WHEN THE TRIPODS CAME BY JOHN CHRISTOPHER

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Copyright 1988.

Lawrence Cordray is a fourteen year old who is one of the first to see the Tripods. While camping out in Dartmoor he and his friend witness one of the invading alien machines. It destroys a farmhouse and scoops up the farmer for dissection. The army destroys it along with the other two that landed in Montana and Kazakhstan. Mankinds first encounter seems to end on a very anti-climactic event. Only later a new TV show called the Tripods becomes popular around the world. It has a hypnotic effect on many people. Called Trippies they run away and form their own groups. When the Tripods land their are millions of Trippie followers that manufacture caps that enslave even more people. Laurie and his family are forced to flee England after that country falls for Switzerland. There they find shelter with his Swiss stepmother in a country free of the Tripods. It doesn’t last as the capped armies of France and Germany invade. Switzerland falls and the people forced to wear caps. Laurie and his family flee to the mountains to start a resistance to fight the alien invaders.

Twenty years after his Tripod Trilogy Christopher decided to release a prequel. A story that shows how the Tripods managed to take over the Earth. Now like any prequel you know the ending. Just like Anakin becomes Vader. Still you read a prequel to see how something started. This prequel does a very good job of showing how the Tripods first came to Earth and took over. How the resistance in the White Mountains came about. A good supplement to the original trilogy and very enjoyable.

THE POOL OF FIRE BY JOHN CHRISTOPHER

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Copyright 1968.

Will Parker has found out the plans of the Tripods. Now the resistance has to stop them from terraforming the Earth in four years. So they step up their drive to recruit the young uncapped. Will and Fritz, who managed to also escape the Tripod city, are assigned to travel through Europe and the Middle East. They eventually get involved with capturing a Tripod alive. Through an accident with the food they discover that the Tripods are vulnerable to alcohol. So three groups are formed to infiltrate the three Tripod cities. There they smuggle in a still and the ingredients to ferment large quantities of alcohol to put in the water. Will is part of the group in the German city. They succeed and turn off the mind control signal freeing the humans in that part of the world. The Chinese group also succeeds but the city in Panama is a failure. Airplanes the resistance has are knocked out by EMP. So an attack by balloons is mounted. Will’s friend Henry sacrifices his life to destroy the third city. So with the Earth free there is great promise for the future. Will it be a united front or one marred by division.

The third book in the trilogy is probably the weakest. It seems to read like more of a narration of the events then giving you a feel of actually being there. The first part sort of drags. Also the whole part of them sneaking into the cities and getting the Tripods drunk is a bit goofy. Still it gives us a satisfying conclusion to the story. The Tripods are destroyed and the Earth is free. It also had a realistic ending with the various nations of man going their own way. The end has our three main protagonists pledging to work to unite the planet. Christopher I hear is known for some pessimistic ending but I thought this one had an optimistic one. Leaves the reader wondering if humanity will get it’s act together.

Christopher would twenty years later revisit this world with a prequel. Which I will do next week. So see you than.

THE CITY OF GOLD AND LEAD BY JOHN CHRISTOPHER

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Copyright 1967.

Will Parker and his friends have made it to the White Mountains and the resistance group that lives there. In this future Earth where the Tripods now dominate. Will with two others are chosen to compete in the annual games in Germany. Three winners are taken into the Tripod city. Will with his friend Beanpole and Fritz travel to compete. Will and Fritz are two of the winners and are taken into the city. There they are assigned as personal slaves to a Tripod. The aliens are reveled to be huge reptiles. The high gravity environment ensures that the human slaves will only last for two to four years. While Fritz gets a master that likes to torture him, Will gets a kind master. The Tripod treats him like his dog. As his slave he finds out the history of how the Tripods conquered Earth. He also finds out that they plan to terraform the Earth in four years. Soon humanity and all life will be extinct. So now Will and his companion Fritz must escape the city to warn the resistance.

The second book in the trilogy gives us a look at the Tripods. Who they are and why they conquered Earth. They also give us a brief history of how they conquered the Earth. Seems they used TV signals to brainwash enough people to help them take over. Kind of an amusing idea. I always found this such a creepy book in how they have so successfully gained control of the minds of humans. The slaves are totally devoted to their masters and will actually go to The Place of Happy Release when they feel they can no longer serve their masters. The Place of Happy Release is where they kill and dispose of the slaves. I found it an interesting and unique idea to have the aliens conquer and control us my using mind control. The second in the trilogy is the best of the books. It was enjoyable, exciting and established the approaching threat to Earth.

THE WHITE MOUNTAINS BY JOHN CHRISTOPHER

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Copyright 1967.

Will Parker is a thirteen year old living in the English village of Wherton. Only he is living in a future where the Tripods now rule the Earth. When a person turns fourteen they are Capped by the Tripods. This makes people docile and obedient to the Tripods. Will has doubts about the benevolence of these aliens. Especially after the change that takes place in his best friend. One day a vagrant those that the Capping damages wanders to the village. Only the man who calls himself Ozymandias is actually an uncapped man. He travels looking for young recruits to join a resistance based in the White Mountains in Switzerland. Will decides to leave his village and join them after hearing the truth. He is joined by his cousin Henry. In France they also join up with a young boy who they name Beanpole. The three boys journey through the country and see the marvels of the ruined city of Paris. They have some adventures and manage to destroy a Tripod before reaching the White Mountains and the resistance.

Some thirty plus years ago I was looking for something to watch on a Saturday afternoon. At the local Ma and Pa video rental place I found the first season of the BBC adaptation on one VHS tape. I found it an interesting and enjoyable story so decided to get the original trilogy it was based on. This is actually an early YA series before they were known as YA. Teenagers in a future dystopia. A fascinating idea about aliens conquering Earth and implanting caps on them so they are obedient. John Christopher is the pen name of Sam Youd, an English writer with many post-apocalypse books to his credit. It is said that he has ending the world in every combination possible. I will have to check them out in the future.

The BBC series is available on YouTube for free.