I Saw That Years Ago Podcast: Ep 20 – Salem’s Lot

David Soul does battle with evil…they never stood a chance.

This week we take a quiet break, in Salem’s Lot

EP 20 – Salem’s Lot


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Classic Sci-Fi – The Death of Grass by John Christopher

death of grass

I’ve recently been reading through some of the best science fiction from the 50s, 60s, and 70s. This has led me to a few rather wonderful books that I’d managed to miss during the hungry, binge-reading period of my youth. Ah, such a wanton time of literary abandon that really was.

One particular novel I’d always meant to read was the British apocalyptic classic ‘The Death of Grass’. I’ve always been a fan of British sci-fi writers such as John Wyndham, Arthur C Clarke, and J.G.Ballard, due to the patient and reserved way that they approached catastrophe. It’s always good to know that in the end, nothing is so bad that it can’t be solved with a good, hot cup of tea and a bit of a chat.

Anyway, here’s the review I posted on Goodreads.

‘This apocalyptic novel, which belongs with Day of the Triffids and The Lord of the Flies as a particularly English affair, shows how society can descend into barbarism in a handful of days when all the food runs out. It’s a classic stiff-upper-lip tale of two families who get wind of a terrible plot by the government to cull the population in order to survive an impending famine. They escape a blockade around London and head out on a journey to a farm belonging to one of the characters’ brother. Along the way they encounter a new England, one where the power of the gun is now law, causing them to make some awful decisions.

It’s telling that the novel was written in the 50s, as the women characters are barely visible. All they seem to do is make tea, cry, and tell the men how beastly they’ve become. Admittedly it grates, but using the stereotypes of the time does lend a strange coldness to the emotions of those involved, adding to the sense of unreality. The story moves at a steady, if slightly pedestrian pace, but again this works in its favour, as each crisis slowly creeps into view.

There are few likeable characters, and even less likeable outcomes. While this makes for a depressing read, it also shows the stark choices that such radical situations demand, and how dehumanising it can quickly become. Very good.’


Do you have any old classics that you’ve discovered lately? Let me know in the comments below.

A Peculiar People

Here at the True Brit Blog we pride ourselves on bringing you the best in social commentary, cultural enlightenment, and the Arts. Plus the occasional biscuit or two. So it with great pleasure that we herald the arrival of a new novel penned by two friends of ours from the colonies. The thing that makes it particularly interesting, and relevant to this blog, is the fact that they have set it in England (a fictitious England, but good old Blighty non-the-less).


Madam is that a pistol in your stockings or are you just pleased to see me?

The book in question is ‘Phoenix Rising’, set in the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, a government department charged with the investigation of mysterious events and strange goings-on. Within the sacred walls of the ministry’s archives we find Wellington Books, a Victorian gent with a penchant for information and inventions – less a James Bond, but rather a proto-Q. Into his life explodes, quite literally, Eliza D Braun, a field agent for the ministry hailing from New Zealand and bringing with her a collection of exotic weapons and little patience for asking questions. Their relationship remains as combustible as her entrance but they soon find themselves teamed up to fight against the dark forces of the Pheonix Society. This pursuit takes them through High Street Carriage Chases, Robot Infested Mansions, and even the occasional Fatal Opera, all for Queen and Country.

Phoenix Rising is many things, but first and foremost it’s a lot of fun. Eliza and Wellington play their parts wonderfully well as the sexy, deadly secret agent, alongside the stiff-necked Brit with a little more going on under his perturbed surface than first appears. The real strength of the duo is the deft banter that fills the pages as each tries to work out the other while holding their own cards close to their, in Eliza’s case ample, chests. Comparisons can be drawn between the Avengers, Castle, and Warehouse 13 for the partnership of brains and battle but Tee Morris and Pip Ballantine have worked hard to give their creations a life of their own with enough depth and charm to warrant the further titles that are planned in the series. Add to this a believable Victorian London setting (complete with the obligatory street-urchins of unquestionable loyalty and dubious hygiene), a fine selection of secondary characters, and enough action sequences to keep even Michael Bay happy, the result is an exciting, funny, and highly enjoyable novel that will last long in the memory. A romp with some pomp, we Brits love that.

So in honour of this marvellous achievement we are proud to bestow upon Mr Morris and Lady Ballantine the Order of the Brit Blog (OBB) which acknowledges their outstanding efforts in the service of fictional Britain. God bless them, and all that sail in them.

To receive your own copy of this exemplary example of storytelling simply go to Amazon or order it from your local bookshop. For more information please visit – www.ministryofpeculiaroccurrences.com/