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Science fiction author John Christopher, best known for his young adult novels about The Tripods, is actually Samuel Youd. Born on April 16th in Lancashire, England, he was a sci-fi enthusiast throughout his youth. His first story was published in an amateur magazine, The Fantast. He greatly admired Aldous Huxley and Arthur C. Clarke. Married, with children, he felt the necessity to earn an adequate living, so he became a “hack” writer, churning out books in several genre—science fiction, thrillers, historical romances, comedy, and detective novels—under several different pseudonyms. He was a “first draft” writer, meaning that he never rewrote anything other than his first chapter. It wasn’t until he worked with editor Susan Hirschman at Macmillan in 1966 that he felt challenged to rewrite and improve his finished manuscripts. The resulting books were some of the best young adult science fiction, still in print today. Those titles include The White Mountains, The Guardians, Beyond the Burning Lands, and When the Tripods Came.

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