Author Monica McInerney had this to say about it:
The Chrysalids by John Wyndham was what I call my bridge book. It was my first book to read that wasn't Enid Blyton, Trixie Belden, you know, like children's books. And it was the book that introduced me to a whole world of adult fiction. So it was the one that I walked across into a big, wider world of books. [Read the full transcript on the ABC website]
To a certain extent ‘The Chrysalids’ was my bridge book, too.
However I took my first steps into the world of adult fiction with the help of a number of authors, including (in no particular order):
- John Wyndham – whose six-book omnibus I borrowed from the British Council library (which was my second home in Islamabad during the early 1990s)
- Alistair MacLean – whose war novels my mother was very fond of and that, later, got me into John le Carré, Robert Ludlum, Arthur Hailey, and James Clavell
- Agatha Christie – whose books the whole family read and loved (though I never got into the crime and true crime genres as I got older…probably because I was too busy getting into science fiction!)
- Anne McCaffrey – whose ‘Brain & Brawn Ship’ series totally blew me away (I didn’t read her ‘Dragonriders of Pern’ series till much later)
- Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov – whose short stories made me fall completely in love with science fiction (it also helped, I think, that my bridge television shows were ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’, ‘Cosmos: A Personal Voyage’ with Carl Sagan, and a bunch of Jacques Cousteau films that I don’t remember the names of)
What These Authors Did For Me
Of all those books, I think the ones that really opened my mind were Wyndham’s ‘The Day of the Triffids’ and ‘The Chrysalids’. I suspect that’s because they were among the first adult-level first person narratives I’d read. And, as someone who has a younger sister, David and Petra’s relationship in ‘The Chrysalids’ was something I related very strongly to.
The stories that inspired me the most were probably the Clarke and Asimov short stories. I both wanted to be and had a huge crush on Susan Calvin and was generally looking forward a world in which Multivac existed.
Finally, the books that got me thinking the most about people, society, and politics were the ones by McCaffrey, Christie, and MacLean. Also, I think the first few books I ever read in which people simply lived and worked in space – as opposed to went exploring in space – were McCaffrey’s.
Newer Bridges to Cross
In more recent years (the last fifteen or so) the latest literary “bridge” I’ve crossed has been into Young Adult (YA) fiction. And the authors that have led the charge in that crossing have (so far) been J.K. Rowling, Suzanne Collins, and Philip Pullman.
What were your bridge books and who were your bridge authors?