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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