Monday, 22 September 2008

We run green

Blame it on the Hadron Colliders (which, it seems, are already broken), blame it on the CERN-inspired boogie or blame it on the rain, I seem stuck in a state of peri-apocalyptic fascination.

Which isn't a bad thing, necessarily. Having heard about it and meant to read it for years, I finally tracked down John Christopher's The Death of Grass (or No Blade Of Grass if you're a 'merkin):



Read it in almost a single sitting, such is its page-turniness. Chilling stuff, recognisably British but not at all British in the sense of fundamentally decent chaps all standing together (most likely in a queue) against the catastrophe, stiffened upper lips a-quivering with fair play and Spirit of the Blitz. No, it's nastier than that, painting a terrifying picture of Blighty's sharp descent into barbarous survivalism once famine starts to bite. It made me think of the aphorism about how a dog is only one square meal from a wolf. Or something.

Not having previously made the connection, I was delighted to discover, from the man who gave us that other humanity-in-crisis classic, The Tripods.

The Tripods is one of my all-time Favouritest Things Ever. Only recently did I read the novels (a timelessly well-written childrens' trilogy plus excellent explaining-how-it-all-happened prequel). What I truly remember is the big budget 1980s BBC series, which had me hooked from Episode 1. I defy anyone to watch the first two minutes of this and not want more:



I've always been drawn more to British dystopias than the more common American variants. They're usually bleaker, more depressing, more Fallen Empire. I liked the fact that the heroes of The Tripods trekked across Europe, through shattered Paris and countless more generically Mittel-European towns and hamlets (full of overstyled peasants, often uncannily reminiscent of vintage Adam Ant/Spandau Ballet videos) on their way to the semi-mythical White Mountains. Even as a child, though, I think I registered the increasing desperation of the contrived plot devices for circumventing the language barriers ("come, let us all practise our English!").

Anyway, I've just realised the entire run is on YouTube, including the later episodes that weren't collected on DVD, those in the strangely homoerotic City of Gold and Lead. I think I may not sleep for the next 48 hours...

2 comments:

SubtleKnife said...

Oh, I agree with you, the British ones are usually much better. Although I really have to pick my time to watch/read that sort of thing.

As for the LHC, working or not, I spent a little time yesterday at work (about the only ten minutes all day, including my break, that I didn't spend thinking about work) reading about the pronounciation of Large Hadron Collider.

Yes I'm a geek, but a friendly one, I promise...

Pogonophile said...

American post-apocalypse scenarios are generally too hopeful or heroic. I like the pessimism of the British variants (which must surely be connected to having been an Imperial power in the not-too-distant past but having crumbled/faded). I agree, though, one can overdose on them.

I loved John Wyndham and I'm excited to have only recently discovered John Christopher's back catalogue...