I am on a roll. Now that I’ve finished my history course and am on a summer break from study, I’m determined to make a good dent in my books ‘pile of shame’. I picked up The Midwich Cuckoos the other night to read in bed, didn’t get very far, then returned to it yesterday morning to read on way to work and pretty much had to finish it when I got home last night. It’s only just over 200 pages long and unputdownable. The Spectator jacket quote sums it up very well. Beloved says I’d seen the film adaptation, The Village of the Damned and while I remember the Children, I didn’t remember how it all ended or much of what happened. Must have seen it a while back or fallen asleep. I’d been wanting to read more John Wyndham since I read The Day of the Triffids last year and was struck with its humanity, simplicity of style and language and, at the same time, it was unsettling and intelligent. The same can be said of The Midwich Cuckoos. Again, I thought how best selling authors and Hollywood film makers who tackle science fiction or even just write thrillers could learn a thing or two (actually many things) from classic authors such as Wyndham who was economic with words and more powerful for it. I’d urge anyone who reads only contemporary science fiction to look at Wyndham. I’m certainly going to get his other books and I wouldn’t have come across him if it wasn’t for The Guardian’s 1,000 novels everyone should read list. I come to this list again and again – it’s not perfect, no list is, but it has brought my attention to many authors I’ve never heard of or wouldn’t have come across without some guidance. The list and the science fiction literature exhibition at the British Library, which we went to a few years back and which prompted Beloved to get some other classic books. I say ‘other’ as I’ve not allowed myself a glimpse of what he has yet, have my own ‘pile of shame’ to worry about for the present but I do look forward to the prospect of further exploration.