One of my favourite authors dies: John Christopher

One of my favourite authors, John Christopher (real name Samuel Youd), died on 3 February, aged 89. I discovered him in the late 1980s, when I happened to borrow The White Mountains from my high school library. To my surprise and delight, I soon realised that I was reading the novel which had been adapted as the television series The Tripods a few years earlier – a series that had such an impact on me that I used to have dreams about it. Christopher’s Tripods saga is comprised of four short novels, which became lifelong favourites of mine, and are given pride of place on my bookshelf as the most read novels.

Christopher is also the author of a fabulous post-apocalyptic disaster novel, The Death of Grass, as well as many other science fiction books for teens and adults. Whichever age group a particular novel was intended for, he always injected his stories with an unapologetic sense of realism about life. A recurring theme in his work was the fight for individualism against mind control. And this perhaps explains my unending fascination with his work. He told an interviewer in 1984:

The apple which tempts my characters is the one that will remove the knowledge of good and evil. I suppose it’s something of a reversal of the conventional Eden story: Freedom of thought is perhaps the greatest good, and needs to be fought for and sacrificed for.

It was my pleasure to correspond briefly with John Christopher a few years ago via email. I had developed an idea for a Tripods spin-off entitled The Freedom Triangle, and was curious about the legal issues involved in publishing it. To my delight, he told me that my idea was highly original. Sadly, though, Disney owned the rights to The Tripods, as a movie adaptation was being planned.

I hope John Christopher’s work will live on, for future generations to enjoy. Check out my reviews of his books.

8 new book reviews

Once again, it’s time for my book reviews round-up. Head over to Darryl’s Library for eight new ones:

  • Brother Odd by Dean Koontz
  • I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
  • Domain by James Herbert
  • Strontium Dog: Agency Files 01 by John Wagner & Alan Grant
  • The Mars Run by Chris Gerrib
  • Logan’s Run by William F. Nolan & George Clayton Johnson
  • Chocky by John Wyndham
  • Blood Crazy by Simon Clark

Chris Gerrib has kindly donated his novel The Mars Run to my Book Downloads page, where it’s now available as a free PDF.

8 new book reviews

I’ve been pretty quiet on my personal blog for a few weeks, but busy as a beaver over at Darryl’s Library. I’ve read and reviewed eight new books:

  • It by Stephen King
  • Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
  • No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy
  • North of Sunset by Henry Baum
  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  • Anne Droyd and Century Lodge by Will Hadcroft
  • The Walking Dead #2: Miles Behind Us by Robert Kirkman
  • Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson

Henry Baum has kindly allowed his Hollywood crime novel North of Sunset to be featured as a free PDF file on the Book Downloads page.

8 new book reviews

I’ve added eight new book reviews to Darryl’s Library:

  • Survival Op: The Fear in the Wilderness by Scott Allen
  • The Dawkins Delusion? by Alister McGrath
  • Have Space Suit – Will Travel by Robert A. Heinlein
  • L.A. Stalker by David Kilpatrick
  • An Exorcist Tells His Story by Gabriele Amorth
  • Ultraviolet by Lesley Howarth
  • Antarktos Rising by Jeremy Robinson
  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy

David Kilpatrick has kindly allowed his novel L.A. Stalker to be made available for free download on my Book Downloads page.

The strangest thing happened when I uploaded my review of An Exorcist Tells His Story. My post was quickly spotted by a popular Roman Catholic website called Spirit Daily. The site posted a link to my review with the words “Protestant lauds exorcism book.” As a result, people flocked to the review and started writing comments. I had over 3,000 views in a single day, and ended up with over 180 comments posted. For a brief time, the post actually attained the number 1 spot on WordPress’s Top 100 Posts page, against 1.6 million registered blogs. Before now, I doubt I’ve even registered in the top 1,000.

It’s weird how you can spend several years honing a personal website and promoting it, making only tiny steps in popularity. Then, on a whim, a year ago you decide to set up a separate blog just to shine a little light on some book reviews you’ve written. You do practically nothing to promote it, and yet, by a sheer fluke, you’re number one on WordPress. Surreal.

Fancy a free novel (or five)?

I’ve been trying to persuade a few of my favourite indie authors to jump on the free ebook bandwagon. I’m happy to report that David Kilpatrick and Kealan Patrick Burke have joined me, along with David Moody and A.P. Fuchs, who were already offering novels for download. I’ve put up a page over at Darryl’s Library where you can download several ebooks for free, in PDF format (Adobe Acrobat required). The emphasis is on quality over quantity. I don’t expect this page to grow exponentially. I’m only featuring books I’ve read (or written, ha-ha) – books where my enjoyment can be verified through my own detailed reviews.

So, if you’re short of something to read, consider one of these babies:

  • Chion by Darryl Sloan
  • Undercover White Trash by David Kilpatrick
  • The Turtle Boy by Kealan Patrick Burke
  • Axiom-man by A.P. Fuchs
  • Autumn by David Moody

[ Link ]

Darryl’s Library

Anyone remember the old book reviews section of my website? For several years, I was in the habit of reviewing everything I had read, and the database grew to about eighty titles. I’ve let the reviews slip for the past six months, and even went as far as taking the link to the section off my main site.

I’ve decided to kickstart the thing again, in a new, friendler format: a WordPress blog. I’ve laboriously transcribed all the reviews into it. Before, the database was just a basic alphabetical list. Now, it’s a fully searchable archive, which can also be filtered by author or genre. I’ve also included a filter for self-published and small press titles.

So, have a peek at Darryl’s Library.

The Christmas holiday commences in a few minutes for me. I have promised Andrew Harrison that I will write the script for the next Midnight Pictures film over the break, so while he’s getting fat on turkey, I will be scribbling away at the word processor. I wouldn’t have it any other way, as I am likely to be bored and depressed otherwise. There’s a cheery note to end the post on! Merry Christmas, everyone!