I took a punt on this having been introduced to Wyndham by "Chocky
" and enjoyed it immensely. There's something very enjoyable for me about "retro" or "classic" SF, even if it has been somewhat undermined by the passage of time. "...Lichen" begins as a sort of campus novel about real scientists doing science, told in a sparse and gently satirical tone reminiscent of Kingsley Amis and escalates into a peculiarly British take on social revolution.
What makes this book fascinating is also sadly what relegates it to the ranks of "period piece"; Wyndham presents a likeable heroine, a sensible, empowered woman of letters, and rightly prophesies a quasi-feminist revolution based on her scientific discovery. However, the discovery is the wrong one: Unlike R. A. Heinlein in his landmark novel "Stranger in a Strange Land
", Wyndham does not foresee sexual revolution arising from reliable contraceptives, but longevity treatments. Nevertheless, this is a charming novel that presents interesting arguments with humour without testing a reader's suspension of disbelief as often Wyndham's American peers.
There are plenty of landmark SF titles that focus predominantly on the subject of super-longevity - Heinlein's "Methuselah's Children
", Robert Silverberg's creepy "The Book Of Skulls (S.F. Masterworks)
" and the notorious "Bug Jack Barron
" - but I consider this the best treatment of the subject, primarily for its measured, academicky approach and making the implications of the science the centre of the plot. So, give it a go if you're a fan of those books, an SF nut or a Wyndham completist.
...Oh yes, I nearly forgot: I've always said "Like-un" and thought that scone should rhyme with gone.