Trouble with Lichen

John Wyndham
Trouble with Lichen Cover

Trouble with Lichen


A very British book of science, discovery, and ramifications. While many Wyndham plots have made it into movies, this one strangely has not. I read it as a 2021 reading by Vanessa Kirby, who did a great job.

The two scientists are male (head of a research house) and female (his employee), and circumstances lead them to investigate the new discovery separately. They each ponder the implications on society, and this leads to their main difference - one echoed by the earlier movements to earn women the right to vote (in fact the main female character is descended from a suffragette). The implications go as far as catastrophe, a topic that shows up in many other Wyndam novels. This form of time travel is one that has always been quite interesting to me.

There was a religious reaction towards the end that echoes fundamentalists today, this was unfortunately swept under the rug. The novel also assumes a knowledge of the British Parliamentary party system, but the plot politics are left unresolved in the text. Other reviews have described the novel as dated or slow - but it was published more than 60 years ago. I would call it ahead of its time, and in fact I think it would make a fantastic film set in the modern day.