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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant as always - but this one is slightly different...
Excellent, as always, John Wyndham takes a 'what if' scenario and follows it through, just to see what 'would' happen.
While still a gripping novel, this is not along the same lines as, for instance, 'Triffids'. The pace is more laid back, less intense, yet still keeps you glued to the pages from start to finish. I think that this is because Wyndham does not...
Published on 14 Dec 1998

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Living longer in the past
Trouble with Lichen - John Wyndham

This story from the foresighted Mr Wyndham about longevity is not his best work and the pace is a bit slow. Interestingly however, its title inspired author Julien Glazer to pen the matching title 'The Trouble with Cephae' which is almost as good as 'The Triffids' and I have no hesitation in recommending both.
Published on 5 May 2006 by Ben Science


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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant as always - but this one is slightly different..., 14 Dec 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Trouble with Lichen (Paperback)
Excellent, as always, John Wyndham takes a 'what if' scenario and follows it through, just to see what 'would' happen.
While still a gripping novel, this is not along the same lines as, for instance, 'Triffids'. The pace is more laid back, less intense, yet still keeps you glued to the pages from start to finish. I think that this is because Wyndham does not allow the potential horror to emerge in quite the same way as in some of his other books, rather he pats it back and forth, building tension and excitement - and reaches the climax which is... not quite what you expect.
Brilliant. Read it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Do you say "Litch-en" or "Like-un"?, 23 Mar 2010
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.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Undiscovered little gem, 15 Feb 2007
By 
John Hopper (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Trouble with Lichen (Paperback)
Not one of Wyndham's better known works, but this is a little gem, with some interesting things to say about scientific discoveries, their popularisation in the media and people's desire for medical "miracles" that turn out to have a darker side. The antagonism between the men and women's positions on the "miracle" seems simplistic and unconvincing at least in modern terms, but probably acceptable to an original reader at the end of the 1950s. Well worth reading.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Read, 13 Feb 2007
By 
DB (London, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Trouble with Lichen (Paperback)
After reading the Day Of The Triffids (also John Wyndham) this was almost definitely going to be a mild come down, but it did its best at the very least. Again working on the same theme of world disaster, this time Trouble With Lichen is set with a predicted future disaster, whereas Day Of The Triffids, is well and truely stuck in the disaster.

Following two main stories, Francis Saxover and his family (Daughter Zephanie and Son Paul) and Diana Brackley, who runs Nefertiti which claims to be able to 'make you look younger' this is on the whole good, but for me there are three subplots which never go anywhere whatsoever, however there is almost a last minute reference to the possible outcome of one of the subplots which also could explain why the third subplot was needed. Its a shame these don't go anywhere, because a bit more substance to the book is really what it needs!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not all advances are great at first..., 4 Jan 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Trouble with Lichen (Paperback)
Is there a cure to aging? Francis Saxover seems to think so and so does Diana Brackley. When a tiny piece of lichen, which is being studied in a lab, is accidentally discovered surrounded by fresh milk in a saucer of sour milk, researcher and scientist Francis Saxover takes the sample and nothing more is heard. Diana Brackley does her own investigations and makes a major discovery - but is the world ready for it?
I've become a big fan of John Wyndham and as much as I enjoy his work, there's something that I can't put my finger on which almost stopped me carrying on with the book after about 50 pages (there are 204). Good thing I didn't as the story did start to warm up after then and the ending did justify the beginning 'slowness'.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Satire for the twentieth century (and the twenty first)..., 7 Feb 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Trouble with Lichen (Paperback)
In all his books John Wyndham unleashed a satirical humour that was keen to poke fun at all those who, from fixed intellectual positions, would defend the indefensible. He had an accurate aim for the low tastes and high pieties of the tabloid press, and an inventive turn of speculation about which mess our ingenuity would get us into next. On the one hand, that invention could vent itself in high drama like Day Of The Triffids: here it is subtly concealed and revealed in a sequence of events that speak undoubtedly of an era, but which could just as easily fit the way we live today. And underneath it all there is an endless speculation. What if it were to happen, or what if it were already happening and we didn't know ? As usual, the ending is in keeping with the authors humanity and optimism about the future, and with our own hope that we might do the right thing, but Wyndham's greatest knack of all is his ability to do so without being preachy or didactic. If you haven't encountered him before, you ought to now.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Living longer in the past, 5 May 2006
This review is from: Trouble with Lichen (Paperback)
Trouble with Lichen - John Wyndham

This story from the foresighted Mr Wyndham about longevity is not his best work and the pace is a bit slow. Interestingly however, its title inspired author Julien Glazer to pen the matching title 'The Trouble with Cephae' which is almost as good as 'The Triffids' and I have no hesitation in recommending both.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Still recommended., 8 Dec 2014
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My father was a John Wyndham fan, and I started reading his novels when I was about 10 years old. I am now revisiting them, and find them quite refreshing for books that were written in the 50's. Wyndham had quite an enlightened attitude towards the female characters in his books, and 'Trouble with Lichen' is no exception. The plot is fairly straightforward, and although filed under the genre of science fiction, it is not fantasy. As ever, Wyndham places the social dilemmas humankind faces when confronted with new science at the core of his writing. However, it must be said that this, one of his later efforts, does suffer from a peculiarly stilted style and rather awkward grammar & syntax at times. Still recommended.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Late, quaint and mannered, 4 Jan 2006
This review is from: Trouble with Lichen (Paperback)
This late novel from Wyndham says far more about British Society in the late Nineteen Fifties than it does about its central premise – longevity. As is common for Wyndham, the characters are for the most part very polite Middle Class English people who speak with erudite lucidity and who inhabit a world which seems both alien and quaint from our current perspective.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, this book is hardly ever mentioned in connection with Wyndham’s previous work, the three classic novels (‘The Day of The Triffids’, ‘The Midwich Cuckoos’ and ‘The Chrysalids’) which turned him into a cult writer for generations of readers, and which crossed readership boundaries in that they were read and enjoyed by many readers who would not otherwise have been seen dead reading SF literature.
The basic premise surrounds the discovery of a lichen, found only in Manchuria, whose singular property retards the normal metabolic process, and thus can extend the expected lifespan to upwards of two hundred years.
When the two main characters (Diana Brackley and Francis Saxover), independently discover the properties of the lichen, their results are suppressed once they have considered the consequences to the world. Diana leaves her employment with Saxover, having kept from him her knowledge of the discovery of the lichen’s properties. She subsequently sets up a Beauty Salon under the name Nefertiti, where she injects her clients with extract of the lichen and so holds back the march of time for several hundred women.
Ten years on, various factors combine to leak the secret into the public domain and Wyndham examines the various reactions to the news from the point of view of the media, the Church and the government, as well as examining, albeit briefly, the consequences of lifespans covering centuries rather than decades.
Sadly, the novel is an anticlimax from the writer who gave us such rich food for thought in his earlier work. On the one hand it attempts to create in-depth characters who live too briefly on the page for us to appreciate them. There is Lady Tewley for instance, who came to Nefertiti as a naïve young woman, newly married into the aristocracy, and who has been subsequently transformed into a formidable member of her new class.
On the other hand this is contrasted with the effect on society, not of Antigerone itself – as the extract is called – but of the news of its existence. The novel reads like a first draft. It takes far too long to get round to examining the consequences of such a discovery and when the news is finally out one feels that Wyndham does not dig deep enough into what is obviously a rich field of possibility.
What is interesting about ‘Trouble With Lichen’ is that Wyndham sees longevity as a tool of emancipation, something which will free women from spending most of their life bringing up the next generation, and it is to his credit that he has peopled this book with assertive intelligent women, such as Diana herself and the formidable Lady Tewley. There is discussion within the novel of humanity evolving into a new longer-lived species, but one can’t help feeling that there is a subtext – particularly at this point in time – of a new species of women emerging, evolving and adapting to the changing times.
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4.0 out of 5 stars eternal youth, 1 Jun 2009
By 
A. Craig "Amanda Craig" (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
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Few novelists tackle the problem that all cosmetic companies seek as their holy grail - eternal youth. Wyndham, one of our greatest SF writers, did in this book, imagining how it might be discovered much as Flemig discovered penicillen - by accident.
As always, there is a romantic sub-plot, but it has a bitter tang. Though not one of his very best, it's easily as readable, elegant and intriguing as 'Chocky', and good for interesting teenaged girls in SF.
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