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The Day of the Triffids (Penguin Modern Classics) Paperback – International Edition, 22 Feb 2001
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When Bill Masen wakes up blindfolded in hospital there is a bitter irony in his situation. Carefully removing his bandages, he realizes that he is the only person who can see: everyone else, doctors and patients alike, have been blinded by a meteor shower. Now, with civilization in chaos, the triffids - huge, venomous, large-rooted plants able to 'walk', feeding on human flesh - can have their day. "The Day of the Triffids", published in 1951, expresses many of the political concerns of its time: the Cold War, the fear of biological experimentation and the man-made apocalypse. However, with its terrifyingly believable insights into the genetic modification of plants, the book is more relevant today than ever before.
About the Author
John Wyndham was born in 1903. After a wide experience of the English preparatory school he was at Bedales from 1918 to 1921. Careers which he tried included farming, law, commercial art, and advertising, and he first started writing short stories, intended for sale, in 1925. During the war he was in the Civil Service and afterwards in the Army. In 1946 he began writing his major science fiction novels including "The Kraken Wakes", "The Chrysalids" and "The Midwich Cuckoos".
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The writing style is not as modern as, say Lee Child, or, Kim Stanley Robinson, but it flows, smoothly mundane, from one horror to another, giving the reader the sense of shock that the protagonist feels as he fumbles his way around a world totally and terrifyingly unrecognisable from the day before. I thoroughly recommend this novel, and indeed, all the works of John Wyndham. Enjoy.
This time, however, I did enjoy reading the book, despite the fact that some aspects of the novel are dated (the hero's attitude to women very much places this book firmly in the 1950s), this is still a scary book about the end of civilisation as we know it and plants rising up to get their own back on all those pesky humans.
I personally think this is a book that is better read as an adult - there is a moment in the text when the hero says that his main feeling about the end of civilisation is "relief". This would not make sense to a child, but to an adult who has been caught in the daily grind for God knows how many decades, I can completely relate to this. I can't think of the number of jobs I've had over the years where I've wished the world would end rather than have to go and do another shift/cope with the stress of another deadline.
That said, it is hard to take ambulatory plants seriously as a threat - did they have Round Up in the 1950s?
Still, on the whole, I enjoyed the book, and it's worth a read.
The eponymous kraken is a sea monster from Scandinavian folklore.
The Kraken Wakes is an apocalyptic speculative fiction novel by John Wyndham, first published in 1953. It is very much the product of its time. The narrative is the backdrop mise-en-scène of the Cold War society. The outlook of the characters are often quite paternalistic, especially when any women are concerned, and some may find that attitude grating. A book reflecting the attitudes and conventions of the time it was written in. The main protagonists in this case are a husband and wife Mike and Phyllis, who are reporters.
Unlike the Trffids, the nature of the disaster comes on in phases and takes place over a period of about ten years, each phase becoming more and more detrimental to humanity. In parallel the Cold War begins to heat up as mistrust between the East and West believing that what is happening is an escalation in tensions, rather than it being caused by an unseen third party. It's an extra-terrestrial invasion. The first things that are seen are "red dots," of fiery shooting star landing in the deepest parts of the world's oceans, which are actually alien craft. It's ventured that they might come from gas giant planet and like living in high pressure environments and hence their need deep-water home, the book then gives over to a series of attacks by the aliens, they never called krakens in the book, climaxing in the scene that starts at beginning of the novel where rising sea water and icebergs in the Channel have entirely changed the weather and landscape of Britain isles, and where by the characters are trying to escape.
While some readers may find it frustrating - I like the idea that the aliens were never explained, or really shown, as everything about them is theoretical, except what they actually do, and there are lots of potential reasons for that. Some have said this novel is not one of the authors best - each to their own, however, for me this book is still worthy of a good 5 stars - after all how many alien invasion narratives, films and the rest show the invasion landing on terra firma with instant detriment to mankind. Dare I say the slow-burn nature of The Kraken Awakes, and the way you know there is trouble out there - but you cannot get to it, or see it makes this book so very interesting.