Follow TV Tropes


Creator / John Christopher

Go To
" In writing I think I’ve been more attracted by the thought of what happens after the catastrophe."

Christopher Samuel Youd (born Sam Youd, 16 April 1922 – 3 February 2012) was an English author best known for his science fiction published under the name of John Christopher. His works include The Death of Grass, The Tripods series, the Sword of the Spirits trilogy (The Prince In Waiting, Beyond the Burning Lands, The Sword of the Spirits), Dom and Va, and A Dusk of Demons.

Several of his novels have been filmed. The Tripods was adapted for television, although the series was cancelled before getting to the last book.

His works with their own trope pages include:

His other works provide examples of:

  • After the End:
    • The Year of the Comet is technically an example, set after World War III, but civilization has already fully recovered by the time of the events of the novel.
    • The Sword of the Spirits is a straight example, with society having turned into a medieval-like state in Britain due to a past disaster.
  • And Man Grew Proud: This attitude is rigidly on display in the Sword of the Spirits trilogy, but subverted when it is eventually revealed the disaster that shattered the world was a purely natural one and not caused in any way by man's technology or hubris.
  • Anti-Hero: His protagonists are often flawed; Luke in the Sword of the Spirits is a particular example.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: In Beyond the Burning Land, Luke fights and kills the Bayemot (a giant ameoba-like creature) by striking at the nucleus deep inside its body with a sword.
  • Author Appeal: He evidently had a fondness for The Channel Islands, they often appear as settings in his stories.
  • Chick Magnet: The protagonist of The Year of the Comet is an understated version of this; he has at least three women fall for him in the course of the novel; with two of them it's a case of Becoming the Mask. He loves and marries the third.
  • Covers Always Lie: One cover of A Wrinkle in the Skin shows some wrecked jumbo jets, which never appear in the novel.
  • Cosy Catastrophe: He wrote numerous post-apocalyptic novels: The Death of Grass (disease wipes out all grasses, including those that are staple foods for humans), The World in Winter (an ice age), Empty World (pandemic) and A Wrinkle in the Skin (earthquakes)... but Youd's reputation for dipping into this trope is somewhat unfair, in many of these novels things get pretty gritty for the protagonists. The Death of Grass in particular is one long grim ruthless scrabble to reach a safe haven in the English countryside.
  • Comet of Doom: The Year of the Comet has, yes, a comet pass near post-World War III Earth. It becomes the symbol of a new apocalyptic world-wide religion which is deliberately fostered by Israel as part of its world take-over plan.
  • Earthquakes Cause Fissures: A Wrinkle in the Skin has minor examples of this with its world-wide civilization-destroying earthquakes, but along with turning most buildings to rubble, the real damage is that vast chunks of the Earth's crust shift around, causing the oceans to slosh into all-new configurations. (The protagonist walks across a drained English Channel.)
  • Evil Luddite: In the Sword of the Spirits trilogy, most of civilization was destroyed by a worldwide ecological disaster. In what's left of England, all post-medieval technology is forbidden and anyone trying to use science is put to death. It turns out that people in Wales don't share this attitude, and by the end of the trilogy, 20th century level technology is rapidly returning to at least that part of the world.
  • Feudal Future: The Sword of the Spirits series is set mostly in England and Wales, centuries after a nuclear-war-like natural disaster. England is a bunch of warring city states ruled by princes, but with a dominant anti-technology religion in which people worship Spirits. Christians are an oppressed minority, and mutants are a lower caste.
  • Gaia's Lament: The omnipresent Big Bad of The Death of Grass is the Chung-Li virus, which wipes out all the grasses and crops on Earth.
  • Ghost City: London in Empty World.
  • Grows on Trees: In The Lotus Caves, the protagonists find a cave filled with plant life that responds to their desires. This includes a tree that reshapes itself to be a diving board over their swimming hole.
  • I Believe That You Believe It: In The Death of Grass, Roger tells Pirrie about a defensible farm in a valley.
    "And now?" John pressed him. "Do you believe us?"
    Pirrie sighed. "I believe that you believe it."
  • I Have a Family: A rapist in The Death of Grass tries to pull this defense when his victim gets him at gun-point. Unsurprisingly, she shoots him.
  • It's the Only Way to Be Sure: In The Death of Grass the British government decides to nuke cities to minimize the number of starving refugees that would otherwise roam across the countryside. Though everything falls apart before the plan can actually be carried out.
  • Knockout Gas: The two protagonists of Year of the Comet get hit with this twice, and then are bludgeoned unconscious as well.
  • Lightning Can Do Anything: In Fireball two cousins are transported to ancient Rome (later revealed to be an alternate timeline) by what they assume to be some form of ball lightning.
  • Lost Technology: In the Sword of the Spirits, it turns out that the heads of "the Spirits" religion have preserved what they could of pre-disaster technology.
  • Market-Based Title: Several of his novels were given different titles in the United States. No Blade of Grass, the US title of The Death of Grass, went on to be used as the title of the film adaptation.
  • Mayor of a Ghost Town: The protagonist of the post-pandemic London of Empty World.
  • Nasty Party: In The Prince in Waiting, the protagonist's father (ruler of the city where the action is set) is invited to a gathering and murdered.
  • One Nation Under Copyright: The Year of the Comet has a post-World War III world being ruled by competing mega-corporations, each of which controls a particular field: mining, chemical production, atomic energy and so forth. The only country that still exists is Israel.
  • Pinball Protagonist: Charles Grayner in The Year of the Comet is a scientist who gets rather passively bounced around between various competing corporate factions, along with the cheerful pot-stirring of his malcontent friend Hiram Dinkhuhl.
  • Possessive Paradise: The Lotus Caves, which shares a number of thematic similarities with the The Tripods books.
  • Saharan Shipwreck: In A Wrinkle in the Skin, massive earthquakes redistribute the balance of ocean and land, and the protagonist comes across a large tanker sitting in the desert which used to be the English Channel.
  • Take Over the World: This is what Israel does at the end of The Year of the Comet.