Genre: English Sci Fi

Published: 1960 - Read:

Trouble with Lichen

John Wyndham (1903 - 1969)

Pages: 208


John Wyndham (full name John Wyndham Parkes Lucas Beynon Harris!) is perhaps best known for four novels: The Day of the Triffids (1951), The Chrysalids (1955), The Midwich Cuckoos (1957), and Chocky (1968). Wyndham's novels have been disparaged as "cosy catastrophes" but no lesser writer than Margaret Atwood has acknowleged her debt to him and his dystopian visions.

The main question here is how to pronounce the troublesome word 'Lichen'. [I was brought up on 'litchin', but the narrator here goes for 'liken' - not a problem if you're reading it to yourself!)

This was a freebie from Audible. Thought I'd give it a try. I read The Day of the Triffids, Chocky and The Chrysalids when I was a teenager and enjoyed them - probably the last one the most. I had a copy of The Trouble with Lichen and started it a few times, but for some reason never got on with it.

Anyway, it can now be crossed off the list. Not exactly an exciting read, but quite interesting. It poses the question: what would be the effect on our culture and society if we discovered a treatment which could extend our lives to 200 or 300 years. (At one point the Morticians' Union petition the Government fearing their trade will drop off! And there are questions asked about how pensions would work.)

At one point there is a clergyman on the radio fulminating against the sinful pride of man. He quotes Psalm 90: "For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night... The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away." But - Genesis 6:3 says, “The LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.”

Any advance on that? Yes: Methuselah is said to have lived 969 years! [Genesis 5:21ff.]

There's a reason this one is not as well known as The Day of the Triffids and his other popular novels