Best 1967 Adventures (6)
December 18, 2016
One in a series of 10 posts identifying Josh Glenn’s favorite 1967 adventure novels. Happy 50th anniversary!
John Christopher’s The White Mountains.
The first installment in John Christopher’s Tripods trilogy is among my all-time favorite YA adventures. In the not-too-distant future, 13-year-old Will decides to leave his home town (somewhere in England) rather than go through with the Capping ceremony — a coming-of-age process whereby adolescents’ heads are fitted with a docility-ensuring metallic mesh, by three-legged metal creatures known as Tripods. His cousin Henry, with whom he doesn’t get along, joins him… and on their way across Europe to the Alps (the titular White Mountains), they also meet a French boy, Jean-Paul, who is skinny and frail but a sharp-witted student of the abandoned technologies they discover on their trip. Slowly, we discover that the Tripods are alien invaders who’ve decimated and enslaved humankind, compelling them to return to a pre-industrial way of life. Adults are of no use, when it comes to resisting the Tripods, because they’ve all been capped… except for a few rebels in the Alps. Christopher is a masterful world-builder; and he specializes in realistic teen protagonists, who tend to be jerks (petty, prideful, competitive) until they get over themselves.
Fun fact: The White Mountains was followed by The City of Gold and Lead (1967) and The Pool of Fire (1968). The 1988 prequel, When the Tripods Came, isn’t as thrilling — though it uncannily predicts the British children’s TV programs Teletubbies (1997–2001) and Boohbah (2003–2006).
Let me know if I’ve missed any 1967 adventures that you particularly admire.