Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The World in Winter” as Want to Read:
The World in Winter
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The World in Winter

3.36  ·  Rating details ·  293 ratings  ·  46 reviews
Penguin reissues a classic work of science fiction from the author of The Death of Grass - now with a new introduction by Hari Kunzru

One year the UK suffers a terribly harsh winter: rivers freeze solid, food and fuel run low, the whole of Europe lies under snow. Months pass and the arctic weather remains. It gradually becomes clear that the world's climate has changed perm
Paperback, 240 pages
Published September 29th 2016 by Penguin (first published 1962)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The World in Winter, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The World in Winter

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.36  · 
Rating details
 ·  293 ratings  ·  46 reviews

Sort order
Jan 05, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not what I was expecting. Instead of an exploration of post apocalyptic England devoured by ice, we see a British couple try to make their way in Africa after the extreme weather hits home. The British pound has zero value after the country is devastated and the new immigrants from the north find themselves treated with the same condescending and racist manner from their African hosts that they had once applied to their former colonial citizens. This is Great stuff that's way ahead of its time f ...more
Nov 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sf
After I read The Death of Grass six years ago I was blown away. But I didn't go on to read anything else by him; there didn't seem to be much else still in print. But when browsing the local bookshop the other day, my eye was was caught by the striking covers on the Penguin Worlds series which included a reprint of "The World in Winter". I had to pick it up.

This is another piece of apocalyptic fiction where we witness the collapse of society, this time because of a reduction in energy coming fro
May 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
This is a difficult book for me to review, not only because it is a disturbing story but I also can't decide if it is prescient or whatever the opposite of that would be.

The story of how the world reacts to a new Ice Age starting is very reminiscent of the 2004 film The Day After Tomorrow except that it is British and was written 30 years before the film came out. There is one scene where American refugees break down the border fence to get into Mexico that was very similar to scenes in the book
Mediocre, myopic post-apocalyptic novel.
Altered solar radiation leads to mini-ice age in northern climates. England becomes arctic. We follow 3 upper middle-class Brits as they flee to Africa. In a nice touch, Christopher has these wealthy Brits becoming the servants and concubines of their formerly colonized Africans.
Too much time is spent on the uninteresting relations of the 4 main characters (upper-class sexual meanderings: dull reading in the 21st century). Not enough (close to zero)
Jan 03, 2018 rated it liked it
I found this re-release of this SF-novel a few weeks ago, during the sales of an English bookshop in Brussels, Belgium. In other words, were it not priced lower, I probably would not have bought it, or not immediately.

The premise looked interesting: climate-fiction (cli-fi) in vein of e.g. Kim Stanley Robinson and others. See, for example, his Science in the Capital trilogy. Winter is extending its tentacles in northern Europe and America. As hell freezes over, because the sun is giving off less
Oct 17, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
The premise of this book is excellent: a change in solar radiation leaves the world several degrees colder and in the midst of an ice age. England becomes ice-bound and government control collapses. Those with money and opportunity flee to Africa, while looters and murderers roam most of England. Central government attempts to retain control on central London, but the rest of the UK is excluded.

Beyond climate change and its effect on our ability to survive, other issues are covered. Love and re
Sep 09, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Essentially The Death of Grass but with snow instead of a disease that kills grass. The whole thing reads like the worst nightmare from the world of The Daily Mail, white people subservient to black people?! Swingers?! Shock after shock just keeps on coming for the upper middle class softies.
Stephen Curran
May 18, 2017 rated it it was ok
An odd one. The first part is a domestic drama, with trivial affairs and betrayals playing out in 1960s London while, in the background, a severe decline in the heat emitted from the sun causes society to incrementally unravel. Part two takes place in Africa, where our protagonist, along with the wronged wife of his friend, flees to take advantage of the hotter climate, but finds himself subjected to the same humiliations and disadvantages that black men suffered in his own country. Part three s ...more
John Christopher, as always, is great for an engaging sci-fi potboiler you burn through in a couple of days. This one’s an apocalyptic story about a calamitous weather event causing a new ice age which renders the northern latitudes inhospitable, similar to the film The Day After Tomorrow, and I enjoyed it a lot. It’s also Christopher’s most nakedly political book, but discussing that will involve spoiling the entire plot, so duck out now if you want to read it.

Scene: London in the early 1960s.
Mark Hodder
Dec 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2016
Where the so-called “cozy catastrophe” is concerned, John Christopher falls midway between John Wyndham and J. G. Ballard. With Wyndham, his characters witness and survive, with Ballard they internalise and transform, but with John Christopher they experience and endure. I love all three authors, but JC is the one who most makes me invest in his protagonists. In THE WORLD IN WINTER, Andrew Leedon is an ordinary guy who finds himself caught up with unfaithful friends, unpredictable women, and a n ...more
Oct 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
John Christopher is probably best remembered for The Tripods books, but he did write two particularly good adult science fiction stories. The first was The Death of Grass, and the second was The World In Winter. Written in the 50s it's a bit old fashioned by today's standards, but if you like John Wyndham's books then you'll probably enjoy John Christopher's too.
Kathleen O'Nan
Good, solid SF about climate change taking us to the new Ice Age. Africa becomes the desired place to live but Africans are not prepared to be prey again. Racism is explored in an interesting way when European whites become the minority servant class and are treated much the way they'd treated blacks in the past. This is the first book I've read by Christopher but not the last.
Jul 13, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015, sci-fi

John Wiltshire
Feb 26, 2018 rated it liked it
This is an odd and disturbing dystopian tale. The plot is relatively simple. The Northern Hemisphere (this is set in England, where London is the focus) goes cold. Permanent new Ice Age. Inhabitants of these new cold climes flee south, many to Nigeria (ex-Colonial connections). Life in Nigeria for the English is terrible. One goes home.
So why did I find this so disturbing? I think my main problem with this book is that it is set in the early 1960s, and is thus detailing a period of my own lifeti
Daren Kearl
Oct 27, 2016 rated it liked it
Judging from some of the negative reviews on here and my pre-conceptions of this novel before reading it, I think many readers were expecting some sort of The Day After Tomorrow sci-fi adventure but the Ice Age scenario is simply a means to make white Europeans refugees. In a complete topsy-turvy to current climate change where we are getting hotter temperatures and peoples from the equator will need to probably re-locate north and south, The World in Winter sees the British displaced and having ...more
May 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
An intriguing sci-fi classic from 1962, with many parallels to things going on now, such as climate change and economic and political growth of post-colonial countries, but also some endearing anachronistic anomalies e.g. Woolworths, Lyons Tea Houses, non-digital communications (but it is presumably set in the 'not too-distant future'). Feminism and Racial Equality movements still had a way to go too, which is evident in how many of the characters are treated and the language used, but this stil ...more
Dan Coxon
Jul 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Thoroughly enjoyed this. I was a huge fan of Christopher/Youd's children's fiction when I was young, and it's great to see that his adult novels don't disappoint. While this has dated poorly in a few places - some of the racial attitudes in particular suffer from this, as noted by Hari Kunzru in his introduction - the story doesn't suffer too much from it. The third act in particular is beautifully realised and enthralling from start to finish - if anything, I'd have hoped for more of that. A re ...more
Mike Clarke
Nov 21, 2018 rated it liked it
White flight: from the fingers that typed The Death of Grass comes an apocalyptic tale of global cooling, cataclysm and death. Comforting stuff in these times when you can see the army manoeuvring as a precursor to quelling civil unrest that may result when the brandy and paracetamol run out after Brexit. If the middle and end aren’t quite as gloomily captivating as the beginning, it’s still got a prophetic haar lingering, and feels right for these days. Suddenly, Lagos has never looked so appea ...more
Feb 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Novel about the interesting relationship between a man, his ex-wife, one of the guy she cheated on him with, the former's wife, and a friend. The themes of social codes in couples, friendship and racism are explored with different angles.

The entire post-apocalyptic setting is made irrelevant past the point of the basic action that throws the main character into the story, which subsequently doesn't feel like it's going anywhere up until the very end.
Dec 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, gcc-library
Interesting take on a post colonial world, written at a time when African nations beginning to assert their independence from European powers. It touches on the prevailing attitudes on races in the British Empire and on the ethnic divisions of nations within nations, although not prescient of how horrific an issue that became in many cases.

If there are lessons for today they are that past glories are no indicator of future success and that you reap what you sow.
Klaas Roggeman
Jan 05, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: scifi, read2018
Interesting, though flawed science fiction novel from 1962. With the current harsh winter in some parts of the world it seems especially apt. The flaws have mainly to do with some racist undertones. The best thing about science fiction is the ideas that are put forward and in this, this book very much delivers.
Andy Ritchie
Mar 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In much the same way as he did in The Death of Grass, John Christopher again manages to overlay the personal on top of the apocalyptic to great effect.
And there's a stark, uncontrived believability about the main character's change in fortunes, both in love and in the rapid collapse of society which is matched by the subtle tables-turned colonial overtones.
In short, a cracker!
Mugizi Rwebangira
Mar 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book left a very strong impression on me as a kid, as it might have, since I was living in Africa and it imagined a scenario where Africa turned the tables on its old tormentor Europe!

But apart from that aspect the relationships were also interesting, with their love triangles and subtle drama. I believe this is the first place where I saw reference to the play "Tristan und Isolde."
Eric Secrist
Dec 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good one. Well-written, interesting and thought-provoking. The book is more about relationships, race, and human nature than science fiction. The state of the world and especially London is really secondary to the characters. The book is the first I have read from John Christopher. I will probably read another of his books soon.
Mar 18, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The most anemic, gutless, milquetoast protagonist I have ever read in this genre. I thought maybe this would be the guiding motif of the novel: the spreading cold of the northern hemisphere and its peoples, the loss of emotional heat, a Nietzschean disdain for the loss of will...but no, it never goes anywhere. Competent prose, and not much else.
Jul 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
It would be between 3.5/4. Good story, however I was slightly disappointed by the final section (part three) of the book.
Oct 18, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: science-fiction
Shocking amount of racism. "But it was written in 1962, it was the times"

I don't give a damn, Bury this book in shame.
Feb 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
A little known book that should really have stayed that way.
Prabal Guha
Jul 24, 2017 rated it did not like it
It is more of a romantic novel than a post-apocalyptic story. Since I hate romantic stories it was very hard for me to finish the novel and I couldn't.
Aug 18, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sci-fi
Interesting, but very much of its time- exceedingly racist.
The whole plot felt perfunctory and predictable, and the light sci-fi conceit and at best vague apocalypse left a lot to be desired. On the whole, nowhere near the class of Death of Grass.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Some Will Not Die
  • The Snow
  • Plague (Plague 99, #1)
  • Pandora's Genes (The Pandora's Trilogy) (Volume 1)
  • The Last Canadian
  • Warday
  • Survivors
  • Long Voyage Back
  • The Fall of the Shell (The Pelbar Cycle, #4)
  • Dark Advent
  • Doll Parts
  • The Last Man on Earth
  • Cemetery World
  • The Kill Crew
  • Greener Than You Think (Classics of Modern Science Fiction 10)
  • Players at the Game of People
  • Somewhere I Have Never Travelled
  • The Rage Plague
Sam Youd was born in Huyton, Lancashire in April 1922, during an unseasonable snowstorm.

As a boy, he was devoted to the newly emergent genre of science-fiction: ‘In the early thirties,’ he later wrote, ‘we knew just enough about the solar system for its possibilities to be a magnet to the imagination.’

Over the following decades, his imagination flowed from science-fiction into general novels, cric