John Christopher Message Board
Alan posts on 7/20/2008 4:03:58 PM
Robert, the point I guess I'm making is that in most narrative tales, a resolution to the circumstances is normally seen as the end especially in these modern times. I am struggling to think of a modern film where the arc of the protagonists has been the start and end of the story but rather it would be neatly fitted with the wider circumstances. A good example might be 'The Birds' where no explanation is given and no solution is found to homicidal birds attacking humans. If that was made today then the film would have offered a reason for the behaviour and a solution 3 minutes from the end. I went to see War of the Worlds by Spielberg which I thought was a marvellously grim adaptation of the novel but thought how much more interesting would it have been if they had just found some sort of sanctuary (a la Death of Grass) without resolving the issue of the Earth being dominated and subjugated. That's why I enjoy Sam's novels so much because easy solutions are not found and the messy reality of real relationships are preferred to glossy happy endings. I agree with Sam that the novels mentioned do have complete character arcs but there is the potential for the situation to be exploited further. I find it tremendous that this wasn't done because he felt the purpose of the tales had been accomplished regardless of what could have been commercially rung from the scenarios. Almost needless to say, I find it wonderful that my imagination is free to speculate the future of the characters. Empty World was the book that first turned me onto reading and a run of the mill sequel would have removed that sense of awe and wonderment at its utterly unexpected solution. But it still didn't stop me being surprised there was no sequel as other books I'd read up to that point would have had one especially with such a rich story.
Robert posts on 7/20/2008 1:49:59 PM
Boy, am I in a cheering mood now. I've managed to finally track down not one, but three magazines containing JC short stories that didn't make it into The Twenty-Second Century. I now have "Socrates", "Talent for the Future", and "Man of Destiny". Plus there are some other top-name writers in these mags. Looks like I've got some good reading ahead. +++
Interesting discussions going on here. I've always felt that the story arcs in The Death of Grass, World in Winter, and Empty World were finished. The novels from the beginning were about the protagonists struggling within new social, economic, and political worlds, so it's fitting that the novels end where the protagonists' stories end, rather than approaching those post-apocalyptic worlds from other perspectives.
Sam Youd posts on 7/14/2008 11:40:52 AM
Chris: no, I never had any other end in view for Cloud (Ragged Edge in the US). I wrote it after reading and not much liking Lord of the Flies. I mistrusted Golding's psychology and cheekily attempted an adult version, with Sweeney as the local manipulative god and the scientific experiment as providing the cutting edge to his whimsy. Glad you liked it: not many did (or do). Sam
Chris posts on 7/14/2008 7:13:55 AM
Sam: I've been following with interest your conversation with Alan regarding the conclusions of your stories, and a thought occurs. I've just finished reading the magnificent 'Cloud on Silver', and it strikes me that you could have opted for a very different ending (i.e. one in which the island experiment had not been discontinued, with an attendant set of terrible implications for your characters). Did you ever consider this option, or was it clear to you from early on that you would end the story in the way you did (a more conclusive ending, perhaps, and one that allowed the novel's bigger, existential questions to remain at the fore)? Apologies once again if you've already answered this question elsewhere!
Sam Youd posts on 7/14/2008 6:10:14 AM
Alan: you are perceptive about Fireball. In the case of The White Mountains (my first YA), I only knew that, if if were accepted, there would need to be some sort of continuation. Following that, Sword was actually conceived as a trilogy. But Fireball was intended as a one-off. It was only later I worked out that while Europe had remained static under an enduring Roman empire, the rest of the world might offer interesting changes. As far as the other titles you mention are concerned, there are two narratives and in each case the inner more personal one has been resolved by the end of the book. With the (larger?) external narrative I'm quite happy to leave the readers to their own speculations. (You might have included The Lotus Caves: what would have ensued in the conflict between mankind generally and the Plant? The point is that the boys have made their decision and chosen freedom of thought over mindless contentment). I did at one point consider a sequel to Empty World. but there again the basic point -- the vital need for relationships -- had been made. Thanks for bringing it up though. Sam
Alan posts on 7/13/2008 6:11:06 AM
Sam, I've always had the impression that the Tripods and Prince trilogies were planned that way from the start but was never sure that you intended Fireball to extend that way. Were you ever tempted to reopen events from certain books that were successful to see how the stories developed? Not being in a position to know, I have always assumed Empty World must have been pretty successful and the ending does give scope for continuation? The same goes for other works such as DoG, World in Winter, Guardians, Wrinkle in the Skin, Bad Dream. Was the decision not to commercial or artistic?
Sam Youd posts on 7/11/2008 7:16:57 AM
Alan: Oddly enough someone else recently raised the point of "the story going on after the book's end" in my fiction. I've always myself liked the notion of continuation or unresolved problems -- can maybe date it back as far as early teens in the 30s and Stanley Weinbaum's "Martian Odyssey" in Wonder Stories -- though I'm not consciously aware of doing it. "Of Polymuf Stock" derived from a request to contribute to an anthology not long after writing the Sword trilogy. As to other names, a daughter recently drew my attention to John Christopher as the author of "Brunel's Kingdom": again nothing to do with me. Sam
Alan posts on 7/10/2008 4:04:07 PM
Thanks Sam, I am trying to make sure that I haven't missed anything from your back catalogue and some of the pseudonyms can overlap with other writers! Just found a short story 'Of Polymuf Stock' which is obviously based in the same world as the Prince trilogy (even refers to characters in the novels). Did you ever do this with other short stories or was this idea just too tempting to leave alone. Also I have noticed with a fair few of your books that the telling of the tale ends before the story arc is really finished such as DoG, World in Winter, Empty World, Wrinkle in Skin, Bad Dream etc. Is this something you have always aimed to do to make sure the reader leaves the book wanting to know more? Personally I find it resonates far, far more with me than other books where everythings tied up neatly with a bow by the last page!
Anonymous posts on 7/9/2008 9:18:35 AM
Alan: I've had no non-fiction published. I did write one novel as by Anthony Rye, and I believe the real Anthony Rye published poetry and possibly non-fiction -- that's maybe where it started. Nothing certainly as John Christopher. Sam
Alan posts on 7/8/2008 3:42:36 PM
Sam, I read on another website that you did a non-fiction book on Piedmont and the English in 1967. Or is confusion with the Private on Parade author?
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