Wednesday 30 May 2007

Pawley's Peepholes by John Wyndham


Penny Turner, (the best person to have with you on a pub quiz team), reading the website mentioned 'had I read "Pawley's Peepholes"?' I hadn't....she had a copy which I borrowed and shortly after, I encountered Wyndham's clever take on time travel.

The John Wyndham Archive, 1930-2001, which is based in the University of Liverpool, Special Collections and Archives says that Pawley's Peepholes by John Wyndham was first published as Operation Peep in the magazine Suspense (Summer 1951).

The story tells of ghostly appearances in a small town which turn out to be time tourists! The townsfolk get tired of the intrusions on their private lives .....and fight back. I won't spoil the ending!

What's this got to do with Bellamy? In November 1969 Bellamy was asked by BBC Educational Publications to produce 9 drawings in black and white for "Music Session One "Pawley's Peepholes Pupil's Pamphlets for the Summer of 1970.

To date, we have not seen a pamphlet. Can you help? Email us at the usual address
See here for this 

An aside taken from "Time Travel" - PBS Airdate: October 12, 1999:
STEPHEN HAWKING: Time travel might be possible, but if that is the case why haven't we been overrun by tourists from the future?
CARL SAGAN: This argument I find very dubious.

Me too, Carl (RIP)


PetrusOctavianus said...

If not outright plagiarism, it looks like old Johnnie boy copied Wilson Tucker's story "The Tourist Trade", which appeared in the January 1951 issue of Worlds Beyond.
A description of it:

Norman Boyd said...

That's really interesting Petrus, thank you for your comment.
In "Strange Highways: Reading Science Fantasy, 1950-1967", by John Boston, Damien Broderick, they think:

"This plot is essentially the same as in Bob Tucker's "The Tourist Trade," though the stories were published close enough together (Worlds Beyond, January 1951, for the Tucker) that given the publication delays involved, it's unlikely that one influenced the other.

PetrusOctavianus said...

Well, I'm not completely convinced, since it's not the first time I've read a Wyndham story that was strangely familiar.

"The Lost Machine" from 1932 reminded me strongly of another story; I think (it's some years ago now) it was "The Martian" by A. Rowley Hilliard from 1931.
And of course "The Day of the Triffids" from 1951 covers a lot of the same ground as George R. Stewart's (IMO superior) "Earth Abides" from 1949.

There is a certain pattern, but is it just coincidence? I guess we'll never know, and I've never heard about Wyndham being accused of being a copycat before.

But from now on, every time I read a Wyndham story (I have most of the SF magazined in digital format and read the best/most anthologised stories chronologically) I'll be extra alert and watch for copycatting.

Norman Boyd said...

Interesting. I've read a load of Wyndham, but not much 'pulp' science-fiction, but shall watch out for that in future! Thanks for contributing and who knows someone reading this may get a thesis out of this - after all there is an archive at Liverpool University