Thursday, December 12, 2019

Trouble with Lichen (John Wyndham)

This post will essentially be Spoiler Free, however comments by other users may possibly contain information that spoils portions of the plot, so read at them your own risk.

What it's about:

Diana Brackley is unusual. She doesn't think about marriage or babies, and wants to go to university. She asks uncomfortable questions and seems to be able to look right through you. Upon graduating from school, she decides to become a biochemist, and soon is hired at the prestigious Darr House, owned and operated by Francis Saxover. Upon working with different strains of lichen, Diana discovers something she never could have foreseen - a lichen species with a property that, if know, will change the course of human history forever.

Why it's worth a read:
  • This book heavily features morality and social decisions, and how one idea can greatly impact a society. If you love the sociology and psychology aspects in science fiction, then this Wyndham work is a must. 
  • Unlike Wyndham's other works, the main character is a female - a female scientist. That alone, as a fan of his work, is interesting enough to likely capture you. But otherwise, it's a situation where a female holds all of the power in the story. For 1960s science fiction written by a male author, that is pretty darn cool.
  • The main characters definitely have some interesting depth to them. You can tell there is a lot going on besides what is present at a surface level. There are dark and selfish motivations, secret loves, severe guilt, and intentional ignorance going on, and it really adds something extra to the novel. Although these elements do not play a large role, it feels like there is a larger world going on, and these characters feel more like believable people.
Where it disappoints:
  • This book is quite slow. There isn't really a lot that occurs, and what does occur is mostly different iterations of the same idea. It isn't purposeless, but it definitely isn't action-packed.
  • If you love Wyndham's other works such as The Day of the Triffids and The Chrysalids, this has a very different feel to it (it's more like Chocky). This is much more about inner struggle and society than it is about an in-depth plot.
  • It's harder to follow than some of his other works. It features two characters with similar names, a slightly confusing ending, and a few technical terms spattered here and there. It's overall not too difficult to understand, but there are a few things you might need to reread. (Definitely less confusing than Web though...)
Final Thoughts:
I find Wyndham's books hard to talk about. I read them very slowly, and probably seem like I don't enjoy them, but I honestly really do - they're just quiet. I feel like they are pretty understated, but completely brilliant. This wasn't in my top three Wyndham books (that would be Web, The Chrysalids, and The Midwich Cuckoos), but it definitely keeps him in the rankings as one of my favourite authors. If you're a fan of his work, I would definitely check this one out, but if you are going to be reading him for the first time, I would suggest picking up one of the others.

No comments:

Post a Comment