[Read] ➵ The Seeds of Time By John Wyndham – Iphoneleaks.co.uk

10 thoughts on “The Seeds of Time

  1. says:

    John Wyndham writes of these stories as
    "The intention of Chronoclasm, in the comedy-romantic, was to entertain the general reader and break away from the science-fiction enthusiast. Pawley’s Peepholes is satirical farce. Opposite Number attempts, with perhaps qualified success, the light presentation of a somewhat complicated idea. For Dumb Martian and Survival I tried to use the pattern of the English short-story in its heyday. Compassion Circuit is the short horror-story. A neo-Gothick trifle, could one say? And finally there is Wild Flower where one has encouraged science-fiction to try the form of the modern short-story.


    The stories are;


    Time to Rest



    Pawley’s Peepholes

    Opposite Number

    Pillar to Post

    Dumb Martian


    Wild Flower


    John Wyndham wrote the novels The Day of the Triffids, The Kraken Wakes, The Chrysalids,The Midwich Cuckoos (filmed as Village of the Damned), Trouble with Lichen, The Outward Urge, Consider Her Ways and Others, Web and Chocky.
    This collection contains good examples of his famous works.


  2. says:

    Varied short stories by John Wyndham, some from before WW2 and some decades later, and still fresh, 20 years since I last read them.

    If Wyndham makes you think of spooky children (Midwich Cuckoos) and triffids, prepare for something different and, I think better. There is plenty of variety here, and some great ideas:

    Chronoclasm is a thoughtful (non-action) time travel paradox.

    Time to Rest is a pastoral tale, where a human loner travels the Martian canals, living a tinker's life.

    Meteor is a pre-war adventure. Although basic plot is obvious from the start it presents an interesting slant on how one's insular perspective (life, experience, body) skews one's objectivity and ability to interpret what is around us when we are in an unfamiliar situation.

    Survival seems like a cliché, but of course it predates most of the sci fi films it brings to mind - and it has a good twist. Like other Wyndham works, some of the characters express very misogynistic views, albeit perhaps typical of the time. It also has a prescient insight into the power of tabloid media and the power of celebrity (as in Midwich Cuckoos).

    Pawley's Peepholes is the story I remembered most vividly from my first reading of this collection. It is a comic slant on time travel, with satire of the media and its approach to "truth".

    Opposite Number is about parallel universes, with an original ending.

    Pillar to Post is, like Meteor, about disorientation when one cannot even begin to understand one's circumstances, but it is a more complex narrative. It also posits that the end of the world could be that it "just died... of government-paternalism" because there would be so much order, there would be no need to adapt. Life is an accident and maybe survival is too.

    Dumb Martian is good because, finally, a man with no respect for women gets his comeuppance.

    Compassion Circuit is a very short exploration of the relationship between humans and personal robots.

    Wild Flower is completely unlike the others, being rather twee, like its title.

    And after all these years, I think Pawley's Peepholes is still my favourite (though perhaps not the best).

  3. says:

    #13 in my Top 20 Books I Read in 2015: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zIWkw...

    I thought Wyndham was an awesome novelist, but he seriously might be even better with short stories. The worst ones are kinda boring, but the best ones are really stellar: blood-chilling space horror, thought-provoking social commentary, and lots of Lovecrafty last lines that drive the mind-blowing last nail in the coffin of my not being sure of giving this thing a 5.
    It's 50s sci-fi and if you don't know what that means, it means women tend to behave like good wives (watch for instance It!, The Terror from Beyond Space!, where the two women on the spaceship cook and serve meals while the men sit on their asses), but try and laught at that, come on. Dope collection!

  4. says:

    I'm tempted to say that John Wyndham's short stories are better than his novels. The ten in this collection range from average to awesome. You've got robots, time travel, space travel, and Martians, all written in Wyndham's accessible British style. A couple of them could easily have been made into Twilight Zone episodes. Seeds of Time won't make you forget Day of the Triffids or Midwich Cuckoos but it's definitely worth a read.

  5. says:

    In my youth I liked John Wyndham's science fiction stories, and when I picked this one off a dusty shelf to catalogue it on GoodReads, I decided to re-read it before putting it back. The seeds of time is a collection of short stories, and I had forgotten some of them, and had only vague memories of the rest, so it was almost like reading them for the first time. And I enjoyed them just as much as when I first read them some 40-50 years ago.

    And that made me wonder.

    When I was in my teens and twenties I read quite a lot of science fiction, both short stories and full-length novels. Now I hardly read any. On the rare occasions that I browse the science-fiction shelves of book shops I usually don't come away with anything. On the even rarer occasions when I have bought recently-published science-fiction, I've usually been bored, and abandoned the book.

    Have I changed, or has the genre changed?

    At first I thought that I had lost my youthful taste for science-fiction, and that it was probably something one grew out of, but re-reading these stories by John Wyndham showed me that that isn't the case. So the genre must have changed, or everything that can be said has already been said and the new stuff is just boring repetition. Or else, most likely, popular culture has moved on and left me behind. What a drag it is getting old, as the Rolling Stones (anyone remember them?) used to sing.

  6. says:

    I will never tire of reading Wyndham. His writing is witty, original and thought provoking. The themes and ideas he explores are still relevant today. This book is no exception. With 10 short stories, all of the above come quickly and relentlessly. There were no huge twists or surprises in the stories, it is easy to see where they are leading, but it is the details and atmosphere that kept me reading. Such a good book.

  7. says:

    Sci-fi as it used to be...

    Though always categorised as sci-fi, John Wyndham was probably one of the least science-based writers of the genre. There are very few gadgets in his stories and even when technology is being used – in order to time-travel for example – he doesn’t usually bother to give any kind of made-up science to explain the working; he simply expects his reader to accept it as possible and real. His stories might take the reader towards the fantasy side of sci-fi on occasion, but at heart they’re about humanity and Wyndham’s contemporary society even if they may be set on Mars in some distant future.

    This collection, originally published in 1956, brings together ten stories, ranging from comedy to horror, with touches of romance and occasionally social commentary built in. There’s no real common theme – this is a collection where each story is individual rather than being part of a greater whole. But most of the stories are more than strong enough to stand alone and even the weaker ones are well worth reading. Wyndham is a great storyteller and the variety in this book allows him to show off his impressive versatility.

    The stories are:-

    Chronoclasm – a story that addresses the paradoxes inherent in time travel and throws in a nice little romantic comedy along the way.

    Time to Rest – the tale of a human stranded on Mars after the destruction of Earth, and how his perceptions of the indigenous Martians gradually change as he struggles to accept his situation.

    Meteor – a threatened species sends explorers out into space to find a new home, and the planet they find is Earth. Comedy and tragedy all rolled into one – a beautifully imaginative story, this one.

    Survival – when a systems failure leaves a spacecraft drifting in space, the passengers and crew must find a way to eke out their food supplies till help arrives. There’s only one woman aboard and she is desperate to find a way to ensure her unborn child survives. Gruesome, horrific and yet kinda fun too…

    Pawley's Peepholes – the people of the future find a way to visit the present and treat it like a peepshow, popping up in the most unexpected and unwelcome places. How will the people of the present respond? A comedy with a satirical edge.

    Opposite Number – now we move into the realm of parallel universes, though Wyndham’s reasoning for their existence is...er…somewhat unique! This is Wyndham at his most romantic, and more than any other I found this story felt very dated. Still enjoyable though.

    Pillar to Post – time travel again, but this time by body swapping with people from the past. But what if the person you’ve swapped with doesn’t want to swap back? Imaginative and with a lot of humour, but this story also takes a rather grim look at the horrific injuries some soldiers were left with after the Second World War.

    Dumb Martian – our nasty narrator buys a Martian woman to take with him on his solitary five-year posting to an uninhabited moon orbiting Jupiter. Fooled by the shape of her face into thinking Lellie is stupid, the narrator is soon to discover he has under-estimated her. This is a thinly disguised attack on racism, but despite the fairly overt message, it’s still a good story.

    Compassion Circuit – a future when robots have been designed to take care of all our needs, including health-care. But what happens when the robot decides that it knows what’s best for us – without asking our permission? A theme that has recurred many times in sci-fi over the last half-century, and handled with a lovely touch of horror here.

    Wild Flower – a strange little story foreshadowing the whole nature/technology debate that is still going on today. Not the most successful of the stories in terms of entertainment but still interesting.

    It’s hard to pick favourites when the overall standard is so high, but I particularly like Meteor, Survival and Pillar to Post. But there’s so much variety in the stories that each reader would probably end up with a completely different top three. Great as an addition for anyone who’s read Wyndham’s major novels, and would be equally great as an introduction to his writing for anyone who hasn’t. Highly recommended.


  8. says:

    Whereas Wyndham may now be best remembered for his novel Day of the Triffids clearly his strenghth as a story teller lay in the short story rather than the novel. These stories, the longest of which is thirty pages, each of which starts on the notion of "what if..." are delightfully entertaining, thrilling or disturbing depending on the tone of the particular story.

    CHRONOCLASM: It's the story of a man faced with sudden knowledge of the immediate and distant future and his willing participation (for good and bad) to see the future play out as it has been described to him. Though the threat of a temporal paradox is presented, the story ends up playing out as if paradoxes cannot come into being leaving the reader to ponder if man really has as much free will as he thinks he does.

    This is one of three stories themed around Mars. Here the Martians are native humanoids, tall, graceful and cultured. The main character is an expatriot Earthman living the sort of life one of Hemingway's characters would have lived if he had written science fiction. It's really just a lovely mood piece.

    Meteor plays on the notions of perception and assumption as it follows the disasterous attempt of a slow ship to colonize a far away world.

    Survival is the closest these stories get to pure horror. It has all of the classic themes of man's inhumanity to man and monster within that is released when one's existence is threatened. It is the second story that features Mars but here Mars is an unattainable goal.

    This story is another time travel piece but is much more lighthearted than Chronoclasm. What would happen if people from the future decided to turn the past into one giant theme park? How would the citizens of the past react?

    Here's another take on time travel. This story works around the idea of different futures arising from different outcomes to decisions. Can true love sort things out when fates goes horribly pear shaped?

    Wyndham's writing here reminded me most of H.G. Wells's social comentary science fiction, espcially that of The Time Machine. Here a man gets a brief chance to live in the future when he is mistakenly transmitted into a distant future. Although the future society is no Eutopia it is better than his life in the past. How hard will he fight to keep his future life and do they really want him in the future?

    If the woman in this story weren't a Martian (and I think she was a human but of a multi-generation Martian lineage), the story would just be a cautionary tale against domestic abuse.

    There are a couple classic Twilight Zone episodes that are similar to this story of man and machine and man becoming machine. It's not particularly unique or clever but still chilling.

    The last story of the group is by far the weakest. The book ends on a whimper. Just sing Where Have All the Flowers Gone and leave it at that.

  9. says:

    This is a short story collection that is, I dare say, much less famous than Wyndham's novels. It is, however, worth hunting down if you like those novels. As is often the case with short story collections, The Seeds of Time shows greater range than all of the author's novels together (although Wyndham was just one of several pseudonyms used by this author and I haven't read any of the others).


    See the complete review here:


  10. says:

    I wish I liked this more, because I like how Wyndham brings a certain kind of gentleness to sci-fi.

    Sadly, in this collection the gentleness flips towards boredom a few too many times. There are quite a few interesting ideas here, which then get suffocated with some real stuffy, fuddy-duddy writing.

    Chronoclasm - 1 star
    Time To Rest - 3.5 stars
    Meteor - 3 stars
    Survival - 3 stars
    Pawley’s Peepholes - 3.5 stars
    Opposite Number - 2 stars
    Pillar To Post - 4 stars
    Dumb Martian - 3.5 stars
    Compassion-Circuit - 2.5 stars
    Wild Flower - 2 stars

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