Saturday 22 September 2012

John Wyndham: Why 'Day of the Triffids' is his best book.

John Wyndham is hands down, one of the best science fiction writers of all time. His books have inspired countless remakes, re-imaginings, homages and parodies. Without knowing who he is you will know his stories, such as the 1960s cult classic 'The Village of the Dammed' based on 'The Midwich Cuckoos' and his best book, in my own personal opinion of course, is 'The Day of the Triffids'. Here's why...

I love this book, it was the first one of his that I'd read on a very good recommendation from a friend, and it introduced me to his writing style, which can be very scientifically technical without being boring or going completely over your head like some things.
The basic premise of this novel is that a meteor shower appears which scientists can't explain and  blinds everyone who has seen it, which is like everyone. Luckily for the lead protagonist, he's in hospital having a major eye operation and was covered up, missing the whole thing. He wakes up, removes his bandages to find  an almost empty London full of blind people shuffling around against walls, crying. It's classic sci-fi that is really creepy, unsettling and scary. If you've seen the opening to '28 days later' you'll know what I mean, as it was inspired by 'Triffids'.
If that's not enough for these people to deal with, there are these new breed of plants that can up stem and walk about with a bad temper and a vine that can kill people. They call them 'triffids' and it's these said plants that put our hero in the hospital in the first place, he works with them, you see it all ties together very nicely. The story evolves into a battle of survival not just against the damn plants but people taking advantage of the blind and the weak. With themes of human greed, slavery and the male and female gender roles of the time, the book covers a lot of ground.  It even has a dark humour in it's own way, made apparent in it's opening line. This is a book that really needs to be read to really appreciate it. It draws you in with intrigue, mystery, something dark and foreboding and refuses to let you go.
Now, I know what you're thinking; How in the bloody buggery hell can a plant be scary? Well it's all in Wyndham's writing, which unlike modern day horrors doesn't hand you everything on a plate but is more like an old Hicthcock film, it leaves a lot to the imagination, which can be more scary and much more effective. It's never really translated on to film very well, so there is still no definitive version, just a lot of crap ones. But that shouldn't take away from the book. 'Triffids' like many of his other novels contain such out there ideas, characters and creatures that it just works better in someones mind then up on the big screen.
I know some people are put off by the genre of sci-fi, but there isn't any flying through space, advanced scientific technology or robots, ok so there are moving killer plants but this book is really about people, their emotions at dealing with this apocalyptic situation, raw human fear and that's something that hasn't changed since 1951, when Wyndham wrote it. This book is simply about people struggling to survive in a new world,  and it's a very, very exciting ride.
What do you think? Do you agree or is there somthing  better? Please feel free to follow, comment, plus and share. 

1 comment:

  1. How dare you! The Triffids movie from the 60s was the best film of all time ha! Love love love Triffids but Chrysalids was better!