01/09/2008. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts
pub: Penguin. 202 page paperback. Price: £ 7.99 (UK), $16.00 (CAN). ISBN: 978-141-03298-6.
check out website: www.penguin.com
'The Trouble With Lichen' is one of five of John Wyndham's book being re-issued by Penguin in September this year. I didn't read this book until a few years ago and then discovered the title was a misnomer. There's nothing wrong with lichen. It's the property of a rare breed that retards ageing.
Frances Saxover wants to keep the lichen secret rather than let a wealthy elite use it. Diana Brackley is more of a woman's lib person and wants to overturn the male status quo. Well, this book was written in 1960 just as such changes were beginning to shake the world. Whether Wyndham was going all-out to be allegorical will be up to you to decide.
Wyndham was very clever in that he could take an ordinary world, introduce a significant change and then play it out to test the circumstances of the change which is really SF at its best. Bearing in mind Wyndham's other successful books, this one tends to be over-looked. Don't! It's a fun read and will make you think about the consequences and the impossibilities of granting everyone long life.
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Stephen Hunt's novels - USA