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on 4 January 2000
John Wyndham has written another beauty of a book. Although it is a collection of stories rather than a novel, John Wyndham has touched upon the subject of science fiction without painting on the fancy knobs and buttons. He treats all the futuristic stories with a soberness which allows the reader to appreciate the story rather than the marvel at the inventiveness of the author in regard to various superfluous gadgets. Although these stories were written for an American public (E.G. flashlight instead of torch), this doesn't detract from the 'Britishness' of the stories. My personal favourite was 'Dumb Martian' but the rest are just as well written and enjoyable to read. If you're not too sure whether to start reading John Wyndham's works, here is as good a place to start as any. Otherwise, read 'Day of the Triffids' and look at this second.
John Wyndham is one of the best, you have no excuse to not read at least one of his books!! Start with this and work through - I am!!
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on 24 October 2017
A good compilation of short stories by a great early writer in the Sci-Fi genre. The Pawleys Peepholes story is actually well advanced in it's subject matter and in many ways compares with the works of Arthur C Clark. Very enjoyable light reading.
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VINE VOICEon 6 June 2009
My dad gave me his copy of this about 25 years ago now, I read it as a teenager and loved it. I've just revisited it and it generally stands the test of time. Inevitably some elements are out of synch with modern times (eg the wife in the short story "Survival") but this gives it a quaintness whilst in no way detracting from the quality of the story telling.

John Wyndham had an absolute gift for hooking the reader in with ideas that seem so simple but are in fact at times quite profound. He avoids the over-complication that more recent sci-fi writers can tend to indulge in, he relies on the plot and the characters to elaborate the ideas behind the stories and mostly he writes stories that you just want to continue to read. Recommended wholeheartedly and I've just passed on my copy to my 11 year old son - I hope he's as entranced as I was.
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on 11 December 2014
This is a book of short stories, a number of which are fun. It doesn't count as one of JW's best productions, but it is well worth the tiny price (I got mine on Kindle). Time travel and paradoxes feature heavily.
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on 25 July 2015
weird but not enjoyably so
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Though always categorised as sci-fi, John Wyndham was probably one of the least science-based writers of the genre. There are very few gadgets in his stories and even when technology is being used - in order to time-travel for example - he doesn't usually bother to give any kind of made-up science to explain the working; he simply expects his reader to accept it as possible and real. His stories might take the reader towards the fantasy side of sci-fi on occasion, but at heart they're about humanity and Wyndham's contemporary society even if they may be set on Mars in some distant future.

This collection, originally published in 1956, brings together ten stories, ranging from comedy to horror, with touches of romance and occasionally social commentary built in. There's no real common theme - this is a collection where each story is individual rather than being part of a greater whole. But most of the stories are more than strong enough to stand alone and even the weaker ones are well worth reading. Wyndham is a great storyteller and the variety in this book allows him to show off his impressive versatility.

The stories are:-

Chronoclasm - a story that addresses the paradoxes inherent in time travel and throws in a nice little romantic comedy along the way.

Time to Rest - the tale of a human stranded on Mars after the destruction of Earth, and how his perceptions of the indigenous Martians gradually change as he struggles to accept his situation.

Meteor - a threatened species sends explorers out into space to find a new home, and the planet they find is Earth. Comedy and tragedy all rolled into one - a beautifully imaginative story, this one.

Survival - when a systems failure leaves a spacecraft drifting in space, the passengers and crew must find a way to eke out their food supplies till help arrives. There's only one woman aboard and she is desperate to find a way to ensure her unborn child survives. Gruesome, horrific and yet kinda fun too...

Pawley's Peepholes - the people of the future find a way to visit the present and treat it like a peepshow, popping up in the most unexpected and unwelcome places. How will the people of the present respond? A comedy with a satirical edge.

Opposite Number - now we move into the realm of parallel universes, though Wyndham's reasoning for their existence is...er...somewhat unique! This is Wyndham at his most romantic, and more than any other I found this story felt very dated. Still enjoyable though.

Pillar to Post - time travel again, but this time by body swapping with people from the past. But what if the person you've swapped with doesn't want to swap back? Imaginative and with a lot of humour, but this story also takes a rather grim look at the horrific injuries some soldiers were left with after the Second World War.

Dumb Martian - our nasty narrator buys a Martian woman to take with him on his solitary five-year posting to an uninhabited moon orbiting Jupiter. Fooled by the shape of her face into thinking Lellie is stupid, the narrator is soon to discover he has under-estimated her. This is a thinly disguised attack on racism, but despite the fairly overt message, it's still a good story.

Compassion Circuit - a future when robots have been designed to take care of all our needs, including health-care. But what happens when the robot decides that it knows what's best for us - without asking our permission? A theme that has recurred many times in sci-fi over the last half-century, and handled with a lovely touch of horror here.

Wild Flower - a strange little story foreshadowing the whole nature/technology debate that is still going on today. Not the most successful of the stories in terms of entertainment but still interesting.

It's hard to pick favourites when the overall standard is so high, but I particularly like Meteor, Survival and Pillar to Post. But there's so much variety in the stories that each reader would probably end up with a completely different top three. Great as an addition for anyone who's read Wyndham's major novels, and would be equally great as an introduction to his writing for anyone who hasn't. Highly recommended.
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on 29 September 2014
A series of very short stories by the science fiction writer John Wyndham. I would rate these stories as being like the B movies of the 50s. If you liked the B movies you will like these. If you did not like the B movies you probably will not like these. These stories are short and very concise, sometimes a bit to short and concise as you start wondering did I miss something, but no you did not miss anything it just was not written.
In short a good moderate read if you want a 30 - 40 minute story.
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on 12 February 1999
John Wyndham experiments with a range of styles in this collection of short stories, to dazzling effect. A man who always hated the term 'science fiction' has turned out a collection which spans from comedy through horror to thriller and even ropes in modernism. This is John Wyndham at the peak of his creative powers. If you hate SF then give this a go, it has the immediacy of Rudyard Kipling and the plot twists of Roald Dahl. If you are a Science Fiction fan, then read this to see how it should be done.
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on 13 April 2014
This is a brilliant collection. Wyndham explains in his introduction that he wrote the stories over a period of fifteen years as a kind of experiment, moulding the sci-fi motif to a variety of short story genres. The result is something that you don't find often with single-author collections: a clutch of stories which are consistent in voice and theme, but which are so assorted in their tone, in their handling and in their purpose, that they fly from the page in all different directions: never predictable, never tedious.

'Dumb Martian' was perhaps the most accomplished of the stories, pitting a callous Earthman, Duncan, against a Martian woman, Lellie, whom he has purchased from her parents for the purpose of keeping him company during a five-year contract on a sub-moon of Jupiter. An allegory for racism and domestic abuse, the story explores Duncan's determination to ignore his wife's intellectual capacity, his escalating cruelty, and the revenge Lellie finally wreaks. I loved this story for its cold, silent battle of wits in its closing scenes - the breathless intensity of their hatred for one another, played out against a backdrop of the whole dark universe.

However, there is plenty more than alien relationships to be had in this glittering collection... Here there be time travel, spaceships, parallel universes, and cyborgs. Sci-fi aficionados, get hold of a copy if you can!
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on 26 February 2012
Im a 36 yr old woman and remember enjoying John Wynham books as a teenager.
This book of short storys is excellent.
Dont make the mistake of thinking that Sci Fi ois just for nerdy boys!
This is what I call true SCIENCE Fiction - in other words id science would allow it - iot could be true! its not just green aliens fighting in space you know!
John Wyndham is a fantastic writer with an amazing imagination - a bit like an HG Wells of the 40's.
He really was forward thinking as is shown in this collection in which every story is different from the last.
Im re-collecting all his books now and if you have never read JW try this or start with The Day Of The Triffids, one of his more famous works. I also loved the Crysalids.
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