As the plot of "Trouble with Lichen" meanders toward its conclusion, one may wonder if he/she missed the action. Often bogged down in exploring both philosophical sides of an argument, the book can be an interesting read. However, the execution in Wyndham's point is lacking.
Diana Brackley and Francis Saxover have made an amazing discovery from lichens that has the potential to allow the human lifespan to expand threefold. Diana and Francis unknowingly take the discovery in different directions, but are eventually faced with the same moral dilemmas. The effects of a change in lifespan are dramatic, effecting most every facet of life. Social and political forces are quick to react to these potential changes.
In the 21st century, many of the arguments presented by Wyndham in this work of fiction could be applied to modern issues such as stem cells. It is apparent from the tone of the book that Wyndham would side with the left. Fans of Wyndham will note this is typically the case in his books.
On many levels, this is a clever, thought-provoking read. Yet at times, it reads more like an argument on ethics with a work of science fiction in the background. As other reviewers have suggested, this is among Wyndham's lesser works.