Nicholas Fisk

Posted in Quick Read · Jan. 24, 2017, 11:23 a.m. · 255 words

There's a strange repeating process I've noticed on social media over the past several years, which is that every few months British people of my generation will be talking about their favourite childhood books and suddenly everyone will remember that Nicholas Fisk existed.

People may have forgotten Fisk's name but they remember his stories. 25 years ago his novels were in the children's section of seemingly every library in the UK. Librarians must have loved him. He wrote sf and fantasy and horror for what would probably now be called middle-grade readers; his books were often unsettling and they left an indelible mark. There was Grinny, a sort of sinister flip-side to Mary Poppins. Monster Maker, a fantasy-horror story set in a special-effects studio, which was adapted for television by Jim Henson.

And Time Trap, an odd, troubling book about gang violence and an antiseptic future and time travel and the Blitz: a book I didn't read so much as worry at, the way a dog worries at a bone. I would borrow it from the library every few weeks and try to decide if I liked it. (Last year I happened to notice that my local library had a copy, so I borrowed it again. I'm still trying to make up my mind about it.)

Fisk died last year at the age of 92, after a long retirement. I only ever knew him through his books, and I regret never getting the chance to meet him. I hope he knew how much he mattered.