Samuel Youd — RIP

The name Samuel Youd is not that most anyone would immediately recognize. Even I didn’t at first.

However, his pseudonym of John Christopher would be immediately recognized by SF fans anywhere. That was the name used for the author of a large number of SF novels, including the YA trilogy known under the collective name as the “Tripods”. The Tripods trilogy (“The White Mountains”, “The City of Gold and Lead”, and “The Pool of Fire”) was about an Earth that was conquered by aliens who moved about the world in almost “War of the Worlds” tripods. To control the populace, everyone was “capped” at the age of 14 with a metal device that maintained the aliens’ control over humanity. But not all humanity: an underground movement, employing agents wearing fake “caps” recruited young men to act as undercover agents, eventually able to infiltrate the alien base and provide the information to restore humanity.

There was also a prequel novel, “When the Tripods Came”, published in 1988, almost 20 years after the first publication of the first book of the trilogy. This novel finally disclosed how the alien “Masters” first conquered the world: through a hypnotic television program called “The Trippy Show” that reduced resistance to the alien conquest.

Samuel Youd’s career was not limited to just these stories: he was a prolific writer who used several pseudonyms as well as his own name. Other than the “Tripods” series, he is best remembered for his post-apocalyptic novel The Death of Grass, the second work published under his John Christopher pseudonym, in 1956.

Trivia:

  • The trilogy was adapted as a comic strip in the venerable “Boy’s Life” magazine, from May, 1981, through August, 1986.
  • The first two books of the trilogy would eventually be translated to television by the BBC, but the third book never got past the script stage.

Reference:

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