Monday, June 23, 2008

18. The Possessors by John Christopher

The Possessors Island picture

That's right, we're all John Christopher, all the time here at Olmansfifty. Actually and sadly, this is the last John Christopher book (at least in english) in the Bibliotheque Nationale. There is a mystery of his written under a pseudonym that is stored off-site and which I have ordered as well. I'll scour the tattered remains of the english library system in Montreal, but my initial searches were fruitless. He also hasn't shown up in used book stores here or Toronto. Even the tripod trilogy is not all that easy to find.

The Possessors is the story of a group of people snowed into a Swiss ski lodge in the early 60s, who are slowly taken over by an alien parasite. It starts off in a very similar way to Sweeney's Island, with a group of mostly British bourgeoisie. It looked like Christopher was going to savage them in a similar way and I was a bit concerned that we were heading into repetitive territory. Both The Possessors and Sweeney's Island were published within a year of each other. Happily, The Possessors veers away from such a similar theme of social critique (which was good in Sweeney's Island, good enough that I didn't need it a second time) and heads towards a straight-up alien invasion thriller. And it was a really good one. A nice balance of character-driven behaviour and general efficiency. People who made mistakes did so because it made sense based on who they were, not just because they were stupid. The stakes are high and the challenges higher, so you are sweating for the protagonists. And they figure out the general outline of the situation quickly enough without spending a lot of useless time not believing. Tight and gripping, The Possessors is a great little novel of alien invasion. Snag it if you find it.

1 comment:

Buzby said...

Awesome! I am looking forward to this one too. What was his other pen name?