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Literature / The Night of the Triffids

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"When nine o'clock on a summer's morning appears, so far as your eyes can tell, as dark as midnight in the very depths of winter, there is something very seriously wrong somewhere."
Opening line

The Night of the Triffids is a science fiction adventure novel by Simon Clark. It is an authorised sequel to John Wyndham's novel The Day of the Triffids, and was published in 2001, 50 years after the original.

Twenty-five years after the original novel ended, the enclave on the Isle of Wight is still holding out against the triffids. The triffids gain an advantage after an astronomical phenomenon plunges the entire planet into darkness. David Masen, the son of the original novel's protagonists, goes on an adventure during which he meets a girl who has survived for years alone in triffid-infested surroundings, and a group of American survivors based on Manhattan Island.

This novel contains examples of:

  • Acquired Poison Immunity: The revelation of how humanity can take Earth back from the triffids. Small doses of triffid venom, combined with eating triffids, can help immunize people from the venom.
  • America Saves the Day: Subverted. The Americans seem at first to be doing well for themselves, but it turns out they have serious problems that the British hero takes a lead role in helping fix. Double Subverted when the Native Americans that live near a La RĂ©sistance base help David to discover the solution to how to take the planet back from the triffids.
  • Archnemesis Dad: At least three of General Fielding's daughters are violently opposed to his rule, and with good reason.
  • Attack of the Killer Whatever: The triffids are mobile plants with venomous stingers.
  • Baby Factory: A non-enforced version appears in the Isle of Wight, where blind and sighted women live in great houses together, having children with any man they choose, and taking care of the children communally. The New York community has women basically treated as slaves, forced to have many multiple pregnancies.
  • Big Applesauce: Seems to be an utopian community, protected from triffids thanks to blocked bridges. The utopia part is a lie: there is a segregation system between white sighted people and the rest and slavery runs rampant in northern Manhattan (where factories manned by blind people, those who made the mistake of complaining about the system and those who are too weak run 24/7) and some other places (where the workers are forced to work non-stop to cut trees for ethanol or to mine coal) and many women are forced to become a Baby Factory. Being the child of New York's leader won't save you, and in fact he will send you to that destiny because of his relation to you.
  • Born After the End: The story follows one of the first generations of young adults born after almsot everyone was blinded by a comet and most of the survivors died from starvation, disease, or Triffid attacks. The British characters have grown up in a Utopia of sorts, while the Amefican ones are mistreated subjects of a despotism.
  • Call-Back: The beginning is a call back to the beginning of the original novel: both characters wake up unable to see anything, and think that when the situation is similar to what is going on then, something very bad is happening.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: General Fielding, the leader of the New York community, is mentioned about still having some red hair amongst the white hair, and a blind eye from being hit there by a triffid. He is actually Torrence, the Big Bad of the first book, who managed to survive the triffids' attack at the end of the first book.
  • Evil Redhead: The villain of the Manhattan section of the novel.
  • Fire-Breathing Weapon: Flamethrowers are the most effective anti-triffid weapon.
  • Foreshadowing: David finding Christine alive in the floating triffid island despite the fact that she has probably been living with triffids for most of her life. It is the signal that people can become immune to the venom.
  • Internal Homage: The opening sentence of the first chapter is almost word for word the same as the opening sentence of the first chapter of The Day of the Triffids.
  • Kill It with Fire: There is a special anti-triffid squad armed with flamethrowers, always ready to go at the first signal of one or more triffids making their way to the Isle of Wight, or when there is an expedition to Britain.
  • Irony:
    • Since all the fuel the Isle of Wight uses comes from triffids, it means that the anti-triffid squads' flamethrowers must be fed with triffid oil. Bill Masen comments with David about the irony of triffids being both their greatest enemy and their greatest source of fuel.
    • Torrence, who hates blind people and the Masens for their role in leaving him half-blind, is finally toppled thanks to a march by blind people whose children are soldiers, and ends up being blinded by David Masen.
  • La RĂ©sistance: A group with bases somewhere in the East Coast and in the Great Lakes is opposed to the semi-fascistic New York regime.
  • Modern Stasis: Bill Masen tells David that the Isle of Wight community has hardly changed in the thirty years since it was established, and that, apart from a few things, the only thing they are able to do is to restore old things. He predicts their community will die if something is not done soon.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: At the start of the novel, it is completely dark, and David only has a lamp without mirrors to see the path. He can't see the triffids that he knows are coming, which adds to his nerves.
  • Sequel Hook: At the end of the novel, a transmission is detected from somewhere else in the world, and an expedition is announced to find those people.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: General Fielding is the Big Bad and drives pretty much everything that happens after the first quarter of the book, but he only physically appears in two short scenes.
  • The Night That Never Ends: The novel begins at 9 AM in summer, and when the main character awakens it is as dark as midnight in winter. A combination of very dense clouds and an asteroid cloud passing between the Sun and Earth is the cause. Later in the story, when the clouds leave, there is light, but the sun looks like it is dying.
  • Universal Poison: The triffid venom is shown not to be this. A lecture in the first chapter tells that it is not an instant killer, but the antidote has to be injected into the carotid artery very soon.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: General Fielding (also known as Torrence) thinks this.
  • Wild Child: Christine manages to survive surrounded by triffids for more than ten years, after her father died of cancer when she was four.