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The Tripods #0.5

When the Tripods Came

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Long ago, the Tripods--huge, three-legged machines--descended upon Earth and took control. Now people unquestioningly accept the Tripods' power. They have no control over their thoughts or their lives. But for a brief time in each person's life--in childhood--he is not a slave. For Will, his time of freedom is about to end--unless he can escape to the White Mountains, where the possibility of freedom still exists. The Tripods trilogy follows the adventures of Will and his cohorts, as they try to evade the Tripods and maintian their freedom and ultimately do battle against them. The prequel, When the Tripods Came, explains how the Tripods first invaded and gained control of the planet.

160 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1988

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About the author

John Christopher

235 books495 followers
Samuel 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, cricket novels, medical novels, gothic romances, detective thrillers, light comedies … In all he published fifty-six novels and a myriad of short stories, under his own name as well as eight different pen-names.

He is perhaps best known as John Christopher, author of the seminal work of speculative fiction, The Death of Grass (today available as a Penguin Classic), and a stream of novels in the genre he pioneered, young adult dystopian fiction, beginning with The Tripods Trilogy.

‘I read somewhere,’ Sam once said, ‘that I have been cited as the greatest serial killer in fictional history, having destroyed civilisation in so many different ways – through famine, freezing, earthquakes, feral youth combined with religious fanaticism, and progeria.’

In an interview towards the end of his life, conversation turned to a recent spate of novels set on Mars and a possible setting for a John Christopher story: strand a group of people in a remote Martian enclave and see what happens.

The Mars aspect, he felt, was irrelevant. ‘What happens between the people,’ he said, ‘that’s the thing I’m interested in.’

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 249 reviews
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,566 reviews56.6k followers
May 24, 2018
When the Tripods Came (The Tripods #4), John Christopher
When the Tripods Came is a prequel written twenty years after the publication of the original trilogy. The plot follows the description of the conquest given in the second book of the main trilogy. Fearing the technological potential of humanity, the so-called "Masters", unable to defeat humanity in a conventional war, hypnotise people through a television show called The Trippy Show, later using Caps to control them permanently. As in the original trilogy, the narrator of When the Tripods Came is a young English boy. As society slowly falls under the control of the Masters, he and his family escape to Switzerland, which has mounted the longest-lasting resistance. When the Swiss are eventually enslaved, the narrator and his family establish the "White Mountains" resistance movement of the original trilogy.
تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز بیست و دوم ماه اکتبر سال 1999 میلادی
عنوان: وقتی سه پایه ها به زمین آمدند، از مجموعه چهارگانه های جان کریستوفر؛ نوشته: جان کریستوفر؛ مترجم: مهرداد تویسرکانی؛ چاپ نخست، تهران، مدرسه، 1377؛ چاپ دوم تهران، قدیانی، کتابهای بنفشه، 1385، در 176 ص؛
چهارمین کتاب با عنوان: وقتی سه‌ پایه‌ ها به زمین آمدند؛ بیست سال پس از سه‌ گانه اصلی مجموعه چاپ شد، ماجرای این کتاب پیش از داستان‌های سه گانه رخ می‌دهد، و داستان حمله ی اربابان فضایی به زمین، و تسخیر زمین را روایت می‌کند. ارباب‌ها که توان پیروزی بر انسان‌ها را ندارند، از طریق یک برنامه تلویزیونی آن‌ها را هیپنوتیزم کرده و سپس با کمک کلاهک‌ها، آنان را به صورت دائمی تحت کنترل خود درمی‌آورند. ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Mary.
131 reviews15 followers
October 11, 2021
Now, I have made little secret how The Tripods trilogy is my favourite reading material from when I was but a child. I still love it. This is the prequel, written a while after the original trilogy.

I am always dubious when encountering something, added to something great, at a much later date. However, true to form the author doesn't disappoint. The story of how the Tripods came to Earth is told through the eyes of a young teen, Laurie and his friend, Andy. Once again the characters are well written and believable rather than being heroes. Laurie is reminiscent of Will in some ways and Andy has some similarities to Henry but that is where the links end really. There is no tedious links to teh original trilogy which would make the story unbelievable. The story of how The Tripods conquer Earth is well told and logical. I was originally feared that this book could spoil the experience of the story. It doesn't, it enhances it.

It leaves you at just the right point. You know where they are and what will come but it's not all tied up in a patronising fashion.

Whenever I re-read the books I always read the prequel last. It feels much better that way. I suppose I should try reading it first and see what that does to the reading experience...
Profile Image for Rain.
1,580 reviews28 followers
February 27, 2023
Could humans be mass brainwashed using mind control technology by aliens?

The invasion, and the subsequent melting of society was written very well. I couldn’t help but feel the parallel to modern mass brainwashing aka social media, it was a bit frightening to look at it from that point. I mean, they started with the children too.

Not that giant alien machines taking over the world isn’t terrifying enough.
Profile Image for Behnam M.
77 reviews34 followers
October 25, 2021
در میان علمی‌تخیلی نویسان بریتانیایی کسی را سراغ ندارم که به اندازه جان کریستوفر داستان‌های خوبی برای کودکان و نوجوانان بنویسد. نمونه‌هایی از نثر جاندار و ساده‌اش و طنز موجود در داستان‌های رعشه‌آورش را تنها میتوان در نوشتارهای رولینگ پیدا کرد. که مشخص میکند کریستوفر اساسا نویسنده‌ای بالفطره و آشنا به سلایق و ظرفیت‌های مخاطبانش است. داستانهایش با وجود پیچیدگی‌های ذاتی، بی‌نهایت ساده روایت میشوند و مفاهیم مورد نظر نویسنده به ساده‌ترین شکل ممکن در طول داستان و به طبیعی‌ترین صورت عرضه میگردد.
مثلا در اینجا به چه زیبایی و چقدر مقدس، ارزش آزادی تفکر و استقلال اراده کاویده می‌شود و در برابر بردگی فکری قرار میگیرد. در هیچ جای کتاب آرمان‌های قهرمانان داستان درگیر کلیشه و شعارزده نمیشود. گاهی نمیتوان باور کرد که این کتاب برای کودکان و حتی نوجوانان نوشته شده است.

اما نویسندگان علمی تخیلی همیشه با پیش‌بینی‌هایشان از آینده، قضاوت میشوند. جالب است بدانید که در ایده داستانی جان کریستوفر که در میانه‌های دهه ۶۰ میلادی نگاشته شده، بیگانگان مهاجم که بر سه‌پایه‌ها سوارند، نه از طریق شلیک حتی یک گلوله و یا اشعه‌های لیزری بلکه از طریق تهاجم به ذهن‌ها و در اختیار گرفتن عنان فکری انسان‌ها بر آنان مسلط میشوند. هیچ سلاح انفجاری توسط بیگانگان استفاده نمیشود بلکه کنترل انسان‌ها از طریق ایمپلنت‌های مغزی صورت میگیرد که اکنون بعد از گذشت نیم قرن، نمونه‌های آن را به لطف شرکت نورالینک ایلان ماسک میبینیم. این شرکت که اکثر برنامه‌هایش بدون هیچ پوشش خبری و به دور از نگاه‌های کنجکاو خبرنگاران پیش میرود آرمان این را در سر دارد که از طریق ایمپلنت‌های مغزی بتوان اطلاعات را به داخل و یا بیرون از مغز هدایت کرد. و این دقیقا همان ایده‌ای‌ست که جان کریستوفر در داستان معرکه‌اش پیشبینی کرده است.
Profile Image for Lost Planet Airman.
1,249 reviews72 followers
April 7, 2017
Fits nicely into what I remember of the Tripods trilogy.
But that is as-expected; it should, and does, dovetail -- the author wrote it to inform his readership, and answer the nay-sayers, that the human race could fall to the mind control technology of an alien race -- and yes, it could happen like this, witha deceptive feint into our military strengths and the hidden knife slipping into the chinks in our technology and to our selfish desire for entertainment.
Profile Image for آبتین گلکار.
Author 49 books1,132 followers
April 9, 2021
این در واقع قسمت اول مجموعه‌ی رمان‌های «کوه‌های سفید»، «شهر طلا و سرب» و «برکه‌ی آتش» به شمار میاد، ولی زمان بچگی من به نظرم ترجمه نشده بود و سال‌ها بعد از اون سه‌تای دیگه خوندمش. به نظرم همچنان بهتره بعد از اون سه تا خونده بشه
Profile Image for Steve R.
1,051 reviews33 followers
April 19, 2021
An interesting prequel to the author's trilogy of YA novels depicting the response of the human race to the taking over of their planet by aliens from another galaxy. Somewhat anti-climatic as a read since, having read the trilogy, I was aware of how the story is eventually going to unfold, but nonetheless engaging in its description of the ever-expanding and seemingly irresistible powers of the aliens to influence the behaviour of those who were to become their slaves (that is, prior to their being completely exterminated in the final stage of the plan for Earth of the aliens).

It is this sense of impending doom that the author worked quite well to minimize throughout the unfolding plot, as the narrator's family moves from Britain to Guernsey to Switzerland and then into a mountain hideaway, where they finally find at least a temporary sense of security from the 'Capped': those who have had their mental processes taken over in a chilling psycho-physical manner by the invaders. There are enough suspenseful incidents and narrow escapes to allow for the rather rapid page-turnings requisite in any YA novel.

Thus, the bleakness of the primary vision of the novel is somewhat allayed. Still it is a chilling vision: not that dissimilar to stories of the incarceration and/or outright extermination by the Nazis of any 'retrograde' or 'wrong-thinking' elements through the 1930s and 1940s and the Stalinist KGB's stifling of all dissent in the USSR: the aliens have an ability to turn humans against humans by promising a pleasurable, relaxed future free of the strains and stresses contingent upon and concomitant with individual liberty. The metal-mesh of the skull-worn 'Cap' is a fitting emblem of this frightening imposition of uniformity, and the narrator observed that the Capped 'found the thought of being without the Cap intolerable, even temporarily'. (At this point, I seriously wondered if our current generation's fixation on cell phone devices - of which I still am proud to say I do not own one - represents a harbinger of some mysterious alien force imposing its will on the blind masses!)

The final chapter gives an intimation of the major thrust of the trilogy's plot: the harnessing of the indomitable human yearning for freedom and individuality and the molding of such into a viable form of action. This helped to relieve the ultimate bleakness of the vision of an entire species devolving into the relatively blind mindlessness symbolized by the chanted phrase 'Hail the Tripod!'.

A valuable, cautionary tale, and one for which I can make a firm recommendation for young readers.
Profile Image for Karissa.
3,916 reviews192 followers
December 30, 2010
The original tripods trilogy was one of my favorite reads as a young adult. This book is a prequel to that trilogy; I have owned it forever and have never read it. So when I found the trilogy (along with this prequel) sitting on my bookshelf I decided to give it another read.

This is a short book but I found it was not as engaging as I remember the trilogy to be. It is a book that basically tells how the tripods came to our world. Overall I agree with the other reviewers that say read the trilogy first and then come back to this prequel for filler if you want to.

It was well written but seemed to be more a quick telling of events leading to the invasion than a really gripping story. It is a quick read at 150 pages or so. It was interesting to find out the before but this book doesn't really fit in that well with the other books of the trilogy.

I am on to read the trilogy now to see if those books are as excellent as I remember them being. I hope they are!
Profile Image for Rebecca Radnor.
475 reviews46 followers
April 18, 2021
Prequel to the Scifi series that introduced me to Scifi, when I was like 8 or 9 (40 years ago). It's a very short read, well written and kind of terrifying. The invasion of humanity happens very matter of factually. As you're reading it, it all makes so much sense -- and in retrospect you can see its likelihood (assuming any alien race were ever to try to invade us).

That said, read the trilogy first, then read this one.... the order as written, and please remember it's aimed at kids who are too old for kids' books but maybe don't have the reading skills yet for adult fiction. But, that said, if you have young readers at home (of about 8 or 9 years old) who like SciFi movies, it's a good series to introduce them to.
Profile Image for Farnaz Ps.
63 reviews25 followers
June 7, 2016
هیپنوتیزم نوعی حالت خواب یا خلسه مصنوعی ایجاد میکنه تا ذهن فرد موردنظر بتونه نظریات مخالف عادات و افکار خودشو بپذیره. برای اینکار روشهای متفا��تی وجود داره. البته استفاده از تلویزیون هم غیرممکن نیست...ناگهان چشمم به نکته عمیقی باز شد: متوجه شدم که اصلا مهم نیست اطرافیانم چگونه باشند، مهم نیست که از خود راضی باشند و با آدم موهن و تحقیر آمیز رفت��ر کنند، یا افرادی متزلزل که در برابرمان سر خم کنند. مهم ترین نکته آن است که آنها با آزاد اندیشی و به اراده خود عمل میکردند که در واقع، اصلی ترین خصلت بشریت است. آن صلح و همزیستی که عمویان و بقیه میخواستند به ما تحمیل کنند، در حقیقت چیزی جز خود مرگ نبود. آخر کسی را که از شخصیت و ذهنیت خودش محروم شده باشد، دیگر نمیتوان جزو زنده ها به شمار آورد...حرف شنوی مطلق، کار گوسفندیه که داره میره به مسلخ...
January 7, 2015
This book is very important to the Tripod series. It explains what happened during the war with the Tripods. It also told me how the foundations of the free men were formed. If the Tripods invaded Earth we would most likely not be hypnotized by the TV. This was a very good book.
Profile Image for Angie.
605 reviews8 followers
October 13, 2011
I read this book first because it is the prequel to the other three in the series. As I read this I had to remember that it's a children's book. I think as adults we want every children's book to be as captivating as Harry Potter or Narnia, but that's an unrealistic expectation.

That being said, as an adult I liked this book, but as a 8-10 year old kid I would have loved it. Interesting characters, great twists, believable plot. I bet Ethan would really like it.
Profile Image for Night0vvl.
132 reviews24 followers
April 10, 2015
There's only one thing I can say about John Christopher's works, they are awesome! And if he decided not to share his imagination with us the world would have missed so much
Profile Image for Harold Ogle.
309 reviews43 followers
March 2, 2012
A nice stand-alone novel that is a prequel to the more-famous "Tripod trilogy." Reading this doesn't really enhance the reading of the Tripod trilogy, but it is a good story in its own right. It's a bit like reading Bujold's Barrayar prequels, Dickson's Dorsai prequels, Moran's Emerald Eyes, or even Asimov's Foundation prequels: they are in no way necessary to the plot of the main series, but they're still fun to read. Christopher is clearly making a statement with this book about how people conquer themselves with passive entertainment, and seeing the passion of fans of TV shows on sites like Fanpop, it's even more current than when Christopher wrote it in the 1980s. Sure, he wasn't able to incorporate "shipping" or similar modern trends in his novel, but you can see the related concerns in this story.

Because of this mechanism - the aliens use TV programming to effect mind control - it also bears comparison to The Mysterious Benedict Society. That poor book - I seem to be comparing it unfavorably to everything else I read lately. Since they cover the same mechanism for world domination, I have to say that I found When the Tripods Came much more engaging, even though I found the protagonist pretty tiresome. He spends most of the book in denial about his seething resentment to his father and his step-mom (yes, it's a YA book, so he has to have at least one parent dead or departed), but it consistently informs his actions. Though I didn't find him likable, I did find that character work believable. I had some problems with the naivete of the characters in places, though: much the same frustration I had with "I am Legend" in that the characters have a very hard time grasping the nature of their situation. I bothered me with the protagonists, though I found it more believable with the Swiss and their xenophobia. I guess I want my protagonists to be just a bit smarter than their opposition, and am disappointed when they're not, even if that is more realistic.
Profile Image for Kewpie.
136 reviews15 followers
January 4, 2008
This is an excellent prequel to the Tripods trilogy.

BUT: If you have not read the series, PLEASE HEED THIS ADVICE:

Don't read this until after you finish the original trilogy. I know that it says #1 on the spine, and these events happened before the first three books. Ignore that!

It's more fun to be guessing and wondering with the protagonists in the books than to already have all the answers given to you at first. After you finish all three books, it's fun to see all the little questions you might have pondered during the season answered.

Sometimes reading the prequel first can be like reading spoilers! This book doesn't have too many spoilers, but most of the kids I know who read ?The White Mountains" first liked the series better than the ones who read "When the Tripods Came"

This could also be because "The White Mountains" was a better book and "When the Tripods Came" is good, but not the greatest. But once you are hooked and finished all three books, this title will feel like a nice little dessert to finish the meal.
Profile Image for A.E. Shaw.
Author 2 books20 followers
January 10, 2013

A very satisfying conclusion (beginning) to the Tripods tales. The hindsight with which this is written is a good suggestion to all writers of series of books that it doesn't hurt to start in the middle and fix the beginning later! All so tonally consistent and quite terrifyingly plausible, this has such detail and humanity at its centre, I'm just sorry to have finished these books, for it'll be a long time until I've forgotten them as well as I had again! Excellent, excellent.
15 reviews
July 6, 2022
Read this before the Tripods series; it gives some context that makes the series easier to get into. A thrilling story of escape and survival.
Profile Image for Mia.
1,073 reviews
May 27, 2021
For a prequel, this one is very well done. It's amazingly creepy and simple how the tripods are able take over most of the world. I also love how a little group of humans fight to keep their freedom, and it lays a perfect foundation for the original tripod series. What is so genuinely scary about the tripod series is how viable the method the tripods used to take control are. These books are just as fun to read as they were the first time I read them in college.

I read these again- it’s so fun! Just as exciting, engrossing, and thought provoking. The characters fighting for freedom are so earnest and imperfect in their efforts and it’s so relatable. Anyway, this is sci fi at its best and it holds up so well! I love it
Profile Image for Matt Ryan.
7 reviews2 followers
January 18, 2015
Despite this being published around the same time I was old enough to read the original trilogy from the 60s, I hadn't come across this prequel until a month or two ago and immediately set about tracking down a copy. The White Mountains, The City of Gold and Lead and The Pool of Fire were some of the first books I read in my pre-teens that hooked me into reading as a hobby and so it was great to come back to this as an adult. Still a good read.
Profile Image for Col.
487 reviews12 followers
January 1, 2021
Written well after the original series, it's a non-essential expansion of the brief explanation of the Tripods' conquest as provided in City of Gold and Lead, plus an explanation of how the White Mountains were founded. Short and engaging, with a Body Snatchers type of horror as civilization crumbles to dust in a matter of months.
Profile Image for Gareth.
Author 2 books4 followers
December 29, 2021
I came to this book with curiosity, having read the original trilogy when I was at school and having recently had my interest in the series rekindled by featuring the BBC adaptation in my podcast Very British Futures and subsequently listening to Tripodcast.

Overall I have to say it is a missed opportunity, considering the possibilities of a story about Earth being conquered by enigmatic aliens. A lot of the action takes place off the page, and often isn't even conveyed by news reports. So the horrific battles between people and humans who have been converted into willing slaves of the Tripods are often reported in a sentence or two. There's little sense of cataclysm or impending threat. Apart from the first Tripod encounter, which is described in a reasonable amount of detail, the other appearances of the Tripods are quite dryly written and any action recorded in the briefest manner.

The early "Invasion of the Bodysnatchers" element, with the Tripods programming people via a television program called The Trippy Show, should build into claustrophobia but instead feels more like a mild inconvenience. Only one member of the hero's family is affected and since she's had barely any personality prior to being taken over, it doesn't have much impact. Even the programmed humans are still pretty polite and reasonable, giving our heroes plenty of margin to escape from them several times.

As with the later trilogy, the story is told from the point of view of a young teenage boy, in this case called Lawrence. Although never stated specifically, Lawrence seems to be on the low end of the autism spectrum. He himself says he has difficulty forming attachments and envies how his Pa can talk easily with Lawrence's best friend, Alan, but not with him. In the early part of the book Lawrence mostly lists all the things he doesn't like about other people, which makes him dreary company. He made me think of Adrian Mole without the unintentional humour. He does go on a small arc towards being a more positive, richer person but his deadpan narration goes a long way to dampening the excitement.

There are good moments, such as the capped airplane pilot who announces he is going to become a farmer shortly because "people are happier staying where they are". A surprising moment of grisliness when the a farmer abducted by the first Tripod is reported to have been discovered partly dissected inside the wrecked machine. Some of the conjecturing about the aliens within the Tripods is interesting.

Overall, though "When the Tripods Came" is definitely best read at the end of trilogy, rather than as a prequel, since it doesn't do the fun adventure qualities of series justice. Whilst I am reading this book as an adult, I fear that many child readers will find the prose too flat and sombre.

In his preface, John Christopher complains about the BBC adaptation and in particular a review on the BBC show "Did You See...?" where author Brian Aldiss' criticised a particular aspect of the Tripods' design. It's hard to shake the feeling that the drive behind this book was more to address that note than because he had a burning desire to revisit his old creations.
Profile Image for Francis Franklin.
Author 13 books55 followers
September 15, 2018
Although the centring of television in this tale of alien invasion does date it a little, it takes no effort of imagination to translate the technologies used to our modern world of social media. Indeed, the recent weaponisation of media to sway democratic elections and pursue policies that benefit a tiny fraction of the world's elite at the expense of the rest of humanity is almost more sinister than anything the Tripods do.

Having just read The Massacre of Mankind (Stephen Baxter's sequel to The War of the Worlds), this does come across as a pale imitation of Wells's Martian tripods, but that aside it's a worthy addition to the Tripods series and I certainly enjoyed reading it.
Profile Image for Carl Nelson.
821 reviews3 followers
January 22, 2021
3.5 stars. A solid prequel to the Tripods trilogy that traces the roots of humans coming under the control of the alien Tripods. The scenario is believable and frightening, with a gradual separation of society into those "in the know" and the dehumanization of all others. Characters are believable and very relatable for a young adult audience. Quick read that could stand alone, but is more a story that enhances the main trilogy.
Profile Image for Rachel Petrone.
11 reviews
May 15, 2023
A good prequel! It was neat how it set up for the White Mountains which made it the kind of prequel you can read before or after the series without trouble and maybe for a slightly different first time experience (: I wish there was a bit more to it with regard to building the cities etc (maybe another prequel from the alien POV or from the POV from multiple kids around the world would have been fun). No complaints overall though! (:
Profile Image for TerryC.
42 reviews
September 20, 2017
In my opinion, I believed that this was one of my least favorites. At most points of the book, the reader could not understand what he or she was reading. It was confusing, and did not follow a timeline, making it even more the complicated. The only reason why I rated it 1 star was because of the cover illustration. Although the author had a terrible plot, the illustrator at least knew what he or she was doing. In my opinion, I did not like this book. However, I would recommend it if you are into terrible books. :)
Profile Image for Chloe.
205 reviews17 followers
May 28, 2021
My 4th grade teacher read this to us, and I just remembered enough to look it up. Maybe some time I should look for this book, along with the trilogy.
Profile Image for Sarah.
159 reviews1 follower
June 23, 2021
I wasn't so sure at first, but glad I stuck to this. Looking forward to reading the rest of the series.
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