This Week in the Mercury

Monday, February 6, 2012

John Christopher, 1922-2012

Posted by Erik Henriksen on Mon, Feb 6, 2012 at 2:25 PM

Dammit. Via Jo Walton, I just found out that John Christopher, the author of, among other things, the Tripod Trilogy, died over the weekend.

I first encountered the Tripod books in fourth grade in Salt Lake City, Utah, where Mrs. Dunn read aloud each of Christopher's original three books, followed by their prequel, to our class. That kicked off a tripod and sci-fi obsession during which I read and reread and reread again all of the books. I've still got my original paperbacks, plus a box set-style cardboard sleeve for them that, when I was around 11 or 12, my dad helped me rescue from a garbage can in a bookstore in West Yellowstone, Montana. (I already had all the books, and they were going to just throw the box away.)

Going back to the books a few years ago—I think an acquaintance insisted The Hunger Games had taken quite a bit from them, thus inspiring a reread—I found I enjoyed them just as much as I'd hoped I would. (Powell's has them for cheap.) More than anything else, Christopher's exciting, melancholy series played a key role in my burgeoning nerdiness as a kid—from post-apocalyptic landscapes to big ideas to creepy aliens to character-based adventures, I can trace a lot of what I love about sci-fi back to things I first encountered in The White Mountains.

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