cover image Logical Fantasy: The Many Worlds of John Wyndham

Logical Fantasy: The Many Worlds of John Wyndham

John Wyndham. Subterranean, $50 (424p) ISBN 978-1-64524-143-0

Wyndham (1903–1969) is best remembered for the splashy movie adaptations of his works (including Village of the Damned and The Day of the Triffids), but this impressive retrospective of 18 speculative shorts demonstrates his skill working at a more intimate scale. He finds the human side of cosmic catastrophe (“The Eternal Eve”), even when the victim is a homesick robot (“The Lost Machine”) or a lovelorn dragon (“Chinese Puzzle”). More often, his protagonists are people who find themselves caught by their own presumptions, whether scientific (“Never on Mars”) or prejudicial (“The Living Lies”). There are strong emotional currents lying just below the placid surfaces: a quiet summer day becomes fraught with unrequited love when an accidental time traveler pays a visit to the heroine of “A Stitch in Time”; and in “Pawley’s Peepholes,” boorish time travelers are given a proper reception by their irked ancestors. Michael Marshall Smith’s introduction makes a point of Wyndham’s predilection for strong female characters, which, while indeed notable for the time, may overstate his heroines’ agency in the eyes of contemporary readers. Still, Wyndham’s fantastic imagination is undeniable. Anyone looking to round out their collection of SFF classics will want to snap this up. Agent: Katy Loffman, Paper Lion Ltd. (Apr.)