the impossibility of sourcing the lichen from anywhere else, she's able to grow it in the English countryside? And, even more disappointing, the basic premise raises so many intersesting issues, that are just skirted over - how would society deal with vast numbers of 150 year olds (stopping the "suicidal" birthdate - really??), the issue of work vs retirement (and not in the pathetically caricatured "we are the workers" scene), the collaboration between science and the beauty industry. None of that is tackled sensibly, if at all.
6 people found this helpful
RAReviewed in the United Kingdom on 31 March 2021
Well written with a strong theme. Women, even today, are up against a socially imposed 'biological clock'. I'm sure John Wyndham would agree that if women had had the same educational and professional opportunities as men for the past thousand years we'd probably have a world government, world peace, effective action on sustainable economics and climate change; maybe even colonies on Mars! Half of human brainpower has been sadly wasted for centuries due to women being subjugated to the less beneficial side of marriage and baby-making while mostly mediocre men have run the planet. The book was concept strong, but the narrative became unstable in the second half and fizzled out a bit. But still a good vintage read with a strong contemporary message written by not just a sci-fi writer, but a social visionary.
Amazed its not been made into a film yet.Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 24 April 2017
I love this book, and its my favourite of all the John Wyndhams, but strangely is not very well known. It raises a lot of great questions about the science and beauty industry. Plus of course the key question: what would you do to stay young? I dont want to give anything away, but this is a great, thought provoking book that has aged well, and if anything seems more relevant today. Its only a short leap of the imagination, so suits those who dont like implausible books. Well worth a read even if you dont normally enjoy science fixtion at all.
6 people found this helpful
Doesn't age wellReviewed in the United Kingdom on 18 March 2021
I've been a big John Wyndham since I was a child. This was a novel I'd wanted to read for a long time, and it was on special offer. I'm glad I didn't pay full price for it because it was a bit disappointing. Most of his other works are gripping, and involve protagonists in perilous life-or-death plots. This was more like a melodrama. It is visionary, and does ask some important philosophical and moral questions, but it just didn't grip or absorb me.
Well written and interesting plot line.Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 15 March 2021
John Wyndham is one of the “classic” sci-fi writers and I was interested in reading something by him, having buoyed film dramatisations of his classic Day of the Triffids. I was very impressed with both hid storytelling and readability and would have no hesitation in recommending this to readers of science fiction.