My only memory of this story is through the hazy mists of time when I saw it as a little kiddo. It's been nearly 30 years since that time, so I was be...moreMy only memory of this story is through the hazy mists of time when I saw it as a little kiddo. It's been nearly 30 years since that time, so I was betting on the style being entirely
Well, there are action scenes of our band of heroes fending off the hordes of vegetable monsters, but you have to wait for it. Quite a while, actually.
As with any good sci-fi story, the monster or major hurdle to overcome is humankind itself. The story starts with a meteor shower as the Earth goes through the tail of a comet (or did it?) and anyone who viewed the brilliant green lightshow is rendered blind. With a major capability gone, humans are now quite helpless. It doesn't take long for the triffids, mysterious plants which appeared on Earth years before and subsequently controlled, raised, and harvested by humans for the oil that they produce, to rise up and exert the superiority that they now have over humans. However, they're only part of the problem. The structure of civilization in the cities breaks down immediately. Those who are still sighted and have that opportunistic proclivity, fill the power vacuum and begin to exert their own authority.
In this portion, the action was pretty slow, but I thought the exploration of how humans would react to such a situation was very interesting. Our hero, Bill Masen, encounters a couple different groups in his travels. One group declares that all social contracts are null and rebuilding the species is a priority. Therefore, men do the work, women pump out babies, and marriage means nothing. And if you chicks object to that, so long, good luck, don't let the door hit you on your way out. Another group is determined to rebuild society with Christian principles and emphatically denounces that "free love" crowd. Then you have the militaristic groups who turn cities into compounds and want to remake a feudal society.
Somewhere in the last quarter of the book the triffids make their presence really known, and it was all flamethrowers, running them over, and good sci-fi blowin' up of shit and finally making a getaway to a safe part of England.
My favorite apocalyptic kind of story is the decimation of humanity and how the survivors deal with it. In terms of that kind of narrative, I'd take this over King's The Stand any day - yes, it's much much shorter. You could see and smell the bodies, and the descriptions of how the cities and countryside turned back to wilderness were very vivid. I immediately thought of those "world without us" images:
but of course with the occasional survivor damsel in distress: (less)
Whenever I try to explain or describe anything penned by Wilkie, I always come up short so I'm not even going to try. This book totally deserves its p...moreWhenever I try to explain or describe anything penned by Wilkie, I always come up short so I'm not even going to try. This book totally deserves its place in the halls of famous literature. I suppose it is considered an epistolary novel (though a depositional novel would be more precise!) as the entire story is seen through the point of views of a series of characters from the beginning of the saga to the end. And what a huge cast of characters! The melodrama was thick enough to eat with a spoon, and how delicious it was! I went the audio route, and the standouts were Patrick Tull as Gabriel Betteredge, the loyal servant of Lady and Rachel Verinder, and Frank Muller as Franklin Blake. Davina Porter also did justice to the self-righteous reprobate Miss Clack and I wished that segment had been longer.
If you have a lady boner for Wilkie's works like I do, I can't recommend this enough!(less)