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The Outward Urge Hardcover – 1 Jan 1961

4.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Hardcover, 1 Jan 1961
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: The Science Fiction Book Club; Book Club (BCE/BOMC) edition (1961)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0000EEYKO
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,953,815 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Science Fiction Book Club (# 50 in series); contains a chapter not found in earlier editions. Chapters 1 - 4 previously published by Michael Joseph Ltd.; chapter 5 previously published in 100th edition of New Worlds Science Fiction, 1960.


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Format: Paperback
The outward urge tells the story of the Troon family through several generations and their desire to go into space, against a backdrop of a changing world and society. This is really several short stories which retain an overall chronological narrative and continuity with each subsequent Troon heir.

Wyndam writes in very readable prose, and this book has some very intriguing ideas to it. I am sure Wyndam didnt envisage the world or technology turning out the way he has envisioned it, or progressing quite as quickly. However he manages to make each jump through time seem perfectly plausible, and humanity's progression through the universe and changing politics is effortless and believable.

In true Wyndam style this is an interesting read, with plenty of sound science and clever turns. As a novel it comes up short, but as a collection of linked stories this is a fairly short, enjoyable read. I would recommend this to anyone who has enjoyed Wyndams other work.
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Format: Paperback
John Wyndham offers up a different view of the early exploration of space from the, very much seen through the eyes of the Troon family, whose members all seem driven by "an outward urge" to always be on the move. The theme here is Troon family trait, which results in several members playing key roles in the development and exploration of the Solar System. While it is a given that the, perceived future history may be a bit dated - especially concerning the description of Venus. However, the stories themselves stand up well, especially the political-economic commanding backgrounds behind the exploits of the Troons.

For me this John Wyndham narrative is more like a series of vignettes, which focuses on one moment in time or gives a trenchant impression about a character, idea, or setting – as Mankind reaches for the stars. While this is a lesser known Wyndham speculative fiction title, none the less it’s a very good title.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
These five stories were written in the 1950s, and cover the conquest of space through the eyes of a single family, British-Officer-Class in origin, named Troon, which manages to be always at the leading edge of it.

The first story covers the building of the space station, and the intrusion of Cold War politics on a timeline where the Soviet Union didn't fall. The second is on the Moon when the Cold War has turned hot.

The third portrays the first, Brazilian, Mars expedition (fortunately, the destruction of the northern hemisphere in WW3 hasn't slowed down the conquest of space by more than a hiccup), while the fourth covers Brazil's effort to keep space as a monopoly, and the resistance which this generates.

The fifth story is (for me at least) unintentionally humorous. Without giving away too much, it focuses on one particular Troon, who has developed a psychological problem which disqualifies him from being given command of a spaceship. Unfortunately, this means he is effectively barred from space (a fate worse than death for one of his family background) because "you can't ship a Troon as crew". Evidently, for one of this eminent race to go up as anything less than skipper is as unthinkable as putting Prince Charles into the Royal Navy as an Ordinary Seaman. Space has been conquered, the northern hemisphere blasted into radioactive desert, yet the British class system - or at least this space age variant of it - has come through without a scratch. Wyndham was very much a man of his time, and this is mentioned in a throwaway line without any explanation being thought necessary. It is just assumed that the (British) readership would understand.

Still, don't let that put you off. They are nice, unpretentious stories and make a good read. Enjoy.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
The format of this book is very original, as we are following descendants of the same family with the same urge but at different times. The different stories are very well written and very original.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars 7 reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Space Race 19 Jan. 2014
By BKC - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
The book dates from 1959, but in some respects, Wyndham was a visionary, particularly concerning the building of geostationary space stations. Amusingly however he remains stuck in his time, for example when his heroes light their cigarettes, here he failed to see the evolution on Earth! A good read, providing you are indulgent about certain details.
4.0 out of 5 stars "There Once Was A Family Named Troon, Determined To Go To The Moon" 20 Aug. 2014
By M. W. Stone - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
These five stories were written in the 1950s, and cover the conquest of space through the eyes of a single family, British-Officer-Class in origin, named Troon, which manages to be always at the leading edge of it.

The first story covers the building of the space station, and the intrusion of Cold War politics on a timeline where the Soviet Union didn't fall. The second is on the Moon when the Cold War has turned hot.

The third portrays the first, Brazilian, Mars expedition (fortunately, the destruction of the northern hemisphere in WW3 hasn't slowed down the conquest of space by more than a hiccup), while the fourth covers Brazil's effort to keep space as a monopoly, and the resistance which this generates. .

The fifth story is (for me at least) unintentionally humorous. Without giving away too much, it focuses on one particular Troon, who has developed a psychological problem which disqualifies him from being given command of a spaceship. Unfortunately, this means he is effectively barred from space (a fate worse than death for one of his family background) because "you can't ship a Troon as crew". Evidently, for one of this eminent race to go up as anything less than skipper is as unthinkable as putting Prince Charles into the Royal Navy as an Ordinary Seaman. Space has been conquered, the northern hemisphere blasted into radioactive desert, yet the British class system - or at least this space age variant of it - has come through without a scratch. Wyndham was very much a man of his time, and this is mentioned in a throwaway line without any explanation being thought necessary. It was just assumed that the (British) readership would understand

Still, don't let that put you off. They are nice, unpretentious stories and make a good read. Enjoy.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Alternate History of Space 10 April 2013
By Paul Camp - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
What a curiosity this is! While frequently multiple authors adopt single author pseudonyms, here we have a single author, John Beynon Harris, publishing a work as by "John Wyndham and Lucas Parkes"-- two of his pseudonyms. There has been speculation that the author was not altogether confident in this work to place it solely under the Wyndham byline. But nobody seems to know for sure why Harris used the collaborative byline. _The Outward Urge_ (1959, 1961) is certainly not the classic to match _Day of the Triffids_ (1952), _Out of the Deeps_ (1953), _Re-Birth_ (1955), and _The Midwich Cuckoos_ (1957). But it is hardly a contemptible piece of writing.

The publishing history of the stories in _The Outward Urge_ is a bit complicated and perhaps deserves a bit of explanation. The original 1959 book consisted of four chapters entitled "The Space Station A.D. 1994," "The Moon A.D. 2044," "Mars A.D. 2094," and "Venus A.D. 2144". They were based on magazine stories. However, there were not one but _two_ magazine versions of each story-- one British and one American. The British versions all appeared in _New Worlds_ in 1958. They were: "For All the Night," "Idiot's Delight," "The Thin Gnat-Voices," and "Space is a Province of Brazil". The American versions all appeared in _Fantastic_ with the chapter titles from the book in 1958, 1958, 1959, and 1959 respectively.

In 1960, Wyndham wrote a fifth Troon story. This appeared in _New Worlds_ in 1960 as "The Emptiness of Space" and in _Amazing_ as "The Asteroids, 2194". It was made a part of a new edition of _The Outward Urge_ in 1961. Most versions of the book today are the five-chapter book. I trust that all is now clear.

In _City_ (1952), Clifford D. Simak wrote a chronicle novel about the Websters, a family with a stay-at-home urge. Wyndham writes about the Troons, a family with the opposite kind of urge that sends--nay, drives-- them out into space.

We first meet Ticker Troon, working on a space station, "a wheel-like cage of lattice girders, one hundred and forty feet in diameter, and twenty-four feet thick" (15). At great sacrifice, Ticker saves the station from a missle. Next, we see Ticker's son commanding a Moon Base and forced and making some hard decisions as atomic war decimates the northern hemisphere of Earth. Still later, we see another Troon on Mars. But not on an expedition sponsored by the United States, Russia, or Britain. The balance of power has shifted to Brazil in the wake of the war. And in the fourth story, George Troon leads a maverick expedition from Australia to the swamps of Venus in the hopes of opening up space. In the final story, we see a Troon almost miraculously rescued from death only to be condemned to a peculiar psychological hell on Earth.

Some readers of today may find the stories a bit dated from a strictly historical view. The lunar landings didn't happen that way, and our space stations aren't wheel-shaped. Venus isn't a big marsh. We haven't had a nuclear war (yet). But these things really don't matter. What matters is Wyndham's rounded characters, his old-fashioned storytelling ability, and his smooth, low-key style. He makes you _believe_ in his history of space when you are reading the Troon chronicles. He pulls you into his world. That is what counts.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wyndham's wit continues 9 Jan. 2004
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Told in 5 parts, The Outward Urge is the story of 5 successive eras in the development of space travel and exploration. By now, the topic has covered ad nauseum and books of the sort are left (often with good reason) sitting in the corner or propping up an old table. What differentiates this from those though is that it was written in 1959 when space travel was still a passing dream to most and, as those who have read John Wyndham before will know, the author makes a perfect mix of fact, fiction and philosophy backed by genuinely good story telling to get his point across.
The characters of the novel are very well conceived and all too realistic in their reactions to the circumstances presented to them. I find that John Wyndham has a talent for portraying his characters believably and accurately, which lends his far-out stories an air of realism that many authors lack. In one particular scene of Mars, the third part of the novel, one of two men stranded in a craft on Mars believes the other to be an alien in the man's body; positively bereft of reality, his calm insanity becomes absolutely chilling to one reading in the quiet of the night.
Writing The Outward Urge presented serious obstacles to the author due to the technical nature of writing such a story, solved by consulting Lucas Parkes for the technological details to make it all more believable. Considering the erratic leaps and bounds technology has made since 1959, many predictions weren't so far off- such as the prediction of a space station by 1994 or the use of "narrow radar beams" used for tracking distances (think lasers).
Most important however are the author's suggestions about the other aspects of space travel. While loosely connected, each story part brings its own unique interpretation and representations of the political, social and individual implications of space travel to the tale, with a very clear voice about where the he stands on each. Here too his predictions are eerily accurate. In the fourth part, Venus, he tells of the modern superpower, Brazil, claiming Space as its province, illustrating the absurdity of man's claim to territory. In the first part, The Space Station, man's desire to reach the stars is overshadowed by his government's desire to exploit its tactical possibilities (think STARWARS program) and futher its position in the global rankings. This theme of Government Agenda versus Man carries on throughout and what often begins in personal or technological triumph ends in aggressive positioning and political wrangling, robbing the moment of any victory. Pervasive in each also though is that glimmering possibility that Man will one day overcome his political chains.
As with most of John Wyndham's other novels, The Outward Urge is nothing mind-blowing or particularly overwhelming, but it is a good story and very well written. What he lacks in explosive impact he exceeds in the art of subtlety and intelligence. The book can be read with ease in a day or two and, if you're anything like me, you'll find yourself itching for more and checking out the rest of his works for appeasement. See wwwdotyourwordsdotca for more.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Family Connections 29 Jun. 2003
By Greg Hughes - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
In "The Outward Urge" (1959) John Wyndham writes, along with his alter ego Lucas Parkes, a story describing four generations of a British, space-faring family - the Troons. The title of the book refers to a compulsion felt by this family to leave Earth and head for the stars. In their eyes there is a destiny to be fulfilled: to spread out and conquer ever-widening reaches of space.
The first chapter takes place in 1994, when the first space station is being built and mankind is yet to claim the Moon. (Wyndham never dreamed there would be footprints on the Moon just four months after his death.) The rivalry between the United States and the Soviets is intense. Britain is somewhat neutral. Ticker Troon, 24, is taking part in the construction of the space station when the project is almost sabotaged by an unknown, wandering missile. Ticker's bravery saves the lives of his fellows and the project but he never sees his new-born son Michael...
Fifty years later Michael Troon is the commander of a British station on the Moon. On Earth the northern hemisphere is being pounded in a nuclear bombardment. The extent of the damage can only be guessed at but casualties are known to be in the millions. Shocking statistics for a war that has only been going for ten days. Much of the northern hemisphere is reduced to ash.
After the Great Northern War countries of importance are now in the southern hemisphere. The strongest of these is Brazil. In 2094 Geoffery Trunho, the first man on Mars, becomes stranded after a misadventure with the landing module. He writes an account of what happened, in the hope that someone will find it one day. From his description, Mars is a dreary, desolate place to be marooned.
By 2144, Australians have landed on Venus. (One of the Troons became an Australian citizen.) This causes something of an uproar among the Brazilians, who consider space to be their province. It looks as if their monopoly of space is being challenged and plans are made to save face. Will Australia and Brazil come to blows?
At the time "The Outward Urge" was written space travel was still a dream. The best views of space were in the paintings of Chesley Bonestell, even though they were fanciful. Lucas Parkes wrote the parts of the story detailing the science (such as it was then), in an effort to make the book more believable. In the end you can't help but agree with the Troons - space needs to be colonized, and soon. In the event of an apocalyptic meteor smashing into the Earth it would be comforting to know that other planets are populated. The human race needn't become extinct.
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