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Dearth of British Sci-Fi resolved!,
This review is from: The Death of Grass (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
I remember being scared witless by the supposedly children's tv series The Tripods back in the 80s. It was awfully dark and terrifying for 4pm on a weekday. But it was only when in conversation with a sales rep from Penguin that I managed to make the jump from that ill-begotten (but brilliantly entertaining) show to the genius that is John Christopher, its author.
Very much the product of 1950s British post-war science fiction, John Christopher's Death of Grass is less reactionary American counter-culture like Jack Finney, and more eco-minded post apocalypse, in the light of the devastation wrought by the Second World War. It mentions Rachel Cusk in the introduction, and in a sense, he has pre-epmted her seminal work by a few years.
Christopher's Britain is a nightmare. The grass blight has hit, and normally reserved Brits are bashing each others heads in to hold onto their own little piece of Eden. Much like Mary Shelley's Last Man, it has a dark and forboding prescience that makes it all the more readable (but far less long-winded than her effort) and as Jono says before me, the prose is utiitarian, which helps the development of our protagonist from caring family man to ruthless clan leader. This would be on most post-war literature undergraduate reading lists were it no for the twin facts that nominally it's sci-fi and has been out of print for so long. Along with Brain Aldiss, Christopher is one of my favourite British "sci-fi" authors.