The Day of the Triffids

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The Day of the Triffids

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1CD1am
Nov 2, 2008, 1:12pm

Use this to discuss The Day of the Triffids.

2ronincats
Nov 3, 2008, 12:00am

Done! But the system is going down NOW!

3LolaWalser
Nov 3, 2008, 8:28am

Oh, have we decided? I have to go dig out that book...

4ronincats
Nov 3, 2008, 12:00pm

I finished the book yesterday exactly 30 seconds before the system went down overnight (that's 9:00 PST, so I wasn't burning the midnight oil). I figure it's been 40 years since I read it the first time, so wondered how it would age--gracefully or not. I want to wait to discuss it until more people have finished it yet, though, so let me know when you do!

5billiejean
Nov 4, 2008, 2:04am

I just finished the book today. With the opening words, the movie started coming back to me.
--BJ

6bobmcconnaughey
Nov 4, 2008, 4:37am

ok.. I need to get over to UNC library pronto...they have it available and i have a "friends of the library" card, so can check out ,but not, evidently, put books on hold. i don't think this is one i'd want to keep so don't want to buy another book to give to the local public library.

7iansales
Nov 4, 2008, 5:13am

I'll have to drop into Waterstone's one lunchtime this week. Happily, Penguin have recently published a new edition of The Day of the Triffids, so it's easily obtainable.

8LolaWalser
Nov 10, 2008, 8:44am

Finished! I thought it was very good. Amazingly fresh and relevant for a nearly 60 years old sf book. Human-wrought disaster provides a GMO species with an unforeseen opportunity to take over earth--why, it COULD happen.

I appreciate all the little details--the fact that the hero was spared thanks to an incident involving the same threat (as opposed to slipping on a banana peel), the increasing misery and danger of the blind, the long and uncertain journey to reunion with Josella, Susan's passion in exterminating triffids etc.

And Wyndham's great at sketching "live" characters with minimal word expenditure--Coker, Miss Durrant, the Colonel, the redheaded neofascist, even the blind girl who offers herself to Bill and appears only on two pages.

I like his flashes of humour too, very dry, and never interfering with the horror--the descriptions of triffids' lurching gait felt both comical and terrifyingly menacing.

9billiejean
Nov 10, 2008, 9:41am

I really liked this book as well. I found all the moral dilemmas thought-provoking. I was wondering what I would choose to do under those difficult circumstances. I thought it was definitely a cold war book. However, I think that the implications of the book are still applicable today. I could not put this book down. I will probably read more by this author.
--BJ

10ronincats
Nov 11, 2008, 12:54pm

Glad some others are finishing up. I'm afraid I'll forget things I wanted to discuss if I wait much longer. I thought this book held up very well in the 57 years since it was written, primarily due to its themes, which as Lola said are still very relevant. I was also impressed that it had a relatively fully-fleshed out female character who was presented as an equal to the male protagonist. The moral dilemmas presented are very pertinent and presented with brutal clarity.

The setting was clearly very much in a post-war, Cold War political atmosphere. What do you think could have been the earliest date for this to happen? Sputnik went into the air in 1957. The economy had to have transitioned from petroleum products to triffid oil. We don't have computers or cell phones or much modern technology. Maybe the mid-60's realistically, or do you think it would have taken longer to have a sky full of satellites and a plant-oil based economy? I think Wyndham was definitely looking at a near-future scenario.

11bobmcconnaughey
Editado: Nov 21, 2008, 10:00am

almost done...DotTriffids is much better than i expected it to be; Wyndam's a brisk and clear stylist, there's a leavening of humor (esp. in re the expectations of some that "the Americans are coming, the Americans are coming." I'm very much tempted to buy new copy of the omnibus collection that i checked out of the library..which given my current semi-ban on buying new books is high praise from my end. I like the working out of the "laws of unintended market consequences" in the real world. I hope Susan survives...(30 pages or so to go...) - she's my favorite character.

(I've been very good about not skipping to the end to see how everything works out and then resuming reading, as i almost always used to do w/ mysteries....my wife and son HATE my predilection for spoilers - but the world is enough of a bummer these days..not sure i want my books to reinforce that despair....evil greedheads or incompetent ideologues? USA/RIP you be the judge.)

12ronincats
Nov 21, 2008, 10:01am

Do we forgive the huge infodump in chapter 2 because of the age of the book and the style of the times? (I have to ask my questions now, because the book is due back at the library this weekend!)

13geneg
Nov 21, 2008, 10:12am

Just got mine in the mail, yesterday and got a couple of pages read last night. Will soldier on from here to the end.

14LolaWalser
Nov 21, 2008, 10:20am

Bob, Penguin issued several Wyndham's books in the "Twentieth century classics" series, and I see that NYRB recently came out with "The Chrysalids" (maybe they'll publish more of him too). In case you're interested in nice new editions.

#12

Uh, don't remember the infodump... Or didn't think of it that way. What do you mean?

15ronincats
Nov 21, 2008, 10:26am

Well, chapter 2 just consists of his telling us all the background, both personal and social, for the story. Typically in modern books, it seems that when this is done and not integrated into the story line itself, people call it an infodump.

16LolaWalser
Nov 21, 2008, 10:34am

Hm, I guess I don't see it that way. The story's told in first person, so to me the info about himself serves like an ordinary introduction--"this is who I am, this is what happened to me". Moreover (and I think this may be the reason for it), it introduced the triffids as an element that existed in the society for a while (almost all of Bill's life), whose latent threat no one (except maybe that friend of Bill's) seems to have understood. Makes for fine paranoia in our day too!

17richardderus
Nov 22, 2008, 12:37pm

I didn't experience the chapter 2 issue ronincats brings up as an infodump, either. To me, the first-person narrative makes this a permissible story-telling strategy. YMMV, of course, and I certainly think there are things that the book's pub date should be used to contextualize (Josella's characterization, f/ex, would not fly in today's world because so much is made of her being "out there" on the forefront of liberated thinking).

In this time of fearful concern over genetically manipulated Frankenfoods, the triffids should give this book a fresh and timely aura, IMHO.

18geneg
Nov 22, 2008, 12:48pm

So far (I'm about half way, Frustration is the next chapter) this book just sounds like a treatment for a screen play. It sounds like the inspiration for "28 Days" as well. In fact, so far, it's the same story.

I'm pleasantly surprised and impressed. Overall, so far it could be a Graham Greene "entertainment".

19ronincats
Nov 22, 2008, 1:52pm

Lola and Richard, I don't necessarily see it as an infodump in a pejorative manner, and my question was to all of you as to whether it came across as one or as a plausible part of the story. Actually, I agree with you. I was trying to stir up some discussion.

20richardderus
Nov 22, 2008, 3:34pm

>19 ronincats: ronincats, I seeeeeee...to me, the term "infodump" is always pejorative. It's a semantics thing, then, not a substantive disagreement. Yeah, used without its negative personal freight, then I agree that the question of flow is one for debate. I come down on the side of the flow NOT being interrupted by the backstory. I think it was well handled, well as well-handled as such a thing can be; Wyndham starts the chapter with "This is a personal record." That's the jumping-off place for the character's memories. That was, for me, an adequate narrative frame for the purpose of keeping the important sense of forward momentum present in the 18pp (in my Modern Library reprint) it takes to put readers in the picture.

I think I was lulled into acquiescence by Wyndham's style, as well: "Such a swerve of interest from swords to plowshares was undoubtedly a social improvement, but, at the same time, it was a mistake for the optimistic to claim it as showing a change in the human spirit." (p21, Mod. Lib. reprint) Understatedly gives the reader a sense of the narrator's already extant character and informs the retentive reader that later dark musings the narrator indulges in are not due to a freshly developed case of the post-apocalyptic blahs.

Then this chilling bit: "But there were a number of not unobvious characteristics which escaped comment for some little time. It was, for instance, quite a while before anyone drew attention to the uncanny accuracy with which {the triffids} aimed their stings, and that they almost invariably struck for the head. Nor did anyone at first take notice of their habit of lurking near their fallen victims. The reason for that became clear only when it was shown that they fed upon flesh as well as insects. The stinging tendril did not have the muscular power to tear firm flesh, but it had strength enough to pull shreds from a decomposing body and lift them to the cup on its stem." (p31, Mod. Lib. reprint) EEEEEEEEEEEEWWWWWWWWWW

But how much more effective and chilling and revolting and scary when delivered in the even, measured voice of a scientist-cum-post-traumatic-stress-survivor instead of screeched at us. The narrator's reliability is well established with the reader at this point, and later horrors are subtly magnified by the unconscious impression of trustworthiness this kind of technique provides.

REAL horror, not gore: that sense of unspeakable and terrifying things happening on a Wednesday afternoon at four pm, not in some horrible abbatoir at midnight where I the reader/moviegoer know for sure and certain there are not enough wild horses to drag me.

Uh oh. I'm hearing crickets chirping. Better clam up.

21LolaWalser
Nov 22, 2008, 5:22pm

Great post, Richard, I think you explain well how Wyndham achieves that realistic tone. Agree about the horror in his books too. It's chilly, calm but inexorable, like a tightening grip, not a splatter "Boo!" (And if you liked that in this book, you'd love The Midwich cuckoos.)

22richardderus
Nov 22, 2008, 5:28pm

>21 LolaWalser: Lola, I was turned off The Midwich Cuckoos by the movie they made of it...Children of the Damned, or Village of the Damned, or some such...couldn't abide it. Book's better, then?

23LolaWalser
Nov 22, 2008, 5:34pm

I haven't seen any movies made after Wyndham's books, so can't speak for them. But, if you liked The Day of the Triffids, I think you are almost certain to like the Cuckoos.

24geneg
Nov 22, 2008, 7:28pm

I just finished this smashing little read. What a wonderful book. Chapter 2, the infamous infodump chapter was a grand way to set the scene. Nowadays the author would spend two hundred pages building up a world that would need just a hundred pages to tear down, and probably still not do as good a job as Wyndham.

I am thoroughly impressed!

25LolaWalser
Nov 22, 2008, 7:32pm

Success!

26richardderus
Nov 23, 2008, 12:20am

Great news, geneg! I was completely impressed as well, and plan to recommend this book to the hoi polloi in my RL book circle...not a group receptive to SF as a rule.

27andyl
Nov 23, 2008, 5:03am

In its day Triffids was a best seller amongst the general reading public (not that Britain had best-seller lists then) and was serialised in Collier's in the US so it shouldn't be too SFnal for the general crowd today.

For those who liked this and haven't read much other Wyndham I can recommend The Kraken Wakes as well as The Midwich Cuckoos

28bobmcconnaughey
Nov 23, 2008, 7:39am

well i'm glad i got turned on to Wyndham - maybe it was the movies (that i never saw) that kept me away - i dunno...but defn. 1st rate "pre-new wave" Brit sf. Not that scientists can't panic as well as anyone - but having the POV that of a biologist who'd known something about the "aliens" among us, and kept his vision fairly .. calm..underscored the severity of the situation nicely. As w/ most post-apocalyptic stories, the initial mechanism isn't all that important (well..the rise of the triffids IS an economic critique of sorts; the blinding is pretty much a deux ex machina happening - but that's OK as the story's about personal and social reaction to the events and not the event in itself. ) I, too, enjoyed the large cast of characters who, however briefly on stage, were well deployed and described.

29LolaWalser
Editado: Nov 23, 2008, 9:54am

the blinding is pretty much a deux ex machina happening

Oooh, I must strongly disagree, this actually gets to the crux of why I think the Triffids are a small triumph of plotting... The global blinding was caused by a nuclear catastrophe in the satellite belt, whose existence was due to the Cold War--the same circumstances that enabled the triffids' haphazard and unknowingly dangerous appearance outside the Iron Curtain. You could say this is a cautionary tale about Human Error on cosmic scale--and I don't mean unconscious fumbling, but moral "errors" such as warfare, institutionalised terror, lack of communication (enforced secrecy, in fact), scientistic hubris, criminal negligence in the name of political expediency...

Some people knew what that the green lightshow was--or at least had a better guess than most. Even if they couldn't have predicted the outcome, if they'd alarmed the population and urged caution--if nothing else, the dangers of radioactivity were known--perhaps the catastrophe would have been less grave. Instead, they let the media invite everyone to fireworks! (Wyndham must have had a streak of black humour in him.)

So the world goes blind (that has a symbolic charge too), and yesterday's thoughtlessness blooms into today's nightmare.

Anyway, as far as the writing goes, the manner, the causes of blinding, far from being contrived, is actually THE reason for writing the story, and THE reason FOR the story.

30desultory
Nov 23, 2008, 10:40am

I've enjoyed reading this thread - nice to see everyone united in enthusiasm for a book - so much so that I'll dig it out and read it again myself.

It's about 30 years since the first go, when I loved it, so this'll be interesting.

31richardderus
Nov 23, 2008, 11:34am

>29 LolaWalser: Lola says: You could say this is a cautionary tale about Human Error on cosmic scale--and I don't mean unconscious fumbling, but moral "errors" such as warfare, institutionalised terror, lack of communication (enforced secrecy, in fact), scientistic hubris, criminal negligence in the name of political expediency...

Yeah! What she said!

I particularly appreciate the lovely rhetorical tautology of "scientistic hubris," though it sent me to the dictionary to be sure I was getting the right meaning of scientistic..."Unlike the use of the scientific method as only one mode of reaching knowledge, scientism claims that science alone can render truth about the world and reality. Scientism's single-minded adherence to only the empirical, or testable, makes it a strictly scientifc worldview, in much the same way that a Protestant fundamentalism that rejects science can be seen as a strictly religious worldview. Scientism sees it necessary to do away with most, if not all, metaphysical, philosophical, and religious claims, as the truths they proclaim cannot be apprehended by the scientific method. In essence, scientism sees science as the absolute and only justifiable access to the truth." (What a wonderful thing is the PBS website.) The very definition of hubris lurks unacknowledged in defining the theoretical underpinnings of a non-numinous world...beautifully done, Lola.

Oh, and I agree about the argument you're making, too.

32LolaWalser
Editado: Nov 23, 2008, 12:17pm

And I make it as a scientist!

That PBS description sounds a bit too vague for my taste (before you say that the scientific method is or isn't the only mode of "reaching knowledge", explain what kind of "knowledge" you mean), and doesn't really cover the meaning I had in mind, which was of a techno-authoritarian worldview privileged over any other at the expense of wisdom and safety (because tech is so powerful).

33richardderus
Nov 23, 2008, 12:16pm

It does lack precision, that description, but anything more detailed or accurate would have taken a little too much space, and I couldn't boil it down the way you just did. Must be the scientific method in which you're steeped.

;-)

34sdobie
Nov 24, 2008, 10:37am

I read Triffids for the first time about 20 years ago, and rereading it now it still holds up quite well. I can see how this book has probably formed the basis for a lot of later end-of-the world stories. Wyndham manages to pack a lot of story into under two hundred pages. The moral choices that the characters has to make were interesting, and not just a simple black or white, especially in the way that Coker could come to admit that his attempt to do what he saw was right was in fact a mistake. The only thing that seems a little off is that the story seems like it would be taking place in the 1970's or 1980's, but society has not changed at all, and the characters seem more like they are still in the 1950's, but I guess that trying to extrapolate and explain social changes in society on top of everything else would have been too much for the book.

I do wonder what the purpose of the triffids really is in the story. The blinding itself is enough to bring down civilization, and to provide the cautionary message. The triffids don't really play a major role until late in the story. They do seem to provide a means to unify most of the remnants of humanity in the fight against a common enemy, and provide a reason to quickly rebuild civilization.

I just got a copy of The Chrysalids from Early Reviewers, and am looking forward to reading that.

35andyl
Nov 24, 2008, 10:52am

#34

Well the pace of change in society was much slower in the 1940s. At the time Wyndham wrote Triffids things weren't that different from the 1900s (except for a few more motor cars). I don't think many writers in 1950 would have predicted the massive social changes that really happened.

36andyl
Nov 24, 2008, 10:58am

As the story starts on Wednesday 8 May it must be either 1974 or 1985 if set in the 70s or 80s.

37andyl
Nov 24, 2008, 10:59am

Esta mensagem foi removida pelo seu autor.

38LolaWalser
Nov 24, 2008, 11:06am

People don't do a very good job in predicting social changes, do they? For instance, those early SF writers would come up en masse with most amazing technical innovations, but nothing as simple, say, as a black fleet commander.

So, Wyndham rolls out the story extrapolating nicely from the tech of the times--nuclear weapons, plant breeding--but then has the heroine be "scandalous" because she wrote... what was it, oh yeah, great title actually: "Sex is my adventure".

39geneg
Editado: Nov 24, 2008, 11:17am

I thought "Sex is My Adventure" was a great way to introduce her necessary forward thinking on the issue of baby farming. Every male's (or most, anyway) fantasy.

40LolaWalser
Nov 24, 2008, 11:19am

Yeah, I think the idea was that she's no demure miss. I was so grateful for the lack of swooning and screaming.

41bobmcconnaughey
Editado: Nov 24, 2008, 9:29pm

well..i can't think of the right phrase..but the "comets" struck me as a deux ex humana, at least...i thought the triffids were way cool..not necessarily as things in themselves, but, as several people have noted, as an economic cautionary fable. This was around the time of the "green revolution" iirc, when global hunger was gonna be eliminated via progress in "scientific" agriculture...well..the green revolution worked pretty well for a while..but....it resulted in monocultures that were very susceptible to plant diseases; resulted in the demise of the family farm from Iowa to India...it took lots of money to purchase the inputs (fertilizer, seeds, etc) to make the green revolution "work;" forced a lot of small farmers off the farms into urban poverty; consumed LOTS more natural resources (from water to oil); resulted in crops that, in general, were less nutritious; and, in general, had a lot of negative results that no one anticipated...nor, given the knowledge at the time, perhaps could have anticipated (though..i'm not sure about that last statement).

As an aside, my bro is a pediatrician who spent the first 10 yrs of practice working in a rural clinic and then for the next 10 years in an urban, relatively high end practice, that DID take some medicaid patients, and also was a teaching doc at a state med. school. He noted that while his patients were often equally "poor," at least when he started out, his rural poor patients were generally MUCH healthier than the urban medicaid kids..simply because their families had gardens. He's gone back to being a rural, full time, medicaid pediatrician, in the same area where he started, and the most obvious problems he sees are related to food...food gardens having become largely a thing of the past in 20+ odd yrs in rural Virginia.

42geneg
Nov 24, 2008, 9:24pm

With the rise of diabetes, cancers, and heart disease, we are slowly poisoning ourselves as a result of the agricultural revolution.

43LolaWalser
Nov 24, 2008, 10:20pm

To me the nuclear catastrophe that leads to the blinding is the Alpha of all the fears of those times. The book is in the sign of the Cold War. The nuclear weapons are aimed at the Earth because of it, the West doesn't hear of the Soviet-invented triffids because of it, nor of their accidental release, and the entire globe goes blind because the two sides aren't communicating even in the aftermath of this ultimate catastrophe. Somebody must have been tracking the weapons, no? Somebody must have noticed they were set off.

So, while I suppose Wyndham wanted to create that dramatic situation of total blindness for its own sake--little compares to the power and horror of it--and so needed some way to do it, I think the idea he hit upon is marvellously chosen, because it reflects the real dangers of the times.

I was off the track in the beginning, I thought it was going to be some alien invasion thing, with aliens attacking earth and deploying the triffids as a weapon--much more trite than the actual story.

44rojse
Nov 29, 2008, 6:49pm

I quite enjoyed Day of the Triffids - a nice short story, but full of ideas. I can see the Cold-War paranoia in there, particularly the end scenes with the military dictators worried about threats from abroad, but I think the book is good enough to stand on it's own merits without considering this background.

The best part to me was that Wyndham created several different groups of survivors that all acted in different ways, and were quite plausible in the circumstances, going into enough detail to get some idea of how these groups might work without spending too much time getting bogged down in the minutae.

45rojse
Dez 3, 2008, 3:11am

Would it be reasonable to assume that most people that are going to read this book have done so already?

If this is the case, perhaps we could begin that long process of deciding upon a book worthy of our group's attentions.

46iansales
Dez 3, 2008, 4:17am

Sorry. I missed out on this one. I'd seen the new Penguin edition in my local Waterstone's, but when I went to buy it they'd gone. And I had other books I really needed to finish... Given the comments, I'm a bit sorry I did miss it. I'll try harder next time. Honest.

47geneg
Dez 3, 2008, 9:24am

I've set up a thread for the selection of our third book here.

48GwenH
Editado: Dez 30, 2008, 12:39pm

I FINALLY had a chance to finish this book over the Christmas holidays. I'll post my initial thoughts right here and then go back and read the previous discussion and post again if that triggers anything new. I haven't done any reading about the book yet either, so my reactions could easily just be "more of the same."

I enjoyed this book overall. The initial hospital scene with its feeling of vague dread made me think of the opening to a Lovecraft story. However, it quickly became more chatty with a "can do" attitude" once Bill Mason began to figure out the situation. I was perfectly ok with either. It's a style that's a bit dated but a nice relief from the frequent space opera gradiosity or the sardonic I'm above-it-all attitudes of recent years.

First what bugged me. It bugged me that the book had not one, but two, unusual sources of blindness - both the meteor shower triggered devices covering the entire planet and the triffids, which in the book at least were two separate things. A plague quickly wiping out the majority of the population also seemed rather convenient.

I also spent the book waiting for something to come of the idea that the triffids were communicating by thumping their twiggy parts (getting twiggy with it?). I half expected to discover in the early scene on the triffid farm that the triffids had understood comments about how vulnerable a blind person was and coordinated the blinding sky shower. Instead, it seems left as a coincidence. I might also have had these expectations based on a long ago viewing of the movie.

There's a good side to it though. I think the theme is much more important with the triffids being a researched development of man. As with many stories in the 50s, this is a general parallel to the development of atomic power. As atomic power can be used to provide a city with lights or to make the bomb that wipes out a city, so the triffids could provide a source of high quality oil or wipe out a city. It remains a worthy theme theme in my book since we haven't stopped developing double edged technology with mixed consequences.

The character reactions occasionally strained credulity. It seems those blinded either felt death was a better alternative or they didn't seem to reflect on their blindness much at all. However, it was tale of a civilization's survival, not a character study, so I could easily overlook what I might otherwise consider a shortcoming.

The timeframe initially bothered me as well. Things sunk into chaos within hours. I might have bought it if the city had been physically leveled, but the morning after the meteor shower...well, maybe I overestimate people. As time went on however, it was clear a lot more time was being covered. Unfortunately, I didn't get a sense of it at times, when Wyndham would have months or years pass in a single sentence to that effect.

However, the progression of the survival tactics and redevelopment felt quite credible even though the book was written decades ago. I wouldn't even expect it would be so terribly different if it were to happen today, except maybe people would be suffering from internet withdrawal in addition to the plague! I thought Wyndham did a nice job of the survival details and the different social organizations and individual personalities that might appear. I appreciated the presentation of women with the potential to be equally competent leading a group of blind (Josella) or fighting triffids (Susan).

I'm glad to have read the book. Now, time to go stockpile a bit more non-perishable food....

(edit - cause my typos bug me!)

49GwenH
Editado: Jan 1, 2009, 3:02pm

I've read through the posts now - sorry I missed the discussion when it was current.

I see many posters also appreciated the enduring relevance of the story for its treatment of the potential for man-made disasters.

As with some others, this book has gotten me interested in reading some other works by Wyndham.

Re: the discussion about the global blinding. I have to say, I come down on the side of overly contrived. I think it was a great idea to have man-made devices accidentally triggered. However, to have the whole world go blind - I have trouble imagining such even global coverage of the triggered devices. I have an even bigger skepticism about the whole world getting themselves out to stare at the light show. People are just too darn lazy. However, it didn't detract from the story for me or the theme of double-edged technology.

#8 LolaWalser - And Wyndham's great at sketching "live" characters with minimal word expenditure

I agree Wyndham is good with the quick character sketch, though I still think there wasn't much deeper character development overall. However, the detailed "character" development was in the details of disaster recovery which made the book work for me.

# 12 ronincats - Do we forgive the huge infodump in chapter 2 because of the age of the book and the style of the times?

As with others, I didn't notice this as an infordump. What I did notice was the use of lengthy flashbacks - something that isn't done so much these days. I just chalked it up to the fact that fashions (and literary devices) come and go. It woudn't have stood out in a time when it was more commonly used in novels.

#20 richardderus - But how much more effective and chilling and revolting and scary when delivered in the even, measured voice of a scientist-cum-post-traumatic-stress-surv... instead of screeched at us.

I have to completely agree. Stuff that's overtly horror and gore I turn away before experiencing it. A style like Wyndham's style, lulls you in and gets you experiencing it as the creepiness and chill sets in slowly. I also like that he didn't try to sustain it through the entire book. It was broken up by periods of focusing on the practicalities of post-disaster life, and bits of humor.

#11 bobmcconnaughey - Wyndam's a brisk and clear stylist, there's a leavening of humor (esp. in re the expectations of some that "the Americans are coming, the Americans are coming."

Completely agree and I got a good chuckle out of the Americans bit as well.

50GwenH
Jan 1, 2009, 3:01pm

And, to complete this discussion with myself, I bring you a bit from todays news:

Poison shrub oil powers New Zealand airline flight
Thu, Jan 1 09:33 AM

Oil from the seeds of a poisonous shrub helped power a New Zealand airliner in a test flight, at a time when airlines hit by high oil prices and pressured over the impact of planes on the environment seek greener fuels.

An Air New Zealand Boeing 747 flew for two hours on Dec. 30 with one of its four engines powered by a 50-50 mixture of jet fuel and jatropha oil, the airline said in a statement.

Jatropha is a plant that grows up to three metres and produces inedible fruits, which contain the oil. It is grown on arid and marginal land in India, parts of Africa and other countries, and has been touted for mass production for biofuels because it does not compete for resources with food crops.,


It's beginning.... ;-)

51richardderus
Jan 1, 2009, 3:23pm

>50 GwenH: GwenH, your points are well-taken, and now that you've read the thread and know what has come before...you come back with THIS tidbit and scare the bejabbers out of me!

Day of the Jatropha can't be far behind....

52rojse
Jan 4, 2009, 8:05pm

#50

I don't see how global blindness is an unrealistic proposition - if you were detonating nuclear devices in the atmosphere, everyone would see this sight in a day.

53GwenH
Jan 4, 2009, 10:15pm

I guess it depends on how long the show remains. It wasn't clear it was in the atmosphere to me, but I might have missed something. If it was a one night show as it appeared to be, I could easily see half the population too lazy to go outside to watch it.
I've glossed over harder to believe stuff. The bigger thing for me to buy was the two different sources of blindness in one story. (the light show and the triffids). Neither thing detracted from the story for me though.

54LolaWalser
Mar 17, 2009, 5:10pm

I saw recently the 1980 British TV production--quite good. I was especially impressed by the design of the triffids, the more so because the line between creepy and comic is so fine in the book.

The acting, as one grows to expect from the Brits, is impeccable. The scenery, costumes, even lighting mark it clearly as a "vintage" product, but one that's eminently watchable.

55CD1am
Maio 1, 2009, 5:49pm

I finally got Triffids from my library. Although I was not sure I would like a post apocalyptic story, I really enjoyed this book. It was so much better than anything else the group has read.

Although I mostly agreee with the positive reviews of Wyndham's skill at character development, I think the initial reaction of Susan was a major error. A child who would have felt deserted by her parants and then witnessed the attack on and death of her brother would have been traumatized, but she was depicted as recovering easily. Her anger at the "things" was realistic, but the rest of her emotional reactions were overlooked. I suppose the lack of real emotional reaction is true in general for the characters in Triffids. Everybody remained far too calm considering the extreme situation. Where was the rage many would have felt at the change in circumstances?

Since I am so late in reading this, I won't bother to comment more.

56GwenH
Maio 1, 2009, 6:55pm

CD1am - Triffids has been my favorite of the bunch too.

As for the reactions, I guess I gave them more leeway. When you are faced with a traumatic situation, sometimes all you can do is deal with it. People whine and cry about relatively minor things, but I'm not sure they have the energy for that when they are drawing on all their energy reserves just to cope with the immediate situation. That said, I had a policewoman apologize to me - she hadn't believed I'd been the victim of a violent crime because I had seemed too calm. Clearly, people expect strong reactions to strong situations.

57billiejean
Maio 2, 2009, 1:52am

I also loved this book. I am thinking of giving it to my brother for his birthday this year! The scope of the book was just about perfect for me -- not too big for me to keep involved.
--BJ