‘Web’ is a surprisingly pleasing addition to the career of John Wyndham. Published ten years after his death, it follows similar themes to several of his better known works.
After an episode of PTSD, our protagonist purchases an island in the south Pacific in order to create a utopia and get away from the strains of the western world. This is a very short book (140 pages) and a good 40+ at the beginning is taken up with a short history of the island, the first arrivals in the early 19th century, its annexation into the British Empire then onward to both world wars and its change of ownership during that time all the while the locals amuse themselves with the rare arrivals of the white man.
But it is in the aftermath of WWII that the story really begins to take shape. This was a period of testing nuclear weapons and an attempt is made to move the locals from the island and to another where they wouldn’t be in the path of the fallout.
Years later our group arrives on their utopia to discover that something isn’t quite right. There are spiders all over the island and they are evolving. Far from being a utopia, the humans become trapped by the freak of evolution.
The metaphor of humans no longer being the pinnacle of evolution is one used several times by Wyndham and it doesn’t feel tired or overused here, it is just presented in a different way in light of the era in which Wyndham was living in which he wrote it. It comes to a sudden end but felt that it could have should have been longer. The ending itself is not typical of Wyndham.