After what seemed like an age reading “The Map of Time” I was really looking forwards to reading the sequel to “Day of the Triffids” a book that I enjoyed immensely. I have a thing for post-apocalyptic novels as I like to see where authors take it, to see how they bring about the end of the world [I am unsure if this is because I frequently dream of the end of the world, or I dream of it because of these types of books – despite not reading all that many of them].
“Day of the Triffids”, in brief, is about the collapse of civilisation as we know it cause by two things; the blinding of the majority of the human race through witnessing a “comet” pass through the atmosphere, and deadly, man eating plants called Triffids, created by scientists in Soviet Russia [where it is also suggested the “comet” came from]. “Day of the Triffids” deals with the fall out of this, the utter need to survive, to recover the rest of humanity. The end of the book is really open ended, which is where the sequel, “Night of the Triffids” comes into play.
The first thing that should be said about the sequel is that it was written by a different author, Simon Clark, rather than “Day of the Triffids” author – John Wyndam – an anniversary sequel of the original, and picks up some 25 odd years later, following David Mason, son of the Bill Mason the protagonist from the first Triffid encounter. The basic plot, without giving too much away, is a new terror facing the Earth – the sun seems to have gone out. David is sent to investigate as he’s a pilot, and flies as high as he can to see what’s going, which isn’t much but a whole lot of darkness. Great for the Triffids, bad for human kind – and ultimately for David too as he crashes the plane on a floating island of Triffids. He’s then rescued and taken to America, where rather nicely he’s shown New York and it’s survivors, kidnapped, told the truth about the operation in New York, goes to work as a solider to win back the love of his life and that of a child, before going home for tea with his parents.
Whilst I enjoyed reading this book, and being back in the Triffid infested world the whole concept behind this is faintly ridiculous. With Wyndam’s original book it was all about the survival of the human race not from the Triffids, but the blinding of nearly the entire population. Clark’s sequel reads as an action adventure where everything is just a little too convenient, and a little too easy.
Also, the recycling of the main antagonist from the original book irked me a bit too. In the original it seemed pretty obvious that he was a goner, Triffid feed, but no, he miraculously survived, made it to New York, and established himself as the tyrannical overlord leaving the people of New York completely oblivious to his deeds. I think my biggest problem with this was why couldn’t Clark have created a new character that was just as maniacal? Surely, really, that would have made much more sense?
Also, the amount of technology that is available both in New York and in the Isle of White is also a bit farfetched – the amount of planes, guns, cars, lasers etc, when Bill Mason took his son aside early on in the book telling him that the Isle of White needed to start mine ore and becoming a producing island rather than fixing up old machinery. New York I could sort of understand a bit better, but the amount of cars that it is suggested running about doesn’t fit in with the rest of the story – that they don’t have the right fuel to run the cars, that they are always breaking down etc. Surely if that was the case people would simply walk or get the Tube as it seems it still works.
Also, let’s talk about the Triffids for a moment. Again, the only two words that can describe this incarnation of them is faintly ridiculous. Wyndam’s original showed them a instinctual killing machines, willing to wait out the humans which is fair enough. Too an extent Clark continues this, however, he introduces a new concept regarding these lovely human killing plants… their evolution. Clark basically suggests that because of the way they are created that the Triffids can evolve in great leaps and bounds, for example we see water dwelling Triffids, those that created the floating island David landed on – these seem alright, and a bit logical, however the SIXTY FOOT TALL Triffids that attack NYC was just plain… I don’t know, here I just want to throw out the words “suspension of disbelief” because it is ridiculous!
The immune tribe of Native American’s to the Triffid sting is also convenient – but surely it should have been picked up across the world anyways as it would seem it stemmed from the ingestion and proximity to the Triffids. So why was it that Bill Mason discovered to be immune to the poison, when it’s clear that David is also subjected to the poison and proximity to the Triffids poison but isn’t immune? It’s just not consistent!
Whilst I enjoyed being back in the realm of the disaster torn world, I think that some elements could have been changed to fit Wyndam’s themes better…
Right, to the next book… choices choices… [the first TARDIS sock is also so nearly complete!]