British science fiction writer who worked for half a century. Adherent of social and public order, describing in his works all the horrors of his collapse
Briefly about the writer
Known to the sci-fi community under the name of John Christopher. British science fiction writer in the second half of the 20th century, best known for his novels The Death of Grass and Aliens. Often compared to John Wyndham, who also wrote on global catastrophes, Christopher spent almost his entire life working in the science fiction genre, publishing about 20 novels and more than thirty stories. He began to write after the Second World War, serving as a signalman. In his works he constantly emphasized the need for social and public order, state control and orderliness of relations in society.
The real name of the writer is Samuel Yode. Born April 16, 1922, died February 3, 2012.
Childhood and youth. Education
Samuel was born in Guyton, Lancashire. Sam was educated at the Peter Simons School in Winchester, after which he was drafted into the army, like the vast majority of science fiction writers of those years. He served for five years in the Royal Corps of Communications (in which John Wyndham also served) from 1941 to 1946.
Creative activity and the path to fame
After being demobilized, Sam received a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, which allowed him to focus on writing. The first published works were the novel “The Winter Swan” and the story “Christmas Roses”, for which Sam took the pseudonym Christopher Yeode. Both came out in 1949.
But already in 1951, he took the pseudonym John Christopher and focused solely on science fiction. For 4 years, he wrote almost 30 stories before his second novel, The Year of the Comet, published by Michael Joseph in 1955, was released.
In 1956, the novel Death of the Grass was published, which was Sam’s first major success as a writer. This novel is considered the most famous work of Christopher, repeatedly reprinted (the last reprint was in 2009).
In 1966, John began writing science fiction for teens, using the name John Christopher in each case. The trilogies Tripods (1967-68), Lotus Caves (1969), Guardians (1970) and the Sword of Spirits trilogy (1971-72) were well received by both critics and and readers. For the Keepers, John won the Guardian Children’s Fiction annual charity award in 1971, and in 1976 received the Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis Prize (annual literature prize for teens).
In 1946, he married Joyce Fairburn, with whom he had five children (one son and four daughters). He divorced her in 1978, marrying Jessica Ball, with whom he lived until his death.
The last years of life and death
In 2001, John’s last novel, Bad Dream, was released in the first year, after which the writer retired. He died of bladder cancer on February 3, 2012.
Titles, awards and prizes
Guardian Award, 1971 // Best Children’s Book
The Guardians (1970)
Nebula / Nebula Award, 1965 // Story
→ A Few Kindred Spirits (1965)
Guardian Award, 1969 // Best Children’s Book
The Pool of Fire (1968)
Gigamesh Almanac Award / Premio Gigamesh, 1987 // Science Fiction – Roman (UK)
→ Empty World (1977)
What I wrote about, features
In all his works, John Christopher remained committed to tradition. As a true British, formed even before the revolutionary sixties, he did not want to experiment with style or touch on any particularly explosive topics. Instead, he always guaranteed the reader reliability, quality, clarity of thought and prudence, which did not cancel either intrigue, or a tightly twisted plot, or even individual, nerve-racking scenes.
He had an unusual way of working. When writing the first chapter, he did only a draft, and the next he wrote in the final form. Having finished work on the book, he returned to the introduction and rewrote it, adjusting it to future events in the book.
One case was connected with this habit of his — when Susan Hirschman became its editor, which forced him to rewrite and edit chapters sequentially as they were written, rather than skipping from end to beginning. Christopher himself later regretted that this made the novel much better than if he worked on it “as usual”.
For a long time, John worked with editor Michael Joseph, who gave the green light to another British writer, whom we wrote earlier – John Wyndham. Christopher found that he was often compared to the older and more experienced Wyndham, and often in Wyndham’s favor.