: Preview – Chocky, by John Wyndham, afterword by Margaret Atwood, (NYRB Classics, 2015)


Publication Date: July 31, 2015


In Chocky, pioneering science-fiction master John Wyndham takes on an enigma as strange as anything found in his classic works The Day of the Triffids or The Chrysalids—the mind of a child.

It’s not terribly unusual for a boy to have an imaginary friend, but Matthew’s parents have to agree that his—nicknamed Chocky—is anything but ordinary. Why, Chocky demands to know, are there twenty-four hours in a day? Why are there two sexes? Why can’t Matthew solve his math homework using a logical system like binary code? When the questions Chocky asks become too advanced and, frankly, too odd for Matthew’s teachers to answer, his parents start to wonder if Chocky might be something far stranger than a figment of their son’s imagination.

Chocky, the last novel Wyndham published during his life, is a playful investigation of what being human is all about, delving into such matters as child-rearing, marriage, learning, artistic inspiration—and it ends with a surprising and impassioned plea for better human stewardship of the earth.


Wyndham singlehandedly invented a whole pile of sub-genres of SF. It’s as if… in the 1950s he was plugged in to the world’s subconscious fears and articulated them one by one in short, amazingly readable novels.
—Jo Walton, Tor.com

What John Wyndham does so brilliantly is invest quiet suburban streets with menace. The idea of an alien intelligence inhabiting a child is always frightening. But here Wyndham turns a story of ‘possession’ into a touching fable about our profligate use of the planet.
—The Telegraph

Wyndham described the odd rather than the fantastic, the disturbing rather than the horrific, the remarkable rather than the outrageous.
—Christopher Priest

Remains fresh and disturbing in an entirely unexpected way.
—The Guardian

John Wyndham (1903–1969) was the pen name used by the British science-fiction writer John Wyndham Parkes Lucas Beynon Harris. He began writing for money in 1925, mostly for American periodicals. After working as a government official and corporal operator in the army during World War II, he began writing science-fiction novels. His many works include The Day of the Triffids, The Kraken, The Midwich Cuckoos, Trouble with Lichen, Web, and The Chrysalids (NYRB Classics).
Margaret Atwood is the author of Oryx and Crake, The Blind Assassin, and MaddAddam, among other novels. Her newest book is the short story collection, Stone Mattress: Nine Tales. She lives in Toronto.

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