By Ashley R. Pollard
Let me explain my title to you. The British Home Counties surround London, where I live, and consists of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent, Surrey, and Sussex. I mention this apropos of probably the most well known of Britain’s science fiction novels: the apocalyptic War of the Worlds by Herbert George Wells.
The story is a veritable march through the Britain’s heartland, describing how the Martian tripods march from Woking in Surrey to Essex, wrecking all that’s nearest and dearest to the heart of the British people. Though I should point out that this was a very English-centred story (Scotland, Wales and Ireland are left out), and regarding the rest of the world or our former colonies, Wells has little to say.
War, arguably, was where British science fiction was born. I say "arguably" because Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s Frankenstein can probably lay claim to being the first British SF story; however, its roots seem to me to be more firmly in Gothic Horror. I believe that Wells set the scene for British SF in a way that Shelley’s story has so far not. Though perhaps now that we are in the swinging sixties, her influence will be felt more as women’s emancipation moves forward.
What is the point of all this? Why, to set the stage for the introduction of one of our latest SF writers: John Wyndham, pen name of John Wyndham Parkes Lucas Beynon Harris, also known as John Beynon and a host of other pseudonyms made through different combinations of his name.
(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)