Fiction Reviews

The Night of the Triffids

(2001) Simon Clark, Hodder and Stoughton, hrdbk, 17.99, 406pp, ISBN 0-340-76600-X


It has to a be either a very brave, and talented, or a rather foolish person to attempt to write a sequel to one of the landmark novels of British SF. Yet Simon Clark has done just that with his sequel to John Wyndham's Dayof the Triffids.

Clark takes up the story some 25 years after Wyndham had left it, and uses David Mansen, the son of Wyndham's Bill Mansen, as his protagonist. The Isle of Wight community has thrived, a pocket of civilization admist a triffid-ridden World. David is a pilot and is sent up to investigate a strange phenomenon, but, losing radio contact, cannot find his way home and crashes on a floating mat of vegetation. He is rescued by a steamer boat from New York which itself is apparently another refuge for civilization. However it transpires that the New Yorkers do things somewhat differently and are desperate to get hold on the Isle-of-Wighter's process for making petrol out of triffid oil. The New Yorkers want to take over the World.

Now the above, as you would expect in any mini-review, is an over simplification of the first half of the book's plot. Do not let this put you off. There are a number of surprises (though one or two are fairly obvious to anyone with a grounding in evolutionary biology) and a couple of developments from the Wyndham original. However Clark handles the task he has set himself well and the work is neither a sacraligous rip off, it is a tale in its own right, nor does it unduly depart from a Wyndham feel. Maybe part of this is due to the involvement of the John Wyndham estate, but part is due to the author's own ability. It might not be hailed as a classic, but I for one am happy to have it on my bookshelf and in the 'W's.

Jonathan Cowie

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