BOOK REVIEW: TROUBLE WITH LICHEN BY JOHN WYNDHAM

ICHEN

GENERAL INFORMATION

TITLE: TROUBLE WITH LICHEN

AUTHOR: JOHN WYNDHAM

PAGES: 204

PUBLISHER: PENGUIN BOOKS

YEAR: 1960

GENRE: SCIENCE FICTION

COVER TYPE: PAPER BACK

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trouble_with_Lichen

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Wyndham

BLURB FROM THE COVER

Francis Saxover and Diana Brackley, two scientists investigating rare lichen, discover it has a remarkable property: it retards the ageing process. Francis, realising the implications for the world of an ever-youthful, wealthy elite, wants to keep it a secret, but Diana sees an opportunity to overturn the male status quo by using the lichen to inspire a feminist revolution.

As each scientist wrestles with the implications and practicalities of exploiting the discovery, the world comes ever closer to learning the truth.  

THE OPENING LINE

THE farewell was beautiful.

OVERALL IMPRESSION

I think Trouble with Lichen is a great novel. I enjoyed reading it. Wyndham is the only science fiction writer I really enjoy. Trouble with Lichen is no exception. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

HIGHLIGHTS

I love Wyndham’s concept for Trouble with Lichen. The trouble is the lichen exists in a very small amount. Francis and Diana work for years to find a way to replicate it and grow more but never succeed. The lichen therefore can’t be given to everyone in the world. This is part of the reason they try to keep it secret. I really liked this idea. They found something that could increase human life span to 200 years but there’s a little snag. I liked the media frenzy as the truth is slowly revealed and it was cool when Diana faked her death. I also liked the ending.

I thought Diana was a great character, women power and all that. She was smart yet beautiful and pretty much kicked Francis’s butt. You go girl. She opens Nefertiti Ltd, an exclusive beauty salon for rich women she treated with the lichen. I think she was a great character. She was much stronger than Margaret, the simpering wet-end from Westwood by Stella Gibbons.

Trouble with Lichen like all of Wyndham’s novels that I’ve read is set in an eerily familiar and realistic world. I’m not a fan of science fiction that set in far off, weird worlds. I can’t relate to it. I like Wyndham because his work is set on earth and is sometimes chillingly plausible. If Trouble with Lichen had been set on Mars or some other planet I’d have hated it.

I like Wyndham’s style as a writer. His prose is crisp and powerful. There wasn’t a word wasted in Trouble with Lichen. No flowery language and over the top descriptions. He gets straight to the point. This works well in his short novels. I don’t think I would like his style across 400 or 500+ pages though.

Trouble with Lichen questions how much power is wielded by science in our lives. I think this can be applied to today’s society. I’m very cynical about some scientific and technical advances. I think people rely on technology far too much and social networking to an extent has dumbed down human communication. I also think science sometimes interferes with nature too much. That’s just my opinion. This made Trouble with Lichen extra creepy for me. Who would want to live to be 200 anyway? Not me that’s for sure.

LOWLIGHTS

There are two female characters in Trouble with Lichen who really irritated me, Francis’s daughter Zephanie and his son’s wife Jane. For a kick off what kind of a stupid name is Zephanie? She came across as a spoiled and petty child. I wanted to give her a good slap. Jane wasn’t much better. She had a bit of a temper tantrum when she found out Francis had excluded her from treatment with the lichen. I could have done without either of them.

I thought the amount of dialogue in Trouble with Lichen was a bit excessive. I just looked at two pages at random and it’s all dialogue. This started to get a bit annoying. Some of the dialogue would have worked better as exposition.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Trouble with Lichen was very good. It gave me the chills. I love Wyndham’s overall concept for the novel. He had a great idea and executed it pretty well.

RATING

4-star-rating

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