I kept pondering over and over how to write this review. What can you write about a book, when the author clearly states in the end that it has no morI kept pondering over and over how to write this review. What can you write about a book, when the author clearly states in the end that it has no moral? That "it does not say they were wrong [...]; it just tells what the consequences were." What can you write about a book that ends with the list of the 15 persons who inspired it, all dead, with permanent brain damage, permanent psychosis, or at the very best (if there is a "best" when talking about such aftermaths) permanent pancreatic damage (the author himself, who in an interview tells that he has "never ever" even taken hard drugs)? And A Scanner Darkly is autobiographical, there is not doubt about that.
I was in a position to see what hard drugs did to people, what drugs did to my friends. (Interviewer: There is terrible damage done.) Just incredible. I just couldn't believe it. I saw things that if I hadn't seen them with my own eyes I simply wouldn't have believed them. I know you've read A Scanner Darkly. Everything in A Scanner Darkly I actually saw. I mean I saw even worse things than I put in A Scanner Darkly.
Hence my dilemma: how can I summarize in half-a-page the essence of a blight that Philip K. Dick himself tries to summarize in 220 pages? It would be moot. Because this is what A Scanner Darkly really is: a survey into the world of Slow Death, a cognomen for all drugs since, as he points out, all drug users are slowly dying in spirit, turning into burned-out husks capable only of parroting and aping... They simply don't comprehend their own galloping extinction since they gradually lose the ability to understand anything at all.
To end, I just want to point out that A Scanner Darkly is autobiographical not only concerning the drug culture (which is quite obvious), but also regarding Bob Arctor's entire life: the broken marriage, the lost children (a daughter, in real life), the empty house subsequently filled with drug addicts, the unrequited love, the rehab program... everything is inspired by the author's life (more toward the end of this interview). Therefore, this novel becomes a testimony not only of one of the last century's plagues, but also a surreptitious look into the life of one of the biggest science-fiction authors. ...more
Maybe it's our jaded senses cause by the continuously bombardment by the television with death, gore, and violence... Maybe it's Wyndham's rather detaMaybe it's our jaded senses cause by the continuously bombardment by the television with death, gore, and violence... Maybe it's Wyndham's rather detached, impersonal, deadpan depiction of pain and sorrow... Or maybe (and this is I believe much of the cause) it is the author's deliberately attempted to portray a beginning rather than an end. Either way, while reading The Day of the Triffids I never felt daunted or shocked, let alone horrified of this version of apocalypse.
While he could have focused, like in José Saramago's Blindness, on the crumbling of a civilization, John Wyndham chooses instead to write about building of a new world. He is at times melancholic about the loss of the old world, but covertly he seems to consider the disaster a fortuity meant to give humanity a fresh new start: All the old problems, the stale ones, both personal and general, had been solved by one mighty slash. The entire story is imbued with hints that what happened might be for the best because it gives society a chance to redesign itself: "We have not simply to start building again; we have to start thinking again."
Because of course in the end, it wasn't a comet that destroyed the civilization as we knew it, it was humanity itself by hoarding mass-destruction weapons. There is more or less subtle criticism of the militaristic trend across the entire novel, but in the end it become quite overt:
“Do you think we could—do you think we should be justified in starting a myth to help them (Note: the children)? A story of a world that was wonderfully clever, but so wicked that it had to be destroyed—or destroyed itself by accident? Something like the Flood, again? [...]
“Yes...” I said, considering it. “Yes. It’s often a good idea to tell children the truth. Kind of makes things easier for them later on—only why pretend it’s a myth?”
Yet, nowhere John Wyndham stops proffering his conviction that humankind deserves and can be saved. The Day of the Triffids is an great novel, hinting at humanity's need to change its ways before it's too late....more
Who saw the movie and, in spite of the great cast, found it too gory, dehumanized, obsessive, and (shReview subtitle: Don't Judge a Book by its Movie!
Who saw the movie and, in spite of the great cast, found it too gory, dehumanized, obsessive, and (should I say it) psychotic? Raise your hands! (Count me in... ☝) I'm happy to say that the original novel was a different story. All the elements that bothered me in the movie adaptation are there, yet there is always a (relatively) sane motivation for even the worse decisions.
The synopsis is simple: using a couple of diaries, the descendants of two stage magicians try to unravel the mystery of their feud, which more than a hundred years later, still continues to claim victims in both camps. Alfred Borden, a genuine talent, almost a prodigy in the field, sees Rupert Angier as a fraud, a worse than mediocre magician... and so the conflict is born. Over the years, both men try successively to mend the gap and unfortunately they always fail. In my opinion, this is the essence of the novel: not the obsession (which is the apparent theme), but the tragedy of two people unable to break free from a vicious cycle.
One of the reviewers said that the characters are not likeable, but I disagree. They both make dreadful choices, but in the end what I felt for them was an infinite sadness for never being on the same page. If only they could have put their anger aside, they would have seen (before it was too late) their similarities and end the enmity. And how similar they are! They both "kill" a part of themselves in order to prove to the other that they are better.
What I found extremely interesting about this novel is that the story is circular: the end is a "karmic" reflection of the beginning and both protagonists have to pay for their pseudo-suicides. (view spoiler)[Rupert Angier who started by faking a communication with the spirits turns into a "ghost" and the Borden-twins, who always pretended to be one person, remain one after being separated by death. (hide spoiler)]
Although not your typical SF story, this is altogether an excellent read!["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more