Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Review: Cloud on Silver by John Christopher

Genre: Literary Fiction

A disparate group of Londoners are brought together by Sweeney, a mysteriously charismatic man of wealth, for a luxury cruise in the South Pacific – they know not why. Sailing far from the normal shipping routes, the ship weighs anchor just off an uninhabited tropical island. Whilst its passengers are ashore exploring, the ship catches fire and sinks beneath the waves. 

With no means of communication with the outside world and no hope of rescue, passengers and crew must find a way to survive. In the scramble for power that ensues, the distinction between master and servant becomes meaningless as the more ruthless among them clamber to the top. 

The inscrutable Sweeney, meanwhile, sits alone on a hillside. Coolly aloof, he watches the veneer of civilization disintegrate as his fellows fall prey to fear, desperation, and barbarity.

Sam 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 recently enjoyed The White Voyage by John Christopher, so I thought I’d give his latest novel a try. As with The White Voyage, this novel deals with the social interactions within a small group of marooned travelers, but unlike the previous story, the action that cuts them off from the civilized world is no accident.
Once again, I enjoyed the author’s writing style, filled with fresh imagery and believable dialogue. Taken at face value, the characters could be seen as hard to believe, but the author develops their idiosyncrasies in such a gradual and believable manner that I found myself agreeing that, yes, this is exactly how they would act. I particularly enjoyed Lydia’s decent to her basest personality.
The story has many similarities to Golding’s Lord of The Flies. And although the ending seemed rather rushed to me and left open questions about Sweeny’s motives that would have been interesting to explore, this was an enjoyable read, and the journey more than made up for that minor quibble. 

Buy now from:            Kindle US     Kindle UK

English spelling.

Format/Typo Issues:

Rating:  **** Four Stars

Reviewed by: Pete Barber

Print Length: 239 pages


Anonymous said...

Delightful to learn that John Christopher is still writing. I loved his Tripod books. Surely they were a major influence on the 'Falling Skies' SF drama series. And, of course, fabulous (if short-lived) TV series on their own account.

?wazithinkin said...

Thanks for dropping in and commenting, judimoore.