Panama (spwebdesign) wrote,

Book 5

  1. Matheson, Richard — I Am Legend (161 pages)
  2. McCarthy, Cormac — No Country for Old Men (307 pages)
  3. Dexter, Gary — Why Not Catch 21?: The Stories Behind the Titles (213 pages)
  4. Ryman, Geoff — 253 (366 pages)
  5. Wyndham, John — The Day of the Triffids (267 pages)

Page count: 1314.

Last year I worked on the BBC My Science Fiction Life website just prior to its launch. The dummy copy of the site we were using was plastered with all sorts of stuff about Wyndham's The Day of the Triffids. I admit to never having heard of it before then, but the name and images from the website stuck with me. I could hardly step into a bookstore without thinking about it, but I always resisted the urge — until a couple of months ago.

I thought The Day of the Triffids might be some sort of action-packed Mars-invades sort of adventure, which is part of the reason I resisted picking this up for so long. Thus, I was surprised as I gradually discovered it was actually a post-apocalyptic novel, along the lines of Earth Abides or I Am Legend. The Day of the Triffids lacks the qualities that make those other two novels so special, though. It was an enjoyable story, well written in a distinctly 1950s voice, but nothing terribly compelling. Perhaps this is because it seems more political than philosophical; I can imagine how some of the ideas suggested within its pages would have unsettled readers during the height of the Cold War.

I find the title interesting as well. Triffids play a relatively small part in the novel. Most of the time they are simply an afterthought, totally absent from large chunks in the middle. Not that I'm complaining, mind you. A novel that spent too much prose on the triffids would have gotten old fast. Rather, triffids are rarely more than an inconvenience, one of many, as survivors attempt to pick up the pieces. A title that referenced blindness or survival would have been more descriptive, though I suppose the triffids are the one unique element in the novel.

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