Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Tripods

We all know that trilogies tend to work rather well; it is no coincidence that many of the best plays and books are in three acts. And, after the success of the Lord of the Rings, who could deny that the level of our cinematic technology can allow for almost any scenario to be well depicted?

So, what should be next?

Watching the film of the War Of The Worlds, I was reminded of one of the finest literary trilogies ever written: John Christopher's The Tripods.

John Christopher was one of the best post-apocolypic sci-fi writers, on a par with John Wyndham. Books such as The Death Of Grass and Wrinkle In The Skin are fantastically realised but, in your humble Devil's opinion, the Tripods Trilogy was his finest achievement.

At the time that the BBC adapted the series—which I remember watching and being pretty scared by—it was the most expensive that the Beeb had ever done. Unfortunately, they decided to introduce a number of extraneous and downright contradictory storylines and characters, which not only made a mockery of Christopher's beautifully-realised concepts but also lengthened the first two series well beyond what they should have been. The triumphant third part, The Pool Of Fire, was never made.

The Tripods Trilogy would make an extraordinary and compelling film trilogy; it demands to be made. It seems that either the trilogy, or the first part, may be in production but details are sketchy.

I await further information with considerable interest and I can only hope that the production company are willing and able to do it justice.


JuliaM said...

"I can only hope that the production company are willing and able to do it justice."

Given what Hollywood are currently doing to one of my fondly-remembered books (Susan Cooper's 'The Dark is Rising' series), I wouldn't get your hopes up...

Expect, at the least, the shifting of either the setting, or the lead characters nationality, to the US.

Anonymous said...

I hadn't realised that you were a man of letters. Death of Grass is just one of the greatest science ficion/fantasy books; can't understand why it is out of print; my beloved old fashioned orange/white three shilling penguin version fell apart long ago. Yes, I think he was up there with John Wyndham. But trying to get my children to read Wyndham was not too easy apart from the Midwhich Cuckooos, and rereading some of them myself, they are rather wordy, cosy and redolent of the fifties. Mind you, so am I!


Devil's Kitchen said...


I have hidden depths, you know! Although I rarely write about my literary loves, reading is probably my main joy.

BTW, Amazon have some Death of Grass copies listed, but they start at silly prices.

But I still wander into old second-hand bookshops on the off-chance...


The Tin Drummer said...

The Tripods TV series was also, sadly, stuffed full of child actors who couldn't act. IT has some excellent ideas; in some ways is quite stylish; I still sometimes have nightmares about tripods stalking the land - but a missed opportunity. I think the Beeb were hoping it would kill of Doctor Who once and for all, a show they hated at the time (mid 80s).

Katy Newton said...

I didn't know that anyone else of my age (okay, okay, about my age) remembered Wyndham or Christopher.

And the thought of the Tripods finally being filmed makes me really very excited indeed.

Can we have a post about Dennis Wheatley next?

Devil's Kitchen said...


Yes, you can indeed. Come back in about ten minutes...


The Nameless One said...

I love The Tripods trilogy and agree that it would make an excellent film series - John Christopher is a talented and under-rated author.

If you like his work and have the patience to search rare stuff out then I would recommend looking for Empty World - to my mind one of the best post-apocalyptic novels around.

David B. Wildgoose said...

Heh, I loved The Tripods as well!

And what is this about Hollywood filming "The Dark is Rising" sequence? That fills me with foreboding, unless they decide to get someone like Jackson (LoTR) or Guillermo del Toro (The Devil's Backbone, Pan's Labrynth) to do it.

Fingers crossed!

Oh yeah? So what has happened for the last ten years, exactly?

Over at the ASI, they are posting some of the winning entries of the Young Writers on Liberty. One does not want to put such keen minds off,...