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Trouble With Lichen
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Trouble With Lichen

3.62 of 5 stars 3.62  ·  rating details  ·  2,129 ratings  ·  105 reviews
A satirical and fantastical foray into world of biochemistry and the discovery of the cure for aging. An outstanding, classic science fiction text.
Paperback, 208 pages
Published May 31st 1973 by Penguin Books Ltd (first published 1960)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Nikki
Trouble with Lichen didn't strike me as quite as readable as Wyndham's other books, but the prominence of female characters/concerns was a welcome surprise. The plot is a bit different to Wyndham's other books, too. You might be excused, knowing Wyndham's other books, for thinking that this is a book about lichen taking over the world, but this isn't one of his post-apocalyptic efforts.

If you've enjoyed Wyndham's other stuff, this is a bit different, but equally enjoyable, I think. The science i
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Robert
I read several Wyndham novels when I was 12 or 13 - this was one of them. My recollection of those novels was that they were enjoyable but tended to have poor endings, as if Wyndham had said what he wanted, got bored and just stopped. The exception was The Day of the Triffids which had a satisfactory ending. So how would I respond to re-reading Trouble with Lichen?

First I found it a good deal more sophisticated than memory had led me to believe: The book is a feminist tract, following the career
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Simon
When I first saw the title of this book, I thought it would be about how lichen would somehow become a danger to mankind, pose a threat that might wipe us all out. But it's not like that at all. Rather lichen offers mankind the solution to one of it's oldest problems, but the two people who discover it fear the social ramifications of it getting out.

I'm not even going to talk about the nature of the benefits this lichen offers to mankind because it's not revealed until about 25% of the way throu
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Shannon
This book was written by the guy who wrote Day of the Triffids, and we should all know what I think of that book by now [it's awesome to the power eleventy billion]. I was expecting something along similar lines – an out of control plant species runs amok, humanity is threatened, and we are forced to face the moral questions that come along with fighting for survival in an increasingly cruel world.

That’s not what Trouble With Lichen is about at all, though I did keep imagining this silent creep
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Daavid
This John Wyndham book, did not really contain anything that made me feel awesome (or even great or wonderful, for that matter), and as a result after loving his books like The Day of the Triffids, The Chrysalids, and The Midwich Cuckoos, having read through the years, this one was very much near to boring, and even skippable I should say, much like how Chocky was just prior to this about four years ago. In fact Chocky was slightly better than this!

However, still, the idea of not ageing, being t
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Lysergius
Francis Saxover and Diana Brackley, two scientists investigating a rare lichen, discover it has a remarkable property: it retards the aging process. Francis, realising the implications for the world of an ever-youthful, wealthy elite, wants to keep it secret, but Diana sees an opportunity to overturn the male status quo by using the lichen to inspire a feminist revolution. As each scientist wrestles with the implications and practicalities of exploiting the discovery, the world comes ever closer ...more
Arielle Walker
3.5

I'm fast becoming a fan of Wyndham's works. This is a lot more thought provoking than Day of the Triffids, though I will confess to enjoying it far less. Though it comes across a little preachy at times, Trouble With Lichens is nonetheless interesting, funny (at times), relevant and thought provoking, and I can honestly confess that I did not see that end coming.
Heather
Jul 01, 2007 Heather rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: feminists and feminist sympathizers
I enjoyed the fast pace of this book, which followed the evolution of a female scientist and her male counterparts facing a moral dilemma with a new biological discovery. I felt that the character development was a bit shoddy. The author also uses different characters to move the story along and it left me wanting to know more about those characters than what was provided. In general it seemed to have a short story feel. It was a very quick read, I finished it in about 4 hours. Even so, I though ...more
Nadosia Grey
Overall an ok Wyndham novel with an interesting premise but not his best. The later part of the cook dragged terribly and I felt a lot of concepts were heavily ignored in favour of what the newspapers had to say about Lichen.


Feminism
As marketed and as present within the novel, feminist concepts are at play. I liked Diana's idea of waking females into thinking about their rights after their defense of one of the most primitive--but important-- ones, namely the right to live. I wish there was mor
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Pamela Scott
OVERALL IMPRESSION

I think Trouble with Lichen is a great novel. I enjoyed reading it. Wyndham is the only science fiction writer I really enjoy. Trouble with Lichen is no exception. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

HIGHLIGHTS

I love Wyndham’s concept for Trouble with Lichen. The trouble is the lichen exists in a very small amount. Francis and Diana work for years to find a way to replicate it and grow more but never succeed. The lichen therefore can’t be given to everyone in the world. This is part of the
...more
Amanda Bolderston
I was happy to rediscover this potentially interesting story about the discovery of a cure for aging and the subsequent social upheavals moldering in my basement, unread since the "British sci-fi" period of my mid-teens. It is described on the back of my musty penguin paperback as "John Wyndham's gayest and most satirical forays into the fantastic" - which was promising! But..it sort of fizzled out after setting up the premise, leaving the frustrated reader asking "So, John....did society collap ...more
Jake Leech
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ellie Reynard
This book is unusual and intriguing. Much more essay-esque than the rest of Wyndham's stuff, and perhaps that's contributed to it's comparable lack of popularity. On the other hand, this is an unusually feminist concept and execution from a white male in the 50s. Especially one who, as far as my limited research has found, wasn't particularly know for his feminist leanings.

Could this have effected the book's readership? Possibly. And for feminism it's a highly questionable form of it. Though the
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Elizabeth Elwood
This was a quick read, breezily satirical and crisply written, with a charming heroine and an interesting hypothesis: What would happen if a lichen could be found and processed to create a potion that could slow the rate of human’s growth and extend people’s lives. Like all Whyndam’s novels, the interesting prediction of the future is eerily accurate in the foretelling of the problems that will come with progress. Written in 1960, the book is relevant today in its discussion of the implications ...more
Nicola Fantom
This is the first John Wyndham book I have read, I recognised the author whilst browsing my local library, and thought I would give him a try, having fully enjoyed the films of day of the triffids and midwich cuckoos.

I'm not sure this is considered a classic, although not old english, manners and destricriptive writing can be a little hard to grasp. Having said that it is only a very short read at 200 pages, and not small writing, so can easily be read in a few sittings.

I found the story, plot,
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Wael Mahmoud
Very naive and modest writing, maybe this isn't one of John Wyndham best works, but the man who wrote like that - even once - i can't expect any thing from him.
Yasmeen
Not 100% sure why I continue to read Wyndham, because he's a steady three star writer in my opinion. I guess there must be something there though.

I think there was a lot more that he could have worked with here; there's a lot more to be said about the ageing process and science as a whole than he went into here. I feel as though he did a better job of exploring a pretty cool idea in The Chrysalids or even The Midwich Cuckoos. This one was an extra cool idea, with a less than typical execution.

I
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Mike Franklin
I read and enjoyed a number of Wyndham books back in my teens (an enlightened English teacher gave them to me in despair of ever getting me to read anything!) and they launched my enduring love of Science Fiction. I don't remember a great deal about them and more recently (over forty years on) I have decided to return to them.

I'm pretty sure I didn't read this particular one back then which is interesting as on reading it now I find it is the first SF book I have come across that discusses prett
...more
Amy
This is one of those books where I wished I could put half a star because It's better than ok but I'm not sure that I really liked it...

Trouble With Lichen is about how two biochemists discover a lichen which can slow down a persons metabolism and then how they deal with these discoveries. Francis Saxover feels that it will be a disaster as there isn't enough of the lichen for everyone and so he decides to hide the discovery while Diana Brackley gets a job at an upscale beauty and secretly start
...more
Roddy Williams
‘It was Diana Brackley who put the milk out for the cat; who dropped a speck of lichen in it by mistake; who noticed how the lichen stopped the milk turning.

But it was Francis Saxover, the famous biochemist, who carried on from there; who developed Antigerone, the cure for ageing; who then tried to suppress a discovery which was certainly in the megaton range.

And so it was Diana Brackley who went to town with Antigerone in one of Wyndham’s gayest most satirical forays into the fantastic.’

Blurb f
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M.G. Mason
This lesser known novel from John Wyndham deals with the sudden discovery of a lichen that extends a person’s life to almost 200 years. The discoverer is a feminist who decides that the lichen provides the perfect opportunity to start a revolution to liberate women. The first half of the book is seemingly written in a tongue-in-cheek style and I found a distraction in attempting to figure out whether Wyndham is criticising elements of the feminist movement or promoting it.

The second half of the
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TwoDrinks
Although published in 1960, this book could have been written yesterday. It deals with a scientific discovery and its political and practical implications (including the inevitable greed!). The only reason I've not given it a 5-star rating is that I got lost during some of the political intrigue. In fairness, this is my fault rather than the book's, but my strict marking criteria dictate it can't get full marks!

My favourite section (which made me laugh out loud it's so relevant to the UK today)
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Simon Mcleish
Originally published on my blog here in December 2011.

John Wyndham's most famous books, The Day of the Triffids and The Midwich Cuckoos (filmed as Village of the Damned) are fairly serious stories of disasters, a theme also followed in The Kraken Wakes. The Trouble with Lichen, a later novel, is not quite in the same line, being an examination of the negative social consequences of a scientific discovery which initially seems to be a great boon to the human race. There is also a fair amount of a
...more
Mike (the Paladin)
Well, so far as I'm concerned, Day of the Triffids remains Mr. Wyndham's best work.

I decided not to go with one star as this is another book I suspect may be "a little better than it hit me". In other words a subjective rather than objective rating might drop it all the way down as it just didn't get my interest. I followed the "ethical, moral, legal mental debate. Watched the "tussle" (my word)over the "new" wonder lichen and it's effects. Who owned/had a right to it...what it brought about....
...more
Philip
‘Who wants to live forever?’ Freddie Mercury once asked, well it turns out John Wyndham asked the same question years earlier, and the answer isn’t what you expect.

Of course the knee-jerk position is to say Yes, of course I want to live for 200 years (as the rare form of lichen discovered in this book would allow you to do), but Wyndham takes the opposite view. When I gathered what the gist of this book was going to be, I assumed the rest of the narrative would be concerned with various governme
...more
Steve
I bet most of us have thought about having a longer lifespan. If only there was a fountain of youth. Throughout our short lives we worry about that day when we will reach the end of our own personal timeline. As we age we struggle to look and feel young but eventually we have to face the truth - life is short and we're aging every day and there is nothing we can do about it. But what if there was?

In Trouble with Lichen Diana and Francis, a couple of biochemists in England discover a species of
...more
Dave Lefevre
Not really sci-fi. Wyndam takes what could have been an interesting moral question and instead creates a book about pedestrian intrigues that mostly plays out in sitting rooms and phone calls. Even worse this booshwa intellectualism is boring. Wyndham is too stuck in his 50s mindset to produce a book that stands the test of time. He wants to think he's a crusader for the intelligence of women while filling his books with casual 1950s sexism causing dramatic situations that are unintentionally fu ...more
Kate
I'd forgotten a lot of this book since reading it first in high school. It resonates strongly today with the crisis our world is facing, part of which (population growth and feeding all the people of the world) was obviously seen by the author all the way back in the early 60's. The underlying idea of the book is that the world is stuffed because people don't live long enough to lead anything but self centred lives, not considering future generations, women rushing happily into marriage knowing ...more
Rosie
When I started reading the Trouble with Lichen, I was afraid that the language would be over complex and the pace slow like Wyndham's 'The Midwhich Cuckoos'. I was pleasantly suprised to find that this little known novel, is just as good, if not better, than Wyndhams 'The Chrysalids' and 'Day of the Triffids'.

The book follows Diana Brackley, a young biochemist who discovers that a particular species of lichen has amazing anti-aging properties, that could dramatically increase the human lifespan
...more
Marleen
When Francis Saxover and Diana Brackley, two scientists, independently but simultaneously discover that rare lichen has the properties necessary to extend human life-expectancy quite dramatically, they have very different ways of dealing with the fact.
While Saxover is determined to keep the discovery a secret, fearing that public knowledge of the discovery will lead to chaos, Diana is determined to use the lichen to empower women and enhance their role in a male dominated society.
However, with t
...more
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John Wyndham Parkes Lucas Beynon Harris was the son of a barrister. After trying a number of careers, including farming, law, commercial art and advertising, he started writing short stories in 1925. After serving in the civil Service and the Army during the war, he went back to writing. Adopting the name John Wyndham, he started writing a form of science fiction that he called 'logical fantasy. A ...more
More about John Wyndham...
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“I'm not romancing. I'm talking about the inevitable time when, unless we do something to stop it, men will be hunting men through the ruins, for food. We're letting it drift towards that, with an evil irresponsibility, because with our ordinary short lives we shan't be here to see it. Does our generation care about the misery it is bequeathing? Not it. "That's their worry," we say. "Damn our children's children; we're all right.” 1 likes
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