When the Tripods Came by John Christopher children's science fiction audiobook reviewsWhen the Tripods Came by John Christopher

When the Tripods Came is the fourth book in John Christopher’s TRIPODS science fiction series for children, but it’s actually a prequel, so you could read it first if you like. When the Tripods Came was published in 1988, 20 years after the original trilogy (The White Mountains, The City of Gold and Lead, The Pool of Fire), and after the airing in the UK of a BBC series based on the TRIPOD books.

Young readers of the TRIPODS trilogy may have been wondering how humans had been so stupid as to let the aliens subdue them by “capping” them with metal headgear that controls their thoughts. I was definitely wondering that. Well, read When the Tripods Came, and you’ll find out. This is the story of what happened with the alien Masters arrived on Earth, how they brainwashed almost all of the humans, why the humans happily went along with it, and how one family remained free to begin the resistance movement we learned about in The White Mountains.

When the Tripods Came explores more deeply the fundamental question that the TRIPOD books address: If you had to choose between being content / happy / ignorant or being free / self-determining / knowledgeable, which would you choose? (We might insist that we’d choose the latter, but if we examine ourselves, we may discover that we sometimes choose the former.) It also has something important to say about the seductive power of television, and the dangers of nationalism and xenophobia.

When the Tripods Came is very short — less than four hours in the audio version (Audible Studios) I listened to. It’s read by Walter Gaminara, the same reader who did such a great job narrating the trilogy. I didn’t like the plot of When the Tripods Came quite as much as I liked the trilogy, but I am glad I learned the backstory and think fans will find the knowledge worth the small time investment.

In my first paragraph above I said it doesn’t matter if you read When the Tripods Came first or last, but I think that when I read The White Mountains, I enjoyed the suspense of not knowing how the aliens became Earth’s Masters. For this reason, I’d advise reading When the Tripods Came after the original trilogy. But again, it doesn’t really matter.

Publisher: Experience the beginning of the Tripods’ reign in this prequel to the classic alien trilogy ideal for fans of Rick Yancey’s The 5th Wave and Margaret Peterson Haddix’s Shadow Children series. When it comes to alien invasions, bad things come in threes. Three landings: one in England, one in Russia, and one in the United States. Three long legs, crushing everything in their paths, with three metallic arms, snacking out to embrace—and then discard—their helpless victims. Three evil beings, called Tripods, which will change life on Earth forever.



  • Kat Hooper

    KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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