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Book Title: The White Mountains|
Date of issue: 1970
ISBN 13: 9780020427100
The author of the book: John Christopher
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 998 KB
Edition: Collier Books/Macmillan Publishing (NYC)
Read full description of the books The White Mountains:A splendidly written science fiction yarn aimed at the lads and lasses but with enough clever going for it to appeal to older more seasoned readers as well. This is the second novel by John Christopher that I've had the pleasure of consuming and this gent certainly has the prose chops to spin a ripsnorter of a story. My previous experience, the dark, disturbing and fantabulous The Death of Grass), is one of the more under-appreciated apocalyptic SF books I have come across and I HIGHLY RECOMMEND it.
Here's the bill of fare for this literary meal.
Earth of the 22nd Century has been reduced to a few million bodies living a pre-industrial, pastoral existence maintained through subsistence farming. The seemingly content, unmotivated population is controlled by mysterious giant, three-legged machines known as Tripods**, whom the adults in the community worship and revere. Precisely who or what are the Tripods? That's the central mystery which is slowly unveiled (though not completely) during the course of the story. However, the reader quickly learns that the Tripods are the cause of Earth’s current, post-apocalyptic predicament.
The cornerstone celebration of the communities in the story is "Capping Day," so named because every child, upon reaching the age of 14, is taken by the Tripods and returned with a metal cap implanted on their skull. Uh...Houston...we may have a problem. This event marks the transition for the youth from childhood to adulthood and the moment when they take their place as full members of the community.
I don't want to spoil anything for you, but I think it's safe to say that all is not well in the land of the metal hats.
Our main character is Will, a 13 year-old boy months away from being given his metal toupee. Initially, Will is eager for his Capping Day to arrive but this all changes after a not-so-chance meeting with a vagrant named Ozymandias. Ozy reveals to Will the dark, sinister nature of both the caps and the Tripods and this fateful meeting reconfigures Will’s entire worldview. Suddenly he begins to notice the subtle “wrongness” of the people, including his parents, and vows to escape.
Ozymandias explains to Will that there is a small but growing group of people that are determined to fight back against the Tripods and offers Will the chance to join the resistance if he can make it all the way to the titular White Mountains. Thus begins Will's adventure during which he faces danger, excitement and a number of nasty Tripods.
Christopher has a spare, breezy to read writing style that I really enjoyed. Despite being less than 200 pages long, the author does a magnificent job defining Will’s world. Christopher manages to convey significant information to the reader without resorting to rambling or overly prolix infodumps. This is a quality I really enjoy in SF books from this period which is epitomized in the works of Jack Vance and Roger Zelazny. This story as a whole is not in the class of the aforementioned, but his lack of circumlocution while telling his story is worth noting.
For all the positive things I have to say about the story, something about it didn’t connect sufficiently with me to be able to grant a loftier rating than 3 stars. I enjoyed the story, I liked the characters and I am curious to see where the next novels venture. For all that, I found myself a bit detached too from the narrative and was never swept away. I was very aware that I was reading and never fell into the world the author created.
I’m not sure why, but it happened. Maybe I’m defective. Regardless of the reason, I can only give this 3 stars, but I would still highly recommend it to my fellow readers, especially those that enjoy YA science fiction.
3.0 stars. Highly Recommended.
** I’m sorry, but ever since Austin Power’s Goldmember I can not hear the word Tripod without thinking of the classic scene between Michael Caine and Mini Me:
I know….I’m a child and I need help, but that is some funny sauce.
Read information about the authorSam Youd was born in Lancashire in April 1922, during an unseasonable snowstorm.
As a boy, he was devoted to the newly emergent genre of science-fiction: ‘In the early thirties,’ he later wrote, ‘we knew just enough about the solar system for its possibilities to be a magnet to the imagination.’
Over the following decades, his imagination flowed from science-fiction into general novels, cricket novels, medical novels, gothic romances, detective thrillers, light comedies … In all he published fifty-six novels and a myriad of short stories, under his own name as well as eight different pen-names.
He is perhaps best known as John Christopher, author of the seminal work of speculative fiction, The Death of Grass (today available as a Penguin Classic), and a stream of novels in the genre he pioneered, young adult dystopian fiction, beginning with The Tripods Trilogy.
‘I read somewhere,’ Sam once said, ‘that I have been cited as the greatest serial killer in fictional history, having destroyed civilisation in so many different ways – through famine, freezing, earthquakes, feral youth combined with religious fanaticism, and progeria.’
In an interview towards the end of his life, conversation turned to a recent spate of novels set on Mars and a possible setting for a John Christopher story: strand a group of people in a remote Martian enclave and see what happens.
The Mars aspect, he felt, was irrelevant. ‘What happens between the people,’ he said, ‘that’s the thing I’m interested in.’
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