Monday, August 14, 2006

Sci Fi Monday

I went classic with my last book. I read "The Day of the Triffids" by John Wyndham. I have to admit that 50's fiction that stands the test of time is almost always really fun to read, and The Day of the Triffids wasn't an exception. While it's about twin disasters that affect humankind (being blinded in the midst of an explosion of man-eating plants), the story focuses less on the blindness and plants, and more on the issues the remaining humans encounter trying to stay alive in a post-apocalyptic world. While I'm not entirely sure of the historical lineage, it seems that there's an almost direct line from H.G. Wells (noted/quoted liberally in Triffids) to Triffids to every zombie movie ever made. If you wrote a zombie book or made a zombie movie after this book, I fail to believe you didn't read it or weren't influenced by it, at least from a once-removed perspective. I.e. if you don't know it was the source of your movie, it's because you don't know the full history of the sources that informed your zeitgeist.

While I'm not done with it, I immediately followed up with Night of the Triffids by Simon Clark, which is what got me reading The Day of the Triffids because I knew that Night had received a British Fantasy Award (2002). While there are some similarities, Night of the Triffids is not H.G. Wells, it's Swift. It is out and out Gulliver's Travels in a post-apocalyptic, plant-infested world. The triffids might as well be Lilliputians in some respects, with the various isolated human cultures fulfilling the rest of the roles of the various strange communities Gulliver meets. Still, good stuff - I strongly recommend the pair of books if you're looking for a good sci-fi fix.

Speaking of sci-fi, Tild~ has a post up about James Tiptree, Jr., which is the only sci-fi author I know of that has been read by every single lesbian I've ever known with an interest in sci-fi. Seriously. I don't know enough about Alice/James to know why this is (or lesbianism, for that matter), but Tiptree's fiction, when you know that it was Sheldon writing under a pseudonym, tells you more about her than might be gleaned from similar pseudonymous writers (I hope that was the correct use of that word).


Anonymous said...

Interesting coincidence...I just happen to be reading "Day of the Triffids" for the first time just now also.

Or maybe it's not a coincidence...did you happen to also see the "100 SF Books You Must Read" on Digg? That's why I picked it up (among a few others).


Scooter said...

Nope, I was at a list of British Fantasy/Sci Fi award winners. But I'll definitely check out that list - thanks, Sean.