Sam Youd wrote more than half of his 57 published novels while living in Guernsey; and it was the island of Guernsey that specifically inspired both Sarnia (the first of his gothic romances under the pen name Hilary Ford) and A Wrinkle in the Skin.
Sam wrote under a number of names, including his own. As John Christopher, he became particularly renowned as a writer of dystopian fiction: his novel The Death of Grass – the basis for the film No Blade of Grass – is still available today as a Penguin Modern Classic. He also pioneered the Young Adult dystopian fiction genre with a stream of books for younger readers, starting with The Tripods series (later filmed by the BBC), which he wrote in Guernsey.
His work has been regarded as prescient, with The Death of Grass – in which humanity must contend with the destruction of all varieties of the grass family (including wheat, oats, maize, rye and rice) – resonating particularly for its ecological message; and The Tripods for its emphasis on the value of freedom of thought. As an article in The New Yorker (2017) stated:
‘Rereading [The Tripods] today, though, what’s most striking is its ultimate lesson … Since the Presidential election last November, many people have drawn on dystopian fiction … to explain our predicament. The implication sometimes seems to be that we can restore democracy by rising up to defeat our newly elected leader … The Tripods Trilogy makes the case that sustaining democracy is not so simple.’
The SYLE Press was established in 2013 with the aim of keeping in print the works of Sam Youd. On Friday 3rd May, in a Guernsey Literary Festival event, Nick Youd and Rose Youd will be talking about John Christopher, his novels and the Guernsey years, and launching the new edition of A Wrinkle in the Skin, in which Guernsey is devastated by a seismic cataclysm …
John Christopher in Guernsey – 13.00-14.00 on Friday 3 May 2019, Hayward Gallery, Guille-Allès Library, St Peter Port, Guernsey
Tickets free from https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/event/300621
For further information: www.thesylepress.com
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