01/09/2008. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts
pub: Penguin. 272 page paperback. Price: £ 7.99 (UK), $16.00 (CAN). ISBN: 978-141-03300-6.
check out website: www.penguin.com
'The Day Of The Triffids' is one of five of John Wyndham's book being re-issued by Penguin in September this year. It has stirred the imagination sufficiently to have a film and a BBC TV series based on the story. Wyndham is one of the few SF authors whose works have been transferred to the screen so it's important to examine the source to see what made it so popular.
If anything, the strongest lesson that can be learnt from Wyndham is that he keeps things rooted in reality. That is, he has extra-ordinary things happen to ordinary people thus maintaining the everyman fixture needed for you, the reader, to relate as to what is going on.
With this particular story, practically the entire population of the world is blinded by a spectacular lightshow from a meteorite show. The only ones unaffected are those working in places like mines or in the case of Bill Masen, waiting for his bandages to come off his eyes. He'd suffered a near-miss sting from a plant called a triffid, a rather carnivorous walking plant whose seeds were rich in vegetable oil hence their cultivation. With no one to see (sic) to them, the triffids began to spread out looking for prey. Into this mix, we follow Masen as he has to get out of London, avoiding dangerous street gangs and begin to re-group in a world where a sighted man is not only king but a needed necessity.
If the pattern seems familiar, then it should dawn on you that Wyndham's book has been used as the template for many a story since. The reason for that is that whatever the year written, this book was 1951, humans will still react in similar ways. They will want to have a pecking order and their own type of rule which kind of gets in the way ensuring everyone survives rather than who is boss. This must surely hit a chord in everyone. Wyndham was there first and of all these books release makes for essential reading.
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