Thursday, 9 May 2013

The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham

For some reason, I had the impression that Day of the Triffids was about the sudden attack of man-killing mobile plants. So I was surprised when it was revealed that the triffids had been around for a long time and a worldwide case of blindness was the cause of the catastrophe - the triffids merely took advantage of it.

For the main character, laid up in hospital with his eyes bandaged, he missed the spectacular meteor shower that seems to have caused the problem, and is one of the few who can still see. The end of the world John Wyndham paints is curiously quiet. People are alive, and blind, but the main feeling the main character encounters, with some exceptions, is one of absence, even on the first day after the event. Much of the rest of the book is an exploration of different ways to cope with the aftermath - from a newly polygynous society, to a socialist attempt to try to keep the blind alive, to a heavily moralistic colony, to a neo-feudal society with the blind as slaves. (Although, given what Wyndham painted, that there are enough blind people left alive three years after the event to make them useful serfs seems somewhat unlikely.)

Through it all, we follow the main character and the first sighted woman he meets, and later, his attempts to find her after they are separated.

I enjoyed Day of the Triffids, but I can't say I was deeply emotionally attached to the characters. Something about the book felt detached to me. But it was an entertaining and unsettling read.

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