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The Tea Tray of the Triffids

Have you heard of The Day of the Triffids?

Yes, as a movie.
92(45.1%)
Yes, as a book.
105(51.5%)
Yes, but couldn't say what it is.
6(2.9%)
No, I haven't heard of it.
1(0.5%)

Have you read The Day of the Triffids?

Yes.
79(67.5%)
No.
38(32.5%)


I have no idea when I first heard of The Day of the Triffids. I wouldn't be able to swear it was before I moved back to the UK. More likely, it was when some movie version of it was released. In any event, it wasn't staple reading for me, growing up as a science fiction reader in the U.S. I'm reading it now, with momentum from a local SF book club.

I don't remember why, over dinner last night with BSFA people, I mentioned I was reading it, but it was apropos of Englishness. Someone said it must be full of tea. At that point, characters had only drunk whisky. I promised I'd report back on the tea situation, so here I am: after innumerable alcoholic beverages and some coffee (made with more alcohol and canned milk), two of the characters finally have cups of tea approximately a third of the way into the book.*

A newly-met American last night had never heard the title, somewhat to my delight. C. was shocked to hear that it was possible to have avoided it. He grew up in England, you see, where it is a staple of people who grow up reading SF. I often say I become unread whenever I move countries, but it was nice to have such a specific scrap of evidence to back me up on it.

* For a full Triffids tea report, you'll have to wait until I'm done reading it.

Comments

( 52 comments — Leave a comment )
drasecretcampus
Jan. 27th, 2011 12:51 pm (UTC)
Two tv versions - one fantastic and one crap.
owlfish
Jan. 27th, 2011 12:54 pm (UTC)
There's always something to miss in a poll. I should have looked it up first. Out of curiosity, which one is which of the tv versions?

Now I wonder if there's a graphic novel version of it out there....
(no subject) - drasecretcampus - Jan. 27th, 2011 01:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sollersuk - Jan. 27th, 2011 01:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - steer - Jan. 27th, 2011 04:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - daisho - Jan. 29th, 2011 12:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - swisstone - Jan. 27th, 2011 01:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - m31andy - Jan. 27th, 2011 02:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - moral_vacuum - Jan. 27th, 2011 03:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - owlfish - Jan. 27th, 2011 05:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
owlfish
Jan. 27th, 2011 12:55 pm (UTC)
An RPG version! I wonder what other forms I'm missing. (I shouldn't be surprised, I think, because this novel really is all-pervasive around here, once I tuned in to its references.)

I love the icon! To what is it a reference?

Edited at 2011-01-27 12:55 pm (UTC)
(Deleted comment)
taldragon
Jan. 27th, 2011 12:56 pm (UTC)
i read it in school, for English. i think i was about 11 or 12. (we watched the film too)

Edited at 2011-01-27 12:56 pm (UTC)
sollersuk
Jan. 27th, 2011 01:39 pm (UTC)
I was about the same age and got it off my parents' bookshelves. Back in the late 1950s nobody would have dreamed of using it as a schoolbook!
(no subject) - taldragon - Jan. 27th, 2011 01:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - chickenfeet2003 - Jan. 27th, 2011 04:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
coughingbear
Jan. 27th, 2011 01:22 pm (UTC)
On reflection I don't think I did know about the film - it was the 1981 TV version I was thinking of.

I look forward to the full tea report!
rjw1
Jan. 27th, 2011 01:23 pm (UTC)
while i havent read it. i do own a copy.
bookzombie
Jan. 27th, 2011 01:30 pm (UTC)
I've also got an abridged audiobook version read by Robert Powell!

I honestly don't remember not knowing about the book. As long as I can remember being aware of sf I've been aware of it as being one of the 'ur-texts' of British sf.
sollersuk
Jan. 27th, 2011 01:40 pm (UTC)
Book, as mentioned, when small; 1960s film version (total crap); 1980s television version on DVD.
gillo
Jan. 27th, 2011 01:44 pm (UTC)
Dreadful 60s film, decent 80s BBC version, rubbish recent adaptation.

I read the book when I was about thirteen and ploughing my way through all the Wyndhams. I'd say most reasonably-read Brits at least know what a triffid is, even if they haven't read/seen it.

After all, what do you think the road sign "Heavy Plant Crossing" refers to?

;-)
m31andy
Jan. 27th, 2011 02:18 pm (UTC)
Every time I see that sign (whether in the metal or as a picture) I still get terrified!
(no subject) - gillo - Jan. 27th, 2011 11:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - owlfish - Jan. 27th, 2011 02:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - gillo - Jan. 27th, 2011 11:09 pm (UTC) - Expand
d_aulnoy
Jan. 27th, 2011 02:01 pm (UTC)
I was aware of the movie (which I didn't really have much interest in seeing) and of the book (which I did want to read, but not badly enough to special-order or hunt down, and I never did casually run across a copy on American shelves, neither in libraries or in bookshops) more or less dating to around the time I started reading a lot of SF - 13 or thereabouts? I did finally find a copy on my European husband's shelves. I may be an outlier in one or more of these fashions.
owlfish
Jan. 27th, 2011 02:11 pm (UTC)
It's early yet in the US. I have every expectation that you will be less of an outlier as more potential American poll respondents wake up and check LJ.

Edited at 2011-01-27 02:11 pm (UTC)
(Deleted comment)
m31andy
Jan. 27th, 2011 02:21 pm (UTC)
On reflection, I don't know the film, but I remember the TV series. Which, as I was five/six when it was broadcast, scared me silly. On reflection I don't think I was target audience.

I've got the book on my pile of "to reads". If I can pick up the ebook, I'll probably get round to it quicker (but autopope's Laundry books are currently taking precedence.)
owlfish
Jan. 27th, 2011 02:50 pm (UTC)
My local library has the book available as both PDF and audiobook for online checkout. Perhaps yours does too?
(no subject) - non_trivial - Jan. 27th, 2011 03:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - clanwilliam - Jan. 27th, 2011 03:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
retsuko
Jan. 27th, 2011 03:22 pm (UTC)
So I saw the old B&W trailer as part of a collection that I loved as a kid--Vincent Price narrating old '50s horror movies trailers, which were cheesy-looking and utterly not scary. Then one day in a used bookstore, years later, I saw the book and thought, oh it's a real thing, not just a cheesy 50s horror thing! The book was... not what I expected.
lil_shepherd
Jan. 27th, 2011 03:23 pm (UTC)
And seen the film, which has the most hilariously silly ending evah - with the possible exception of Signs which nicked it.
pwilkinson
Jan. 27th, 2011 03:38 pm (UTC)
Let me put it this way - I have a fairly full set of Wyndham novels, in 1960s Penguin editions, which I inherited from my parents. My father was only a very occasional science fiction reader and my mother not at all - but they were both English teachers and Wyndham novels were very regular O-level* set texts in the 1960s and 1970s (in my case, I think it was The Chrysalids).

So, I guess for about 10 years or so, any English child who grew up reading was likely to have read at least one Wyndham novel (and most commonly Day of the Triffids), even if they never read any other SF.

* For British under-40s, a predecessor of GCSEs; for non-Brits, an examination typically taken at the age of 16
frostfox
Jan. 27th, 2011 04:16 pm (UTC)
Chrysalids was one of our set texts (I was born in '63) at Secondary school in Cheshire.
In my usually manner, by the time the rest of the class had finished it, I'd read all the Wyndham's in the library. Did this with Alan Garner and CS Lewis too.

FF
'O' levels - momist - Jan. 29th, 2011 08:09 pm (UTC) - Expand
clanwilliam
Jan. 27th, 2011 03:57 pm (UTC)
I've read it, but I was comparatively rare in my area in Ireland. They had it in the library in Carlow, so I probably first read it when I was about 14 or 15.

But my whole family had heard of John Wyndham, even though most of them are definitely not SF fans - my mother made some disparaging comment that indicated she was aware of the "cosy catastrophe" theory, even if she didn't actually know the phrase itself.

moon_custafer
Jan. 27th, 2011 05:17 pm (UTC)
Saw whichever tv version had Maurice Colbourne in it...I was living with a rabid Colbourne fan at the time. It was pretty good. Don’t recall the tea situation, but I would suggest if coffee and tinned milk dominate the book, it’s likely because of the post-apocalyptic setting.
owlfish
Jan. 27th, 2011 05:47 pm (UTC)
True - but you have also reminded me that I should try out my tea+fantasy vs. coffee+SF hypothesis on this book. The 1950s may or may not be too early for it to hold.

The large quantities of alcohol is very 1950s, however.
tsutanai
Jan. 27th, 2011 10:46 pm (UTC)
I used to confuse it with the Tripods series. Which made a lot more sense when I was 10. (Are the Tripods also considered quite British? Now I'm trying to remember how much tea might have been in it....)
(Anonymous)
Jan. 27th, 2011 11:38 pm (UTC)
Baked beans in Tripods, I think. No Bean was in Tripods and baked beans raw was TV Triffids. The TV Triffids was a major hing in the late 70s and most Wyndham will have affected all Britishers born between 1950 and 1980
(no subject) - perfectlyvague - Jan. 27th, 2011 11:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
geesepalace
Jan. 27th, 2011 11:04 pm (UTC)
I read it when it was recommended to me, enthusiastically, by gp Booker, so it was known in the US, if not necessarily by everyone.

I would have thought that it would have come up in conversations years ago, in your pre-UK days, but evidently not.
labellementeuse
Jan. 28th, 2011 01:17 am (UTC)
I suppose I was vaguely aware that someone had probably adapted it at some point (there must surely be a radio series somewhere), but the novel is also a real SF growing-up staple here - along with The Midwich Cuckoos (and the rest of Wyndham) and the John Christopher books (I don't know why they go together in my head, along with the radio serial of The War of the Worlds, but they do).

Funnily enough in the same part of my head I keep the Alan Garner omnibus I used to own (the Brisingamen books and Elidor; not the Owl Service, curiously), the Dark is Rising, and Tom's Midnight Garden. Apparently I have a particular place in my head for "influential British genre novels for children from the 1950s and 60s", which must say more about their remarkable style than about me, really.
kerrypolka
Jan. 28th, 2011 11:07 am (UTC)
I've heard of it vaguely and thought it was the one of the good episodes of "The Twilight Zone", or something like that.
desperance
Jan. 28th, 2011 10:42 pm (UTC)
He grew up in England, you see, where it is a staple of people who grow up reading SF.

More than that. I was at school through the '60s and '70s, and it was a modern classic; we studied it in class at least once, possibly more than once (I did shift schools a fair bit). It might be going too far to say that everybody read it - but pretty much everybody of my generation was supposed to read it.
rhube
Jan. 28th, 2011 11:47 pm (UTC)
Unlike most John Wyndhams, which I adore, I was put off by the movie and have never bothered with the book.
owlfish
Jan. 28th, 2011 11:52 pm (UTC)
Whereas this is now the only Wyndham I have read.
littleowl
Jan. 29th, 2011 06:53 pm (UTC)
On TV as well, sometime in the 80s.
4ll4n0
Feb. 3rd, 2011 03:32 pm (UTC)
I put not read but really not completed
I actually started reading the book once but never finished (I think it was at someone's cottage). My dad had read it and he is a British ex-pat. I've also seen bits of the infamous movie. I would have said the movie at least had a certain international notoriety.
( 52 comments — Leave a comment )