So maybe this is the harder part of this multi-book review. I said I am gonna try cross-compare the novels/writers as to what I liked and why I really didn’t like some authors/books. This I find quite difficult. And it is possibly even more difficult for you – coz just possibly you may not have read them. In which case TL;DR – just read Triffids! But if one week was long enough to read any of the above that you had not previously read – then here’s my scribbles to, erm, entertain you? Or at least here my getting my thoughts noted down ‘fore I forgets ’em. Starting with the good, and moving onto the dubious..
The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham (1951)
So why is it better than Nod, Android, and Fahrenheit? Mainly I think this comes down the the fact that I believe (or sympathise?) in the actions of the main characters. The book’s events seem at possible in 1950s Britain – at least in my perhaps over protected and under informed (?) universe, of course taking the premise of giant sentient people eating plants as a given. And I liked Wyndham’s interest in attempting to portray a variety of characters in the work.
The main male protagonist is a product of the 1950s – what else could he be. But Wyndham also shows interest in his female characters. The character Josella, who wrote a book called `Sex is my activity’ (yay!), is the main female. The author clearly has some sympathy with her being (mis)lead (?) by her publishers into publishing her book under her real name, and then being rather stuck with the rather sticky fallout for ever-and-ever thereafter. Hmmm.
Later on, there are firm words, and worse (my goodness), in store for females who are not prepared to roll up their sleeves and get up to speed on technical work. In my mind this equates with Wyndham grappling with proto-feminist thinking. Even if he does later seem to forget about Josella. But generally, I do like the rather practical outlook of the whole book.
I also wonder whether Wyndham liked the idea of introducing the Triffids (and maybe also some plagues?) as a way of reducing the suffering of his post-Apocalyptic population? One quick lash from a Triffid – or a couple nights of fever – and that’s it. Rather less ugly than slow starvation/disease for the majority of the soon-to-be deceased blind population?
Anyhow. Enough time spent on the good. What about Dick?
Do Androids dream of Electric Sheep? By Philip K Dick (1968)
So whats not to like about Android? Well, it was written about 15 years later, but where Wyndham spends (some) time grapping with proto-feminist thoughts, Dick seems to spends (much) time on a thinly veiled Android-based sexual fantasy for Dick. Is there more to say than this on it? Probably. But am not sure I can. I mean, I sort of feel like I should write a Fahrenheit versus Android post (part 3?) but TBH, whilst I rather apologise for the copout, 3 is beyond me.
Nod by Adrian Barnes (2015)
OTOH, Nod? WTF? I still don’t like this one atall. In terms of the actions of the main characters, I cant really believe anyone would be so stupid. In the face of a clear Apocalyptic event like this in America, why would the main character not have immediately gathered supplies and headed out of town? Why would he/they not have taken the sleeper children with him/them? More to the point, why would the sleeper adults not have been immediately identified and then charged with governing – by the current government?
That might have meant commandeering lorries, supplies, and taking all families with sleeper immediately out of town to far flung camps – with sentries set (if necessary) to prevent anyone following – and to allow any further sleepers out of the cities? (Read Triffids, for goodness sake!) These people had days of reasonable functioning to develop a plan and to evacuate those who could be saved.
I mean, Triffids was written sixty-odd years early, and there despite a bit of a predilection for a post Apocalyptic beverage or two – almost everyone behaved quite sensibly. I realise that aspects of the 1950 versus 2014 morals might result in some differences in post-apocalyptic behaviour, but not everyone in North America (or England) is an idiot. Indeed many seem surprisingly competent in their analysis.
But anyway, quite apart from not believing in the actions of his characters and setting, it feels like Barnes has this weird pseudo-sympathy for his females and children. Essentially the only actors in the story are the main male character plus and some militaristic other male characters. The `admiral in blue’ being the main example.
On the lack of humanity thing, the main character (who sleeps – and is essentially mostly of sound mind) identified that his adopted pseudo-daughter had been locked into a stove in a basement – by a bunch of easily-led non-sleepers. And he did nothing. He left her – a four year old – locked *for days* on her own in a stove in a basement. Aspects like that make (for me) the entire premise unbelievable. His extreme weakness on the question of looking after his slowly disintegrating partner is another part where I struggle to believe or sympathise with the author (or characters).
The weird animalised description of the beach scene (where a child/kitten?) is beaten to death, amongst other unpleasantness, is yet another odd and distasteful aspect of the writing of this book. If you cant face writing it using the style used in the rest of the book – surely just don’t describe it?
Alice by Christina Hendry (2015)
To try to end on a slightly better note – current reading – I had almost finished Alice before it was helpfully washed in the bath by my youngest. Thank you for that Alfred. So, having searched and discovered (oddly?) that it is not in the town library, I cycled down to, and read the last 60 pages, in Waterstones in my spare hour last weekend. And also brought back the sequel intending to get it read earlier this week. So its back into pure fantasy again. Ah well, it is an interesting world. BTW there are um, oddities to Alice, and Alice +1. Am still pondering them. But I would recommend the books – though be aware there is a lot of quite dubious sex – esp. rape and torture related – and (I think) some imbalances in the writing. Probably some of it is quite unintended.
Anyway, enough for now. (Wow, that is a long post! Lots of nice words for you : -).