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Day of the Triffids 
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Heinlein Nexus
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Post Day of the Triffids
Yes, I know this is over 50 years old. Someone recently mentioned it and it had been a long time since I read it, so I checked it out from the library. This copy has an interesting introduction penned for the fiftieth anniversary, evaluating it in the context of 9-11.

Wyndham is, I think, underrated, like a number of British authors (e.g., James Blish). Now you might think that anyone writing about the doom of mankind at the hand, er, tendril, of homicidal plants is justly underrated, but Wyndham sets it up expertly and credibly. The writing is spare and immediate: he does not waste time explaining the source of the meteor shower or how the triffids originated in Russia. He just gets right to the good stuff.

I think that the book is underappreciated because it is so veddy English - even though prim and proper English society had been dealt a massive attitude readjustment by WWII, by 1951 it still remained on a different social planet from the USA. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the Mrs. Grundy character who responds to an announcement by a Prof. de la Paz-type character that the surviving men will have to take multiple wives and the women make babies, with the frosty retort, "Is the speaker advocating Free Love?" And yet - and yet - Wyndham then goes on to make an impassioned pragmatic defense of the prof's argument, through no less a character than a young attractive female, who was not only quite capable but had recently penned a book titled, "Sex is My Adventure"! Hence my review of this book here - this section is positively Heinleinian. Given the publication date, it's debatable who influenced whom, if at all, of course.

It now reads as somewhat dated, not just for the slightly complex phrasing but also the attitudes of yesteryear - survivors feeling guilty at taking items from abandoned stores without paying for them seems regrettably quaint now. But for anyone who hasn't read this book, if you never thought that walking plants could be a terrifying adversary, check it out.


Mon Jun 15, 2009 6:27 pm
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Post Re: Day of the Triffids
Peter Scott wrote:
But for anyone who hasn't read this book, if you never thought that walking plants could be a terrifying adversary, check it out.

I stopped judging the potential of a book from a thumbnail sketch of the antagonist or centerpoint a long time ago - it was with John D. MacDonald's Condominium. I mean, my gawd, how could you read a book about a freakin' Florida condominum? I made such a comment to a co-worker who offered me the book, and she just smiled and said, "Read it until the hurricane starts. Then you can give it back if you like."

I think I still have her copy. So no, the notion of ambulatory plants as enemies doesn't put me off.

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In the end, I found Heinlein is finite. Thus, finite analysis is needed.


Mon Jun 15, 2009 7:02 pm
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Post Re: Day of the Triffids
James Blish is an American author.

Wyndham also wrote under his birth name (or versions of it); he's got a triple-barrelled combination of names, but the only ones I can remember are "Benyon" and his last name "Harris." ISTR Day of the Triffids was the first written under the John Wyndham pseudonym

I've read half a dozen of his novels; Re-birth is my favorite. The Kraken Wakes/Out of the Deep has an oddly "thirties" feel to it.

I don't really know how neglected Harris is -- he's got four "classics" under his belt and has had numerous screen and radio adaptations. The Midwich Cuckoos gets adapted periodically, and I think BBC did a TV version of Chocky some time back. He's more current than most 50's-60's writers.


Tue Jun 16, 2009 6:39 am
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Post Re: Day of the Triffids
I didn't know that the copyright was open - maybe it isn't, but this doesn't look like your usual pirate site: http://arthursclassicnovels.com/arthurs ... ffids.html .

A sample of the creativity:

Quote:
And so I came to Westminster.
The deadness, the finish of it all, was italicized there.


Beautiful.


Tue Jun 16, 2009 6:55 pm
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Post Re: Day of the Triffids
Bill Patterson wrote:
James Blish is an American author.


Oh, if you insist. The British are accustomed to thinking of him as one of their own, even if he did produce most of his stuff before he migrated. I think we can still agree that he was underappreciated.


Tue Jun 16, 2009 7:21 pm
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Post Re: Day of the Triffids
Peter Scott wrote:
Bill Patterson wrote:
James Blish is an American author.


Oh, if you insist. The British are accustomed to thinking of him as one of their own, even if he did produce most of his stuff before he migrated. I think we can still agree that he was underappreciated.

I had to look him up, but I guess The Day After Judgment and Midsummer Century were produced after 1968 when he moved to England. I had the impression he never wrote anything of importance after 1968 when Black Easter was published, because he kind of fell off the map after about 1970.

But in any rate, I wonder do the British think of Harry Harrison and Anne McCaffrey as Irish writers? Or the French of Norman Spinrad as a French writer?


Wed Jun 17, 2009 6:35 am
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Post Re: Day of the Triffids
Bill Patterson wrote:
I had the impression he never wrote anything of importance after 1968 when Black Easter was published, because he kind of fell off the map after about 1970.

I believe he battled cancer for several years before succumbing around 1975. His last few years were occupied by writing the last novelizations of the original Star Trek series - of which he purportedly never saw an episode, but worked from scripts and the show bible.

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In the end, I found Heinlein is finite. Thus, finite analysis is needed.


Wed Jun 17, 2009 7:27 am
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Post Re: Day of the Triffids
James Gifford wrote:
Bill Patterson wrote:
I had the impression he never wrote anything of importance after 1968 when Black Easter was published, because he kind of fell off the map after about 1970.

I believe he battled cancer for several years before succumbing around 1975. His last few years were occupied by writing the last novelizations of the original Star Trek series - of which he purportedly never saw an episode, but worked from scripts and the show bible.

I thought the last of those was published around 1970. I read a bunch of them in 1975, and it was pretty clear he had never seen the show.

Blish was a very odd case. He makes these trenchant insightful remarks that make you think he knows how many beans make 5, and then he just blathers for page after page. Also, pseudonymously giving your own book a favorable review is not quite, quite.


Wed Jun 17, 2009 5:57 pm
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Post Re: Day of the Triffids
Bill Patterson wrote:
James Gifford wrote:
I believe he battled cancer for several years before succumbing around 1975. His last few years were occupied by writing the last novelizations of the original Star Trek series

I thought the last of those was published around 1970. I read a bunch of them in 1975, and it was pretty clear he had never seen the show.

No, the writing began during the show's original run and went on until his death. I retained few details about Blish except a poignant paragraph about how his only source of income in his last few years was grinding out these terrible novelizations. Here's a list:

# Star Trek, 1967 (a.k.a. Star Trek 1)
# Star Trek 2, 1968
# Star Trek 3, 1969
# Star Trek 4, 1971
# Star Trek 5, 1972
# Star Trek 6, 1972
# Star Trek 7, 1972
# Star Trek 8, 1972
# Star Trek 9, 1973
# Star Trek 10, 1974
# Star Trek 11, 1975 (a.k.a. Day of the Dove)
# Star Trek 12 (with J.A. Lawrence), 1977 - Blish died during the writing of this book

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"Hier stehe ich. Ich kann nicht anders." - Luther
In the end, I found Heinlein is finite. Thus, finite analysis is needed.


Wed Jun 17, 2009 6:43 pm
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Post Re: Day of the Triffids
Any more of this and the thread should be split, but just for the benefit of any one reading this thread wondering, "Who is this Blish guy?", I don't want them to go away thinking that he was some transplanted hack who just wrote bad Trek novelizations.

To equalize the record, let me cite some of my favorite Blish books: The Cities in Flight tetralogy (They Shall Have Stars, A Life for the Stars, Earthman Come Home, A Clash of Cymbals); All The Stars a Stage; and a book I love very much, Jack of Eagles, which seems to get no attention whatsoever.

Yes, he wrote many other books, some more famous ones, but those are my favorites. Cities in Flight is a series I reread every few years like Stranger and the Foundation trilogy. Time to pick it up again, I think.


Wed Jun 17, 2009 7:22 pm
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