The Tripods
April 16, 2018 11:32 AM   Subscribe

The Tripods was a dystopian Sci-Fi series written in 1967 which served as a template for many of the YA novels out today. Picked up by the BBC in the 1980s, a TV series was released and then brought to the states on PBS on Saturday Afternoons. (And now some of you are about to watch it on YouTube.)

These books served as many a template for today's Young Adult Novel craze... bringing in a post apocalyptic Utopian society held together by a benevolent(?) set of overlords, reminiscent of the Divergent Series, the Maze Runner, The Hunger Games, and the 5th Wave.
posted by Nanukthedog (69 comments total) 64 users marked this as a favorite
 
Really enjoyed the books as a kid.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:37 AM on April 16 [17 favorites]


I remember being really scared of the Tripods when I was about 4...it's sort of amazing recognising just how flimsy and unconvincing they look.
posted by howfar at 11:43 AM on April 16


I first encountered the series in comic-strip form in the pages of Boys' Life (the magazine for Boy Scouts). Here it is: The White Mountains, The City of Gold and Lead, The Pool of Fire.

I quickly went to the library and got the real books. They were formative. Never saw the TV series, which never made it to America as far as I know.
posted by rikschell at 11:47 AM on April 16 [34 favorites]


Never saw the TV series, which never made it to America as far as I know.

It did, because I remember catching an episode when I was younger, which lead me to the novels.
posted by NoxAeternum at 11:54 AM on April 16 [1 favorite]


Shout out also to the children's librarian at Toronto's Main Street library circa 1981, who probably literally saved my life with her constant recommendations of the finest in YA and adult literature, including turning me on to John Christopher via The White Mountains. I can still quote sections of The City of Gold and Lead by memory. Thank you for the heads up about the series.
posted by warriorqueen at 11:56 AM on April 16 [4 favorites]


I remember hearing these read on the radio. Our whole family life was organized around the daily reading. So scary and so fascinating.
posted by mumimor at 11:56 AM on April 16


That book was so scary to me back then.
posted by dominik at 11:59 AM on April 16


Graham Nelson wrote a superb collection of essays about the background, production, scripts, effects, music and critical reception of the BBC television version of The Tripods. (These essays have disappeared from the web but are preserved by the Internet Archive.)
posted by cyanistes at 12:01 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]


everybody who remembers the serialization in boys' life, raise their hand

they made a big impression on me, as i look back on them through 30+ years of hazy memory, i can only assume they were thinly veiled anti-socialist propaganda
posted by entropicamericana at 12:06 PM on April 16 [21 favorites]


I read them over and over when I was a child. That probably explains why I like in a dystopia today.
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:09 PM on April 16 [2 favorites]


I remember these books (especially the Boys' Life versions, which I saw because my brother was a Scout). I don't think we ever caught the tv series, though.
posted by camyram at 12:09 PM on April 16


I remember the books! That's where I learned the excellent phrase "gobbets of flesh".
posted by The otter lady at 12:12 PM on April 16 [10 favorites]


I read all of them, but found them depressing, because there were NO GIRLS. Other than the one that ended up in the City's butterfly display with the aliens.

They weren't as depressing as the Sword of the Spirits trilogy (which was definitely my first experience with an anti-hero), but still hard to read.
posted by dancing_angel at 12:13 PM on April 16 [12 favorites]


I loved these books as a kid! Do they hold up at all?
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:15 PM on April 16


i remember seeing the BBC show on US TV sometime in the 80's...it was on HBO or Showtime or something at some weird time, like 7am? I guess it could have been on PBS... agreeing that it was way scary. I have a vague memory of one of the kids being like...blind, but it turns out he wasn't blind, he just needed glasses, and no one knew how to make glasses anymore? or maybe the aliens had made glasses illegal? Anyway, way scary, stoked to watch again! Thanks!
posted by capnsue at 12:16 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]


Boys Life comic strips here, too. My (tiny) school library had some back issues, but it was hard to get the story in order until I realized there were books and those could be found at larger libraries. 30+ years later, I still remember the main character's complex relationship with the alien in The City of Gold and Lead and the perfect, bittersweet ending of the series.

I wonder if HBO/Netflix/Amazon/Hulu have thought about buying the rights.
posted by chimpsonfilm at 12:18 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]


I read all of them, but found them depressing, because there were NO GIRLS. Other than the one that ended up in the City's butterfly display with the aliens.

This post was getting me excited about sharing these books with my daughter. Thank you for reining in my enthusiasm.

I'll cherish my own vague memories of these books, but nowadays we can do better.
posted by gurple at 12:18 PM on April 16 [4 favorites]


(crap, didn't see bit about PBS airing the episodes in the afternoons, I guess it would have been a weird thing to be on HBO or Showtime)
posted by capnsue at 12:18 PM on April 16


Rush's "Red Barchetta" reminds me of the Tripods.

I know the real inspiration for the song.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:21 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]


Pretty sure 90% of my half-remembered dreams have their genesis in things I remember from watching The Tripods at a rather impressionable age.
posted by Happy Dave at 12:23 PM on April 16


I had a John Christopher phase for a while, although I don't remember any part of Tripods as "utopian."
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 12:27 PM on April 16


Can't remember if I discovered these via Boy's Life; I would have read them about the mid-seventies. I both recognized the similarity to the Martian war-machines from The War of the Worlds and the horrifying nature of the Caps.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:30 PM on April 16 [3 favorites]


Thanks for the post! It brought back some memories.

As well as the main trilogy, there was a prequel called When The Tripods Came - I found that one the scariest as a kid, because it showed the transition from normal life as society collapsed, and not just the aftermath of the invasion.

(I grew up after the Cold War had finished, but libraries hadn't renewed their stock and were full of purportedly "Young Adult" fiction that was just bleak, despairing apocalyptic horror. Stuff like The Tripods or Futuretrack Five by Robert Westall weren't even that bad when you compare them to Robert Swindells' Brother In The Land, which was the YA equivalent of Threads.)
posted by chappell, ambrose at 12:50 PM on April 16 [9 favorites]


I'm still kind of pissed at the Spielberg War of the Worlds for ripping off the "metal eggs" scene without attribution.
posted by Iridic at 12:54 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]


Count me in as a Beanpole fan. I never heard of The Tripods until a few years ago; I read the first three books and watched the first 16 episodes on YouTube. Then for some reason – maybe because I'm way past YA – once they actually got to the White Mountains I lost interest, and never saw the last 9 episodes. Didn’t realize there was a 4th book written 20 years later.

The opening 3.5-minute segment of the first episode sets the tone really well; it's like a futuristic olde English version of Shirley Jackson's The Lottery.
posted by LeLiLo at 1:03 PM on April 16 [2 favorites]


I was already past the YA age group when Tripods came to LA television on Saturday afternoons on channel 28, right before/after Doctor Who (which aired in 95 minute blocks of 4 episodes, usually covering an entire story arc) and replacing the original run of The Tomorrow People. Remember that show? (No, it wasn't about an alien invasion of Tom Snyder clones) Collectively, the Doc, the Pods and the People convinced me that only England could do SciFi TV right and Original Star Trek was a fluke... then Next Generation came along, but I still believe, thanks to Hitchhiker's Guide TV and Red Dwarf that they are the masters of SciFi Comedy TV...
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:09 PM on April 16 [3 favorites]


I don't know how well they stand up, although granted, it's been nearly 35 years since I read them. In my memory, they're mired a bit in the "boys adventure science fiction" constraints of the 60s and early 70s. Judith Tar has been reviewing Andre Norton's contributions to that subgenre and talking a bit on how limited that was.

There's a certain weirdness behind John Christopher's horrific genocides while keeping sexuality firmly off the stage. Steven King would blow that conceit wide open (not always in ways that are good.)
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 1:09 PM on April 16 [2 favorites]


The denouement where humanity begins to bicker and then balkanize at the close of The Pool of Fire made a big and sobering impression on me as a kid. Sure seems to reflect reality.
posted by wildblueyonder at 1:17 PM on April 16 [7 favorites]


I also was a fan of the comics in Boys Life.
posted by drezdn at 1:24 PM on April 16


the original run of The Tomorrow People

The teenagers that could teleport? There was a lot of good TV science fiction made for kids in the UK, over quite a long time. The Tomorrow People was also rebooted in the 90s.

Dark Season was written by Russell T Davis (later responsible for rebooting Doctor Who) and was Kate Winslet's first role. Davis also did the pretty dark and grown-up Century Falls, inspired by the terrifying Children of the Stones.

There's a good history of British children's SF/fantasy by the BFI here.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 1:25 PM on April 16 [4 favorites]


The Tomorrow People was also rebooted in 2013 in the U.S.!
posted by idb at 1:31 PM on April 16


> I loved these books as a kid! Do they hold up at all?
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:15 PM on April 16 [+] [!]


Yes, sort of. I re-read them a few months ago, 25-odd years after the first several times, and was pretty gripped all the way through. They're very well written and atmospheric, and the dangers the characters get into feel very real. The near-total lack of girls dancing_angel mentions is pretty jarring, though.
posted by Otto the Magnificent at 1:32 PM on April 16 [3 favorites]


I had a John Christopher phase for a while, although I don't remember any part of Tripods as "utopian."

The society was very peaceful with very little, if any, conflict. Of course that was down to alien mind control of anyone who was over 14.

I think these were the first books without any pictures that I read for myself and I always remembered the descriptions as being very vivid. When I reread them as an adult I was surprised at how sparse the text was, very little in the way of description at all. My young mind had filled in most of the details myself.

Still they were some of my favourite books as a kid.

The TV series I did not like. The took a fast moving book and made it very, very slow.
posted by antiwiggle at 1:32 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]


Oh, wow. I loved those books as a kid.
posted by rmd1023 at 1:44 PM on April 16


I saw the series first, then read the books, then read more John Christopher, then ran into a very strange movie ("After Hours") featuring the actors from the series.

Very 80's childhood for me here.
posted by ocschwar at 1:44 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]


Of course that was down to alien mind control of anyone who was over 14.

In my memory that starts off creepy and gets even worse as the series moves forward.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 1:57 PM on April 16


I loved those books as a kid, rereading them many times. I had no idea there were adaptations made. Considering I only read them in the (Danish) translation, it is perhaps time to throw them on the to-read pile.
posted by bouvin at 2:06 PM on April 16


As well as the main trilogy, there was a prequel called When The Tripods Came - I found that one the scariest as a kid, because it showed the transition from normal life as society collapsed, and not just the aftermath of the invasion.

Yes, I have vague memories of the other ones, and enjoyed reading them as a kid, but that one was full-on terrifying to me in ways that stick with me to this day.
posted by mstokes650 at 2:20 PM on April 16


I read this series about 40 years ago, breathlessly. I also seem to recall this series hinting that the way the aliens invaded the minds of the people of Earth was via television, and only a small percentage (the non-TV viewers) were left free of the aliens' mind control. That was the first piece of social satire I think I ever understood. Also, for those who saw this on TV, did they leave that part out or include it? The latter choice would have been delicious.
posted by JimInLoganSquare at 2:34 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]


Another "first read them in Boy's Life" person here.

When I was a kid, our teacher asked us to write authors and ask them about their rewrite process* and I wrote him. I got a marvelous letter back, though I suspect it is lost to the mists of time.

I re-read the books a few years ago and they hold up pretty well aside from the aforementioned lack of women. The description of Will's Master and his day-to-day caretaking of him is pretty terrifying.

* - In retrospect I am really mad at this assignment, authors are not there to do homework for kids
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 2:37 PM on April 16 [3 favorites]


Also, for those who saw this on TV, did they leave that part out or include it?

The prequel was published in 1988, several years after the TV show was broadcast (1984-85).

When I was a kid, our teacher asked us to write authors and ask them about their rewrite process* and I wrote him. I got a marvelous letter back, though I suspect it is lost to the mists of time.

I remember when Youd briefly appeared in rec.arts.sf.written, but he didn't stick around long. In my memory, people were net.rude to him and drove him away, but rereading those threads now I see no evidence of that.
posted by The Tensor at 2:53 PM on April 16


I stand by utopian. To the narrator and Will, that whole society thing is a dystopian nightmare - but hey, to the bulk of folks living in backward society occasionally lobotomised by the Tripods, society was as great as it gets! Some other pleb's dystopia is great if you happen to be alien overlord or be programmed by the alien overlord to enjoy your time until you are eaten - hey! Life is pretty great!

And let's face it, if all the metafilter users existed in this paradigm, only one or two userids would be fighting the system- the rest of us would be part of the cabbal.
posted by Nanukthedog at 3:36 PM on April 16


The ones left free of Tripod influence were naturally immune, plus maybe a few off-the-grid types. Definitely in the prequel some people just didn't fall victim to the original kind control broadcasts even if they watched them.
posted by edd at 4:09 PM on April 16


I think the prequel also contains a scene or two that originally appeared in the TV series? The man with the bowler hat is a very vague memory?
posted by edd at 4:10 PM on April 16


I read the books in elementary school, amidst Star Trek novelizations (James Blish's), Earthsea (LeGuin), and Bradbury. The first one terrified me - the scene of digging out the tracker might have been the first body torture or horror I ever read.

Like wildblueyonder, the concluding politics were very instructive to me.

Decades went my. I became a parent. Our eldest (a girl) was only mildly interested in Tripods, and didn't get in. Our youngest (a boy) was passionate about the series. He snagged that 4th book (the prequel), which I found relatively light, but did enjoy the use of tv to cow a populace. Son also tracked down YouTube clips - first time I'd seen them.
posted by doctornemo at 4:12 PM on April 16


Also, for those who saw this on TV, did they leave that part out or include it?

The prequel was published in 1988, several years after the TV show was broadcast (1984-85).


I guess you are hinting that perhaps the "prequel" did include this hint or perhaps expanded on it? To clarify, I never read the prequel. I read the original, 1967 books, in or around 1977. One of those original 1967 books, as I recall it, hinted that TV was the instrument used by the aliens to first take control of the minds of the Earthlings. So, my question was whether, inthe early 1980s, the TV show version included any mention of the idea that TV was a tool to brainwash its viewers. That would amuse me if it had.
posted by JimInLoganSquare at 4:12 PM on April 16


On rewatching I must have conflated the first scene of the TV series with a scene in the prequel but they weren't the same.

Think my imagination when reading books back then was a lot stronger too...
posted by edd at 4:24 PM on April 16


Hmm. I've been wondering for years about a book I started one day in the library and maybe this was it. It was apocalyptic sci-fi, probably British, about young boys, and I always knew it wasn't The (Day of The) Triffids, but yet that stuck in my mind. Maybe it was this one?

I remember clearly reading the beginning and the protagonist meets another boy wearing glasses, only he doesn't know what glasses are and describes the manner in which pieces of glass are held down in front of his eyes. I thought that was odd and it took me a while until I realized what the character was describing.

Is this that book????
posted by stevil at 4:33 PM on April 16 [2 favorites]


I read all of them, but found them depressing, because there were NO GIRLS. Other than the one that ended up in the City's butterfly display with the aliens.

Oh, man--I had an omnibus version, I think I'd picked it out of a teacher's book collection somewhere or gotten it as a hand-me-down from some nameless relative. I remember so clearly being terribly impressed by and caught up in that black-haired girl's temperament--what was her name? all I remember is the image of ink-black hair against pale skin--and how in my head she'd wanted as badly as Will to win, to find out, to get somewhere--and being so terribly crestfallen when she was killed, turned into a boring, senseless art piece instead of being allowed to do any of that.

I kept reading because I was fascinated by the descriptions of aliens, and I think this was also the point in my life where I read a book of short stories featuring an alien who kept a small human girl as a pet from the pet's perspective? And I've always been a sucker for alien biology and cultures, so I remember large swathes of what is probably the second book, too. But that stuck with me, because I'd been so hoping she would cut her way loose and join the boys, and the image of her stilled like a pinned butterfly in a case was... heartbreaking.

They were good books. I wasn't sorry to have read them. But they were never going to be the treasured centerpieces of my childhood, either, and that's a big reason why.
posted by sciatrix at 4:36 PM on April 16 [5 favorites]


I read these as an adult, and yeah, they's pretty much only boys and also there's some racial stuff during the last book that's gross.

The alien culture is cool though.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:53 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]


Pretty sure this was serialized in Schoolastic kids mag during the late 70's because I would not have been reading Boys Life and I remember being hooked on the story. It was the stuff of nightmares, tho *shudders*

It figures this was also on BBC. Erm, I don't see the crossover of actors with the movie After Hours (1985) - what am I missing??
posted by jbenben at 5:54 PM on April 16


I remember clearly reading the beginning and the protagonist meets another boy wearing glasses, only he doesn't know what glasses are and describes the manner in which pieces of glass are held down in front of his eyes. I thought that was odd and it took me a while until I realized what the character was describing.

Is this that book????


I think so. From The White Mountains, Chapter Four, "Beanpole":
But the striking thing about him was what he wore on his face. Pieces of thin metal ran from behind his ears to hold a frame with a couple of round pieces of glass, one in front of each eye. One of them was somewhat larger than the other, giving him a peculiar cockeyed look.
posted by SpaceBass at 6:05 PM on April 16 [2 favorites]


I remember clearly reading the beginning and the protagonist meets another boy wearing glasses, only he doesn't know what glasses are and describes the manner in which pieces of glass are held down in front of his eyes. I thought that was odd and it took me a while until I realized what the character was describing.

Is this that book????
posted by stevil at 7:33 PM on April 16


Yes to the glasses thing. Yes, this is that book.
posted by Nanukthedog at 6:05 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]


Wow, SpaceBass and Nanukthedog - that is so cool - I have wondered what the heck that book was for about 40 years. Thank you!!!!
posted by stevil at 6:08 PM on April 16 [3 favorites]


The books had a perpetual reserve waiting list in the library at my elementary school. I'm not even sure I ever finished them.
posted by lagomorphius at 6:16 PM on April 16


The first book in this series was the first science fiction book I ever read. I didn't realize until years later when I was an adult that there were 2 more books because my local library only had the first one. But it did start my love for science fiction as a kid.
posted by interplanetjanet at 7:06 PM on April 16


I read the books and the comics. I loved them, and they deeply affected me. They weren't about socialism; they were about television. I haven't read these books in over 20 years, and I can still go through the plots in my mind, some of it in real detail. It makes me happy to think they are still being read. If I had a child this would be one of the things I would have been waiting for the right time to give them and holding my breath, like my father did when he gave me The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's at 12. They were that good.
posted by xammerboy at 7:11 PM on April 16


The White Mountains was one of the first books I ever read, back in first grade (early 70s) and I loved it, despite the lack of girls. I also trace my love of science fiction to this book, and I read pretty much everything Christopher/Youd ever wrote. I got my own copies when I was older and a few years ago read it to my kid - she enjoyed it very much.
posted by mogget at 7:55 PM on April 16


The "shmand fair" was another artifact that left a real impression--how the field finds new uses for things, even infrastructure that has lost its major components.

Mild spoiler for a non-plot point: the villagers use railroad tracks ("chemin de fer") and cars by giving them an initial pull with horses and letting momentum carry loads over distance.

And these might have been the first books to give me a real glimpse of how someone can justify servility to themselves, and how oppressive regimes can be rationalized by the oppressed.
posted by pykrete jungle at 8:05 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]


Christopher's YA books - The Tripods, the Sword of the Spirits trilogy, The Lotus Caves, The Guardians, etc - are still favourite 'lazy weekend' reading for me. When I've read everything else in the bookshelf a little too recently to re-read & am waiting for something I've ordered at the library to turn up, I'll grab something by him (or John Wyndham, or sometimes a 'boys own' by Ivan Southall or similar). When The Tripods Came is less good, but well worth it for the dig at Brian Aldiss.

(In a TV interview at the time of the original trilogy, Aldiss - playing his usual cantankerous part as the Great Man of British sci-fi - dissed the alien's apparent lack of technological advancement in the original trilogy.

In the prequel, a stuffy old schoolteacher pooh-poohs the alien threat by repeating Aldiss' complaint. Guess who's the first adult to become a full-on Tripod convert? 😏)


The Lotus Caves is good kid-level sci-fi. Want some mild YA dystopia? The Guardians or Wild Jack. Want a real YA dystopia? Let me recommend Empty World

Christopher's adult stuff is less good - apart from The Death of Grass (aka No Blade of Grass in the US), which is rightfully a classic, you can definitely skip his early stuff (e.g. The Possessors is, in many ways, problematic even for its time). A Wrinkle In The Skin is dated, but stands up fine amongst the disaster genre of the time. His last novel - Bad Dreams - is only OK-to-good, gets into some interesting ideas, but ultimately leaves me a little disturbed simply because I'm not sure what his authorial intent was in respect to the overarching 'villain'…
posted by Pinback at 2:25 AM on April 17 [3 favorites]


Oooh I forgot about reading this in Boys Life.
Boys Life Full Run Found!
The White Mountains!
The City of Gold and Lead!!
The Pool of Fire!!!
posted by Nanukthedog at 8:42 AM on April 17


The stuff in Boys' Life was pretty heavy for ten year old Josh71. Later on when I read the books synopsis' I was kind of blown away that this was in Boy's Life.
posted by josher71 at 9:58 AM on April 17


Agreed. The City of Gold and and Lead was pretty much nightmare fuel served once a month - read religiously, but nightmare fuel.
posted by Nanukthedog at 10:41 AM on April 17 [1 favorite]


This post was getting me excited about sharing these books with my daughter. Thank you for reining in my enthusiasm.


Don't worry, there's the other John Christopher novels where uh... girls um... (frantically searches through John Christopher collection) well....

Err...

Moving right along, if you'd like 70s YA science fiction featuring clever, strong-willed girls, can I suggest H. M. Hoover? The Rains of Eridan and The Bell Tree involve treks across alien landscapes, while Children of Morrow and The Delikon feature post-apocalyptic societies- plus The Delikon has alien overlords imposing a pre-industrial lifestyle. Finally, This Time of Darkness and Return to Earth both deal with escaping a dystopia. That pretty much covers all your John Christopher bases.

I know it's something of a derail, but for 70s YA SF that features active women, John Christopher just isn't the person to go to. And it's not as though liths haven't noticed that as well : Salon, James Nicoll.
posted by happyroach at 11:39 AM on April 17 [5 favorites]


Don't worry, there's the other John Christopher novels where uh... girls um... (frantically searches through John Christopher collection) well....
Empty World? The last 1/4 or so of the book features two girls who are basically smarter, more worldly, & probably more emotionally resilient, parallels of the protagonist Neil

(Granted, one of them is a little … uh, 'possessive' …)

There's also Blodwen in the second half of the Sword of the Spirits trilogy, who is much more than the cipher or simple plot excuse than she might first appear to be.

I only mention these because they're the exceptions that prove the rule. Poor old Sam Youd struggled with female characters, and it's especially evident in his earlier mainstream/adult stuff. But I give him some credit for eventually realising that & mostly avoiding the issue in his YA books.
posted by Pinback at 4:32 PM on April 17 [1 favorite]


The Death of Grass (aka No Blade of Grass in the US), which is rightfully a classic

If I recall correctly, I bailed out on that one after a girl travelling with the party is raped and the general (and strongly implied to be the authorly) opinion is that she should be grateful they find her of any use at all. I think I skimmed on a bit to see if there was anything more complex to it, but what women there were, were all just cardboard set dressing and victims.
posted by tavella at 4:39 PM on April 17 [1 favorite]


I wouldn't put it anywhere near as bluntly or simplistically as that. It was an opinion, stated by one character who was painted from the beginning as an arsehole and brought into the group and tolerated because he was their Official Hard Man and Useful Arsehole, that pretty much appalled everyone else in the group.

Overall, though, it did contribute - as did lots of other unpleasant stuff - to the hardening & moral/ethical degradation of everyone in the group, culminating in several murders (justified as "it was them or us") and eventually the protagonist attacking his own brother's farm/sanctuary. None of which is presented as "authorly opinion" - it's pretty clear the author is simply telling a horrifying tale that starts with premise A and is grimly marching to inevitable conclusion Z.

In fact, I don't think there's ever much "authorly opinion" in Christopher's books. He's simply telling a story and, for all his other faults, the man could write deftly, clearly, & succinctly. In fact the big problem I have with Bad Dreams, which I touched on above, is down to exactly that - I can't tell whether the English nationalism and anti-German / anti-EU sentiments that come to a head & are pretty much hammered home at the end of the book are simply the story, or whether it's an unusual case of him inserting his own opinions.
posted by Pinback at 5:40 PM on April 17 [1 favorite]


_The White Mountains_ spoke to a central terror of childhood: you become aware that you are a conscious being in a world where everyone goes mentally vacant or insane at the age of puberty. The second and third novels were glorious dessert and as a kid I loved the details of the hot, heavy domed city and was creeped out by the slavish devotion of the Capped. Looking back though I think they were comforting distractions from what made the first book profoundly great.

The books do hold up for me. Re-reading them as an adult I noticed how spare they were. The pictures they made in my head as a kid were huge, and years later I could see the small brushstrokes the author had used to start my own imaginary landscape: the sign in Will's hideout (lect city), the taste of the moldy leather strap he bites down on when they cut the button out of his armpit.
posted by ssr_of_V at 10:24 PM on April 17 [4 favorites]


I loved reading the comic strips in Boys Life every month, though when I started the series it was already well into the story. Then, on a glorious Saturday morning browsing garage sales with my Mom, I found a giant stack of old Boys Life magazines for a few dollars. I loved getting to go back and read the series from the first issue it ran... and such a joy to see these all collected!

Which brings me to another question: Have these comic strips ever been collected and published as a graphic novel???
posted by ToucanDoug at 9:47 AM on April 19


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