Trouble With Lichen
I first heard about this book in Year 10 at school, so around 1985. I must have been reading another John Wyndham book at the time, possible Day of The Triffids, when my English teacher came up to me and suggested that I read Trouble With Lichen. Well I never did get around to reading it…until now. I recently discovered this copy in a Goodwill shop, and picked it up for 50c. It’s a First Edition, First Printing, but pretty beat up being an ex-library book. Onto the story..
This is not like any other Wyndham book I have read. It is only Science Fiction in the sense that the main element of the book, a life-extending treatment derived from a rare lichen, does not exist. The technology in the book is very Sixties, but the concept of a millionaire techno-genius entrepreneur is very modern indeed. If this wasn’t written so long ago I’d swear it was about Elon Musk.
The crux is the book is a sociological conundrum…given a rare life saving treatment that cannot be mass distributed, who gets access to it? I won’t spoil the book, but will say this is worth reading if you don’t mind a slower pace…we go through patents stressing over their too smart (for society) daughter, to job interviews, to domestic arguments, with only a cursory glace at SF…But that is the point of the book, how science affects people and affects society, rather than the science itself.
So thanks Mr Cuthbertson, I finally got to read it and you were right.