John Christopher (1922-2012)

Sam Youd, 89, better known by his pseudonym John Christopher, died February 3, 2012 in Bath England. As Christopher he wrote the classic SF catastrophe novel The Death of Grass (1956; in the US as No Blade of Grass, 1957), and the YA trilogy Tripods, which began in 1967.

His first publication of genre interest was poem “Dreamer” in Weird Tales (1949) as C.S. Youd, with first SF story “Christmas Tree” appearing as Christopher Youd in 1949. His story “A Few Kindred Spirits” (1965), as John Christopher, was a Nebula finalist.

First novel The Winter Swan (1949), as Christopher Youd, was fantasy, and he produced a number of non-SF works in the following years under various names.

The Twenty-Second Century (1954) collected some of his SF stories, and his first true SF novel was The Year of the Comet (1955; in the US as Planet in Peril, 1959), all as John Christopher. Other adult SF work includes The Long Winter (1962; as The World in Winter), Sweeney’s Island (1964; as Cloud and Silver in the UK), The Possessors (1965), A Wrinkle in the Skin (1965; as The Ragged Edge in the US, 1966), The Little People (1966), Pendulum (1968), and Bad Dream (2003).

He turned to children’s SF and fantasy with The White Mountains (1967), beginning the Tripods series, which also includes The City of Gold and Lead (1967), The Pool of Fire (1968), and prequel When the Tripods Came (1988). He also wrote The Prince in Waiting series, the Fireball series, and numerous standalones for children.

Born April 16, 1922 in Huyton, Lancaster, Lancashire, Youd attended Peter Symonds’ School in Winchester, Hampshire before serving in the Royal Corps of Signals from 1941-46. He became a full-time writer in 1958.

For more, see his entry in the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.

A complete obituary will appear in the March issue of Locus Magazine.