The Chung-Li virus has devastated Asia, wiping out the rice crop and leaving riots and mass starvation in its wake. The rest of the world looks on with concern, though safe in the expectation that a counter-virus will be developed any day. Then Chung-Li mutates and spreads. Wheat, barley, oats, rye: no grass crop is safe, and global famine threatens.
In Britain, where green fields are fast turning brown, the Government lies to its citizens, devising secret plans to preserve the lives of a few at the expense of the many.
Getting wind of what’s in store, John Custance and his family decide they must abandon their London home to head for the sanctuary of his brother’s farm in a remote northern valley.
And so they begin the long trek across a country fast descending into barbarism, where the law of the gun prevails, and the civilized values they once took for granted become the price they must pay if they are to survive.
|Publisher:||The SYLE Press|
|Product dimensions:||5.06(w) x 7.81(h) x 0.47(d)|
About the Author
While John Christopher (1922-2012) was born as Sam Youd, he chose to write his science fiction books under multiple pseudonyms. Well known for his young adult book The Guardians, he won numerous awards for his work. He also wrote The Tripods, which is a series of young adult books that imagine a post-apocalyptic world.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Really enjoyed this book. The premise was excellent and believable and the story had me hooked. A good mix of characters and good development of them. My only complaint would be the abruptness of the ending.
I first read this novel in high school, after greatly enjoying the Tripods trilogy (The White Mountains, The City of Gold and Lead and The Pool of Fire) for which John Christopher is more well-known. Those books were aimed at young adults, and I recalled The Death of Grass as being surprisingly more serious and cold-blooded in dealing with the downfall of human civilisation.The Death of Grass is a classic post-apocalyptic novel, written in the 1950s, the golden age of British post-apocalyptic fiction. In this case the end of the world as we know it is brought about by the Chung-Li virus, a disease originating in China which kills off all grass species - including, unfortunately for humans, wheat, barley and rye. First China falls to famine, and then it spreads to India and South-East Asia and the Soviet Union, and before long the grass is dying out in Britain and rationing is introduced in a desperate measure to stave off starvation. As England descends into anarchy, the protagonist and his friends and family must fight their way north to Cumbria, where his brother has a potato farm in an easily defended valley.What sets The Death of Grass aside from other post-apocalyptic novels of the time - notably John Wyndham's nonetheless excellent bibliography - is the sheer level of realistic brutality the characters are forced to lower themselves to. Like all novels of the genre, The Death of Grass' overiding theme is that civilisation is a thin veneer that will be peeled away as soon as the electricity goes out and the tap water runs dry, and there are many conversations to this effect. The protagonist and his friends are forced to kill, and not just in self-defence, and in the closing stages of the novel - a mere few days after they have fled London - he realises that he is becoming something akin to a feudal chieftan, with a roving band of armed killers. Men like this are a staple of post-apocalyptic fiction - whether they are the bikers of Mad Max, or the armed survivalists of The Road, or even the miscellaneous bandits and marauders of my own serialised novel End Times - but they are always the bad guys, never the protagonists. Note that I didn't use the word "heroes;" in Christopher's world, there are no heroes, just the dead and the living. These generic bad guys always kill to take things - weapons, food, vehicles - and from our vantage point in the real world we consider this the wrong thing to do. We never consider that scavenging and trading might not be enough. We never consider that, in order to survive, we might very well have to kill and take. If you'd prefer to die than do that, you will - count on it.The Death of Grass is one of the most unflinching accounts of an apocalyptic event that I've ever read, and is required reading to any fan of the genre. It's also, incidentally, the first book that I've re-read in more than two and a half years, because I'm in Mongolia at the moment and reading material is limited. Once I reach London I've a good mind to go over and read some favourites from the past - the entire Discworld series, for a start, plus all of Philip Reeve's books. Now I'm adding all of Christopher's works to the list (although the only ones I've read are the Tripods books) and, for that matter, all of Wyndham's.
Great post apocalyptic tale concerning the loss of all grass (wheat,barley,rice,maize,corn etc.)and the ensuing worldwide starvation and confrontation. Its just as well we can do so many things with the humble potato.
The Death of Grass is a fictional novel by John Christopher about survival in a post-apocalyptic world where a virus has wiped out all sources of food in the old world. This virus, called the Chung-Li virus, first strikes rice plants in China but mutates to be able to infect all grasses. Consequently, wheat and barley fall victim and all food sources quickly vanish. After receiving intelligence that major infected cities are going to be bombed, two families flee from London for their a valley in the countryside. On the way, they overcome great odds, sometimes in the cruelest and most selfish way i.e. killing another family to steal their bread. When they finally reach the valley, fighting breaks out, these two families claim the land, and the protagonists are saved. This book doesn’t touch upon the microbiology of the fictional Chung-Li virus, except for the detail that Chung-Li has a quick mutation rate that allows it to become resistant to pesticides and jump to a different host. The Death of Grass does, however, do a substantial job of covering some of the social factors surrounding outbreaks. First, it demonstrates the dangers of unenforced travel regulations. Second, it shows the large role that governments have in disease containment (almost reminding readers of the film Outbreak when the president gives approval to bomb the infected town in order to contain the virus). Lastly, it details the chaos that can ensue from a lack of global coordination to address a viral pandemic. Overall, it’s a fun, thrilling read that I’d recommend for someone who wants to wonder about the social implications of plant viruses but not someone who wants to learn anything about molecular biology.