The first book I will be reading for Vintage Sci-Fi Month is The Day of The Triffids by John Wyndham. I have long wanted to read this book, so I’m happy for the prompting. I looked for this book for a couple of years in the book shops around town, finally finding it in a going out of business sale. As with most eagerly-sought books, I put it directly on the shelf, unread. Better late than never.
Wyndham seems to be an author who has had quite a bit of influence on the British sci-fi psyche. Many of his books have an apocalyptic flavor and as Triffids was published less than ten years after World War II ended, I’m not surprised. The war with Nazi Germany had ended and the Cold War had begun. These were not optimistic times. Wyndham has been praised for his ability to take world-wide catastrophe and scale it down to the personal level, filtering events through the eyes of a few individuals, thus creating an intimate feel for the drama and conflict.
The Day of the Triffids has been adapted twice for BBC television, once in 1981 and again in 2009. It has also influenced numerous works, not least of which is 28 Days Later. As I started reading the book, the narrator says,
“The way I came to miss the end of the world–well, the end of the world I had known for close on thirty years–was sheer accident: like a lot of survival, when you come to think of it. In the nature of thins a good many somebodies are always in hospital, and the law of averages had picked on me to be one of them a week or so before.”
28 Days Later did a direct homage to this when Cillian Murphy’s character Jim wakes up in the hospital after the rage virus has ravaged London. And it is also hard to not see traces of this in Dalek Invasion of Earth.
While this will be my first time with Triffids (I haven’t even seen the BBC adaptations . . . some Anglophile I am), it will not be my first Wyndham story. I heard a radio adaptation of Chrysalids once and it was quite compelling and horrifying. Yet, there was something oddly familiar about it. Wyndham seems brilliant at filtering his visions through a human lens that makes them familiar and real. I’m looking forward to this book.
So, what are the opinions out there about John Wyndham and Day of The Triffids?