The man responsible for an unforgettable part of many people’s childhoods has passed beyond the Rim this week. John Christopher, the British science fiction writer who penned the “Tripods” series, has passed away at the age of 89, owing to complications of bladder cancer.
Christopher was probably best known for the aforementioned “Tripods” trilogy, which encompassed The White Mountains, The City of Gold and Lead, and The Pool of Fire. The series has been a staple of many a young science fiction fan, and was turned into a BBC TV series back in the ’80s. The Tripods books were hardly Christopher’s only work, however. The prolific writer’s bibliography also includes two other young-adult trilogies and 13 novels. Unbeknownst to many (including me until just now), Christopher was actually a pen name for Christopher Youd, and it wasn’t the only time he wrote under an assumed name. Over the course of his career he also wrote as Stanley Winchester, Hilary Ford, William Godfrey, William Vine, Peter Graaf, Peter Nichols and Anthony Rye.
Despite having torn through a closetful of my dad’s old science fiction novels over the course of my adolescence, I somehow never got around to reading the “Tripods” books. I remember first hearing about them, in junior high I believe, and thinking, “Wow, that sounds like my kind of thing.” But for whatever reason, they slipped back below my radar. I know they’re beloved to tons of people, several of my friends included, so I’m sure Christopher’s passing will sadden many. As for me, I’m making a vow to finally read the “Tripods” books in a few years…once my sons are old enough to enjoy them.
You can read an excellent and thorough obituary of Christopher in the New York Times.