Classic Science Fiction: 'Day of the Triffids' is dated but haunting

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/01/24/classic-science-fiction-day.html

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My recollection is that the movie version was also good, but that memory is from 12-year-old me watching the Creature Double Feature on Saturday afternoon TV, so it may not be 100 percent reliable.

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While the first film adaptation has little to do with the book besides premise I really enjoy it.

Also I like that the book is unclear about the Triffid origins. They could be space borne plants or some sort of genetic engineering by scientists unknown (I recall hints at Russians but it has been awhile) but they are definitely a stand in for slaves as they produce an oil that is a cheap energy source.

Also fun reads by Wyndham is The Chrysalids and The Midwich Cuckoos. The latter was made into the quite well done and worth seeing Village Of The Dammed in 1960.

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You can find it lurking about on Youtube and there are two BBC miniseries adaptations the first of which is very faithful to the source material.

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If you read Wyndham in the right order, he pretty much predicts 20th century pop culture. The Crysalids is a '50s take on mutant powers and paranoia 12 years before the X-men; The Kraken Wakes is a – ahem – dry run for the submerged sci-fi of The Abyss. day of the Triffids has such a great opening that both 28 Days Later AND The Walking Dead ripped off for their own purposes. He may have written, as J.G. Ballard famously dismissed them, “Cozy Catastrophes,” but he also wrote them well, and his stiff-upper-lip protagonists feel weary and wary post-War, something American sci-fi of the era lacks. (People who have had bombs dropped on them make different popular culture than those people who have not.) Wyndham may have been lesser name in '50s sci-fi, but his work has some bright spots that still, in reflection, shine. .

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1970’s Nine Princes in Amber by Zelazney steals it too.

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TDotT was recently reviewed (“English Country Garden”) by James Nicoll.

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Don’t waste your time with the original movie – if you can find the mini series done by the BBC, you will have a much better time. It is very well done and maintains much of the original premise of the book

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Yes, the narrator/protagonist (who knows more on the subject than your average man in the street) speculates the Russians created the Triffids, but there’s never any hard proof. He also wonders if the “cosmic debris” that blind everyone were actually from some sort of orbital weapons system that malfunctioned.

And yes, it’s still worth a read.

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and boomerang guns!

I do not think it at all fair to call it ‘dated’. It is no more dated than Dickens or Shakespeare, or Asimov’s Foundation, or … (I’ll stop now).

It is both of its time and also stands the test of time - both as a gripping read and as a parable. On this basis anything not written this century (and quite a lot that was) is ‘dated’.

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triffiddiagram

Wyndham was the master of the “Cozy Catastrophe”. Which is a very English thing.
I’ve re-watched Village of the Damned the other day, and it is still very entertaining.

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I love pretty much all of Wyndham’s work but those 3 are probably the best ones.

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This fine book is ALSO available at your local independent bookstore.

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If you walk in and order it. Unless there is a reissue going on, I haven’t seen it on the shelves since I found it used at A Change of Hobbit.

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The book probably aged better than the BBC show from '80.

Still charming, but those murderous foam shrubs are not threatening at all.

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beard

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I agree. Surely it’s possible and important to approach literature more than a generation old, else the children of today’s youngsters are going to be sadly short of perspective on their forbears.

Trouble With Lichen, Chocky, and Consider Her Ways (short stories) are also worth reading from Wyndham.

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I work at Powell’s and we’ve got plenty: https://www.powells.com/book/-9780812967128

Happy to ship anywhere! (And great article, BTW; it brought back fond memories of reading about the triffids from back in the day.)

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Powell’s is a frequent spot for me to visit, and a reason I am always willing to take meetings in Portland. Shop at Powell’s and eat at Cheryls. If it is late enough in the day, and I can get in, Whiskey Library with my stack of books.

Thank you guys for keeping a decent magic section. I always buy one or two titles.

Most local independent booksellers do not have Powell’s type of inventory tho.

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