February 7th, 2012


John Christopher, R.I.P.

Author John Christopher (real name: Christopher Samuel Youd--why would you ever change that to something as boring as John Christopher?) has died at the age of 89. He was, of course, best known for the Tripods trilogy, written in the late 1960s--The White Mountains, The City of Gold and Lead, and The Pool of Fire--dystopian science fiction novels for young adults (then called "children") long, long before that market became the oversaturated cash cow it is today. (There was also a prequel, When the Tripods Came, which Christopher wrote in the late 1980s.)

A confession: I never read the books. I know the Tripod trilogy because of the 1984-5 BBC-Seven Network miniseries, which was broadcast in the States on, I think, Nickelodeon, back in the days when Nick imported interesting children's programming from abroad, and didn't just shit out hyperactive, poorly drawn cartoons and slick sitcoms about kids who dress like adults and are secretly rock stars. But I digress. The Tripods miniseries was super cool (who can forget Capping Day?) and I always meant to read the books, but you know how it goes. I kept forgetting to pick them up, and now I'm nearly forty-three years old.

Even though Christopher wrote many other novels and series, many for adults, it's his sf trilogy for children about three-legged aliens taking over Earth and turning its inhabitants into mind-controlled slaves that seems destined to become a timeless classic, as lasting as the Chronicles of Narnia or the Oz books. Here's hoping children continue to discover it, whether it's on bookshelves, websites, or their parents' Blu-rays.