Saturday, June 30, 2018

Wanderers of TimeWanderers of Time by John Wyndham
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a short collection of stories that were written in the Golden Age, mostly 30's as far as I can tell.

For those of you not in the know, Wyndham wrote one of the first best horror/SF dystopias in 1951 called The Day of the Triffids, plummeting a stolid middle-class England into a world full of blind men and women (save a handful) living and dying in droves while man-eating plants like in The Little Shop of Horrors picks off whoever is left. The style, the excitement, and the quality are palpable.

These short stories here came out before then, and like most of the Golden Age SF that came out, its very dated by today's standards and some are outright passe. The time travel stuff, for example, is kinda wild and sometimes seems like carbon copies of all the others, while the space-travel stuff is usually pretty wild.

The breakdown:

Wanderers of Time - my least favorite. Basically, it's an undertow of time machines causing ripples and popping travelers out of time. Time to get off the isolated island after a shipwreck!

Derelict of Space - easily my favorite. A salvage operation, with rumors of treasure, becomes a kerfuffle when governments turn it into a black-flag operation and a PR nightmare that presages the opening salvos of WWII BEFORE WWII. It's absolutely nuts, not wild like some adventure, but scarily plausible every step. How perceptions and the BIG LIE can take over everyone's talking points and the truth gets lost in the old legend of lost treasure. You can guess what the lost treasure is. :)

Child of Power - very decent.
Pretty weird and scary sensitive child comes into extra senses in the modern '30's and is either used or not quite used by others. Mostly it's a character study of the kid from the parents' point of view. It's odd and a warning at the same time. Reminds me of Wyndham's later Chocky.

The Last Lunarians - okay first contact story. It's really more of a warning, but what kind of contact story isn't?

The Puff-ball Menace - my second-favorite story in the lot. Mycelium and bio-warfare in rural towns. Wild end. :)

Wyndham is no author to sneeze at. :)


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