September 10, 2006

The Day of the Triffids

John Wyndham's "The Day of the Triffids" is one of the classics in post-apocalyptic literature, and I finally got around to reading it this week. Written in the early 1950's and set in England, the book ages well.

This is written as a personal journal by a survivor who writes a few years after the first scene. The background is that, either through some kind of alien invasion or bio-engineering gone wrong, spores of a new species of plant called a triffid are released. Within a few years, this plant has spread worldwide, largely due to intentional cultivation since triffids have lots of naturally valuable side products that come from harvesting them.

Triffids also seem intelligent and sometimes hostile. The grow to man-sized or larger, are mobile (but can't see), instinctively intelligent, and they sport a poison lash with a range of a dozen feet or more that has great aim for the head. They also make a clicking noise that almost sounds like communication.

Once they become widespread, the Earth encounters some sort of comet (or maybe a satellite bombing) that makes about 99% of people blind. Amid the widespread panic, the few sighted people try to find one another and figure out the future, and the triffids begin systematically attacking humans.

Most of the story involves the diarist, a man named Bill, as he moves from one situation to another, trying to find a group, getting separated from a group, trying to survive by scavenging for necessities in deserted cities and fighting off swarms of hostile triffids.

It wasn't great, but I'm sure for its time, it was quite a startling novel. Definitely worth checking into if you like this genre.

Posted by Observer at September 10, 2006 09:10 AM

Comments on entries can only be made in pop-up windows while those entries are still on the main index page. Sorry for the inconvenience this causes, but this blocks about 99.99% of the spam the blog receives.

If it's not there already, add "Earth Abides" by George R Stewart to the queue.

Love that post-apocalyptic scifi.

Posted by: Humbaba on September 10, 2006 04:09 PM

There was a BBC production of this story, actually. Typical BBC 1970s/1980s special fx (think good old Doctor Who!) but not too bad.

Posted by: Phil on September 10, 2006 04:52 PM

This was one of the first science fiction novels I ever read. From memory it was quite decent. I saw a sequel ("The night of the triffids", if I recalled correctly) in a bookstore a few months back, but it was written by someone else and as such I didn't bother picking it up.

There's a terrible tradition in sf of new authors picking the sucessful francises of dead or retired authors. I've yet to see any of sequels be even remotely decent.

Posted by: Andrew on September 10, 2006 08:26 PM

There was a reference at the end of the book to another journal that takes up where the author left off, but I assumed that wasn't for real. I actually wouldn't mind reading further in the story, if it is decent.

I will pick up "Earth Abides" next time I see it at Half-Price.

Posted by: Observer on September 10, 2006 08:37 PM

Oh yeah, I almost forgot: "Hook 'em!" :)

I had fun watching the game saturday night.

Posted by: Humbaba on September 11, 2006 12:11 PM

Whenever Texas loses, I always take some consolation knowing that it ruined Tom Hicks' day.

Posted by: Observer on September 11, 2006 09:37 PM