Chocky is Book #396 on the 1001 Book List and this review was first published in August 2012.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my time reading John Wyndham’s very sedate science fiction.
The eponymous Chocky is an alien, that much is crystal clear to a modern reader. He/She is visiting with young Matthew Gore, age 11. Sadly Matthew is far too old to have an imaginary friend and so his mother and father are rather in a quandary about how to handle the existence of Chocky. Matthew, for his part, doesn’t seem that bothered. Other than an initial difficulty in explaining about turning up at an appropriate time, and the somewhat condescending attitude she has about inferior technology, he seems happy to have her companionship. Chocky introduces new ways of thinking and seeing to her young friend. Unfortunately, the parental concern and Chocky’s own desire to help Matthew eventually turns into an alien-revealing problem. The end result of which is rather fatal.
As with the other two books that make the 1001 Books list, this is a nice and thoughtful read. It is as Brian Aldiss put it, a “cosy catastrophe”. And frankly that makes them all perfect lightweight science fiction reads. Both Triffids and Cuckoos have more going on than Chocky, in the moral dilemma area anyway.
Despite enjoying this book, I am slightly perplexed as to how it manages to get on the 1001 list. I can see clearly how the other two manage it, but perhaps some of the ideas of how Chocky is communicating with Matthew were new and unusual at the time of writing or maybe it is the idea of other intelligent life forms driving and assisting our growth that was unique. I’d be interested to know.
Nevertheless, it was a gentle and entertaining read, and very much a mirror on times past. I can recommend it for a light summer read or if you have enjoyed any of Wyndham’s other books. As for me, I have The Kraken Wakes awaiting me now on my bedside pile. Another Wyndham for a break in the heavier reading that is Frankenstein.