What a curiosity this is! While frequently multiple authors adopt single author pseudonyms, here we have a single author, John Beynon Harris, publishing a work as by "John Wyndham and Lucas Parkes"-- two of his pseudonyms. There has been speculation that the author was not altogether confident in this work to place it solely under the Wyndham byline. But nobody seems to know for sure why Harris used the collaborative byline. _The Outward Urge_ (1959, 1961) is certainly not the classic to match _Day of the Triffids_ (1952), _Out of the Deeps_ (1953), _Re-Birth_ (1955), and _The Midwich Cuckoos_ (1957). But it is hardly a contemptible piece of writing.
The publishing history of the stories in _The Outward Urge_ is a bit complicated and perhaps deserves a bit of explanation. The original 1959 book consisted of four chapters entitled "The Space Station A.D. 1994," "The Moon A.D. 2044," "Mars A.D. 2094," and "Venus A.D. 2144". They were based on magazine stories. However, there were not one but _two_ magazine versions of each story-- one British and one American. The British versions all appeared in _New Worlds_ in 1958. They were: "For All the Night," "Idiot's Delight," "The Thin Gnat-Voices," and "Space is a Province of Brazil". The American versions all appeared in _Fantastic_ with the chapter titles from the book in 1958, 1958, 1959, and 1959 respectively.
In 1960, Wyndham wrote a fifth Troon story. This appeared in _New Worlds_ in 1960 as "The Emptiness of Space" and in _Amazing_ as "The Asteroids, 2194". It was made a part of a new edition of _The Outward Urge_ in 1961. Most versions of the book today are the five-chapter book. I trust that all is now clear.
In _City_ (1952), Clifford D. Simak wrote a chronicle novel about the Websters, a family with a stay-at-home urge. Wyndham writes about the Troons, a family with the opposite kind of urge that sends--nay, drives-- them out into space.
We first meet Ticker Troon, working on a space station, "a wheel-like cage of lattice girders, one hundred and forty feet in diameter, and twenty-four feet thick" (15). At great sacrifice, Ticker saves the station from a missle. Next, we see Ticker's son commanding a Moon Base and forced and making some hard decisions as atomic war decimates the northern hemisphere of Earth. Still later, we see another Troon on Mars. But not on an expedition sponsored by the United States, Russia, or Britain. The balance of power has shifted to Brazil in the wake of the war. And in the fourth story, George Troon leads a maverick expedition from Australia to the swamps of Venus in the hopes of opening up space. In the final story, we see a Troon almost miraculously rescued from death only to be condemned to a peculiar psychological hell on Earth.
Some readers of today may find the stories a bit dated from a strictly historical view. The lunar landings didn't happen that way, and our space stations aren't wheel-shaped. Venus isn't a big marsh. We haven't had a nuclear war (yet). But these things really don't matter. What matters is Wyndham's rounded characters, his old-fashioned storytelling ability, and his smooth, low-key style. He makes you _believe_ in his history of space when you are reading the Troon chronicles. He pulls you into his world. That is what counts.