Trouble with Lichen by John Wyndham

Year published: 1960
Genre: Science fiction, satire
Setting & time: England, mid-20th century

Two scientists discover an anti-ageing substance derived from lichen and put it to use in very different ways. When the public find out about the substance it is not, as one might expect, unanimously welcomed, and society is divided into different factions when people start to realise all the implications.

I don’t quite understand why this book is labelled as science-fiction even if a scientific discovery and its consequences are at the centre of the plot. The science is explained in simple layman terms and doesn’t dominate the plot even though it is of course the factor that sets the plot in motion. This is an interesting moral satire on British society in the mid-20th century and an intelligent examination of what might happen in such a society if the people discovered that it was possible to double their expected lifespan.

This is a fun read rather than a funny one, as the undertone is quite serious while the tone is kept light. Recommended.

Rating: 4+ stars.


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