The Best of John Wyndham (John Wyndham) – ukázka

Při výběru ukázky ze sbírky The Best of John Wyndham jsem vůbec neměl lehkou práci: Jednak jsou povídky poměrně krátké a je obtížné najít kus, který by byl schopen fungovat samostatně, dal by jasnou představu o obsahu povídky a přitom nezkazil pointu. No a hlavně – skoro všechny povídky ve sbírce jsou opravdu dobré, takže stálo hrozného úsilí vybrat tu jednu, která bude reprezentovat všechny ostatní. Nakonec jsem zvolil první podkapitolu povídky And the Walls Came Tumbling Down, hlavně proto, že první kapitola Trojského paprsku je příliš krátká a první kapitola Pomsty přes prostředníka zase příliš dlouhá…


  • WYNDHAM, John: The Best of John Wyndham. London: Sphere Books, 1973. 320 str. ISBN 0-7221-9369-6.

And the Walls Came Tumbling Down (John Wyndham, 1951)

Report No. 1. From Mantus, Commanding No. 8 Expeditionary Party (Sol 3), to Zennacus, C-in-C Vanguard Emigration Forces (Electra 4).


Craft State: Fully serviceable 4; slightly damaged 1; lost in action 2.

Casualty State: Fit personnel 220; unfit 28; lost in action 102.

Present Position: 54/28/4 X 23/9/10-Sol 3.

Supply State: v. satisfactory. Equipment: satisfactory.

Morale: fair, improving.

Approach was made to Sol 3 at 28/11 (Electra 4 time). Signs of hostility were immediately encountered. Expedition withdrew without counter action. Approach made in other hemisphere. Signs of greater hostility encountered. Two ships were disintegrated with all aboard. Third ship sustained minor fractures, ditto 28 crew, 2 lost. Expedition withdrew. Signs of hostility in all inhabited places visited. Conference was called. It was decided to set down in uninhabited area, if suitable. Very suitable position located after search. Expedition set down without interference 34/12 at reading given. In consideration of hostility encountered, construction of a redoubt was commenced immediately.

Dear Zenn, the above is for the official record but even from that you may judge that this planet, Earth, is one hell of a spot. Just my damned luck to draw Party No. 8. Serves me right for behaving like an honest fool when I could as easily have fiddled the draw.

I’ll never get any place on politics, I’m afraid—even if I ever do get back from this grotesquely misconceived planet. I would sum it up as a disgusting and dangerous dump with the potentialities of a paradise.

To begin with the worse features—about two-thirds of the place is waterlogged. This results in masses of suspended vapour for ever hanging about in its atmosphere. Imagine the gloomy effect of that for a start!

But it is almost worse when the main masses of vapour clear, for then the humid air gives to the whole sky a hideously ominous shade of blue. Not, of course, that one would expect the place to look like home but there does seem to be a kind of wanton perversity over everything.

One would assume that development would take place in the most suitable and salubrious spots—but not here. The larger centres were not difficult to distinguish from above, being clearly of artificial construction with marks (some form of communications?) radiating from them. And all were remarkably ill-situated.

As we steered close to one, we had thought ourselves unperceived, but on our approach it was clear that preparations had been made against us. The defences were, indeed, already in action—without any attempt to inquire whether we came in good faith. One must assume from this that the inhabitants are of an abnormally suspicious or possibly a sheerly vicious disposition.

Considering it possible that other parts of this world might be uninformed about us, we moved halfway round the planet before making another approach. Here the centres of habitation were more frequent and had a more orderly appearance, many of them being laid out in lattice form.

They proved, however, to be even better defended, and over a considerable range. Indeed, so accurate was their estimate that two unfortunate vessels were completely disintegrated and another somewhat fractured.

We in the other four felt our craft and ourselves shaken so much and subjected to such stress and tension that we thought the end had come for us also. Luck, however, was with us and we were able to draw out to a safe distance with the loss of only certain fragile but unimportant objects.

After that we proceeded with great caution to investigate several other cities. We found every one of them embattled against us.

We do not understand why the inhabitants should, without provocation or inquiry, turn weapons upon us in this way. We have been given no chance to explain that we come with peaceful intentions—nor indeed any chance to attempt communication at all. It is a very disappointing and ominous climax to our long journey and it has depressed us.

I called a conference to decide on our next move. The views aired there were not encouraging. Every contribution to the debate endorsed that this planet is crazy beyond belief. Some compensations did emerge, however.

The concentration of civilization in unsuitable spots—moist humid areas, often alongside large bodies of water—cannot be accidental though its purpose is obscure. But it does, quite absurdly, mean that the most hospitable regions are without signs of life.

This observation, supported by several speakers, did much to raise our spirits. It was decided to set down in one such spot and there to build a redoubt where we can live safely until we shall have discovered some means of communicating with the inhabitants to assure them of our peaceable intentions.

This we have done at the position stated and I may explain the report on morale by saying that it has given everyone a great lift to be settled in a spot so rich, so lushly furnished with the good things of life. Imagine, if you can, an area composed almost entirely of silicates! This is sober fact. Never did I expect to see such a thing.

It is Eptus’s opinion that the planet itself may consist almost entirely of silicates beneath the water and under a hideous green mould which covers most of the rest of its surface. It is difficult to believe in such a wonderful thing as that, so I am accepting his view with caution for the present.

If it were true, however, all our problems would be solved. A completely new era would open for us since we would be justified in assuming that the other planets of the Sol system are similar. In other words we should be able to report that we have found a whole system built of silicates in easily assimilable form and inexhaustible in extent.

This remains to be investigated and proved. It is not known to the rest of the company, who assume that this is a mere pocket delectably rich in silicates.

The exact site chosen lies between two large rocks, which will provide natural bastions to the north and south sides of the redoubt, making it unnecessary for us to do more than build the east and west walls between them and roof the space thus enclosed.

This should take no great length of time. Sol is close enough to exert considerable force here. Several members of the party were immediately detailed to assimilate silicates until they were extended to the required shape and pattern.

They then arranged themselves in a refractory formation bearing upon a remarkably pure quart deposit. Fusing took place in quite a short time. Before long we had the material to make several furnace-lenses, and these are now fusing blocks of first-class boltik from the raw ingredients strewn all around us.

Since we set down we have seen nothing of the inhabitants, but several things lead us to suspect that the region, though neglected, is not entirely unknown to them. One is that a part of the ground surface has been hardened somewhat as though an exceedingly heavy weight of some land had been dragged over it.

This mark lies in a line roughly east and west, passing between our two rocks. Westward it continues without feature for a great distance. To the east, however, it shortly joins a broader mark evidently made by the traction of a still heavier object.

A little on our side of this junction stands a curious formation which, by its regularity, we take to be artificial. It is made of an impermanent fibrous material and bears apparently intentional markings. Thus:



We do not understand the significance of this—if it has any.

Since I began this account Eptus and Podas have brought me the most fantastic news yet. I have to believe it because they should know what they are talking about, and assure me that it is positively a fact.

It seems that Podas collected locally a few specimens for examination. Several of them were asymmetrical objects attached in some way to the ground. Another was of different type and showed some degree of symmetry. This latter was in the form of a soft cylinder, having a blunt projection at one end and a tapered one at the other, and was supported by four further projections beneath.

It was by no means attached to the ground, being able to move itself with agility on the four lower projections. After examining them all carefully Podas declares that they are all living objects, and that the basis in both types is carbon! Don’t ask me how such a thing can be but Eptus supports him, so I have to accept it.

It has further occurred to them as a result of this discovery that if all life on this planet is on a carbon basis it may well account for the neglect of this excellent silicate region. It does not, however, account for the immediate and unprovoked hostility of the inhabitants, which is a matter that interests me more at the moment.

Podas states that none of his specimens exhibited intelligence, though the cylindrical object displayed some clear reflexes to external stimuli.

I find it difficult to imagine what a carbon-based intelligence could possibly look like but I expect we shall find out before long. I must admit that I look forward to this event not only with some misgiving, but with a considerable degree of distaste.

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