News from the British Fantasy Society that the British author Samuel Youd, who wrote under the pen-name of John Christopher, has died.
Best known as the author of the Tripods series of young adult novels (which was dramatised by the BBC in the 1980's) and, perhaps more importantly, as the author of the bleak eco-disaster novel The Death of Grass (retitled No Blade of Grass in the USA).
Seen by some as a response to the 'cosy catastrophe' novels of John Wyndham, The Death of Grass is a powerful and relentlessly downbeat novel, that in many ways prefigures the early work of J.G Ballard and is without question one of the high water marks of British sf in the 1959's.
The novel was filmed by Cornel Wilde as No Blade of Grass in 1970 and is a fine example of Wilde's more esoteric work; staying relatively faithful to its source material while embroidering it with Wilde's trademark surrealistic touches (something that can also be seen in other Cornel Wilde films such as The Naked Prey and Beach Red).
As well as Samuel Youd and John Christopher, the author wrote under a number of other pen-names (including Stanley Winchester, Hilary Ford, William Godfrey, William Vine, Peter Graaf, Peter Nichols, and Anthony Rye) but it is for his sf that he is probably best known and admired.
His other novels included The Year of the Comet and The Caves of Night.