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January 10, 2012 / Wythe

Want to read: The Tripods

From the Wikipedia summary of this series of “young adult novels written by John Christopher, beginning in 1967″—

The story of The Tripods is a variation on post-apocalyptic literature. Humanity has been conquered and enslaved by “the tripods,” unseen alien entities (later identified as “Masters”) who travel about in gigantic three-legged walking machines. Human society is largely pastoral, with few habitations larger than villages, and what little industry exists is conducted under the watchful presence of the tripods. Lifestyle is reminiscent of the Middle Ages, but artifacts from later ages are still used, giving individuals and homes an anachronistic appearance.

The books include:

  • The White Mountains
  • The City of Gold and Lead
  • The Pool of Fire
  • And the prequel, with a much less DnD-esque title, When the Tripods Came

These three summary-excerpts explain some of my excitement regarding these classic tales of humans-versus-aliens/battle-for-ecology, my emphasis:

In the year 2100… Life goes on largely as it had in the pre-industrial era, as all of humanity is subject to mental controls which prevent anyone from challenging the established order. Will, a thirteen year old living in the small (fictional) English village of Wherton, is looking forward to the transition to adulthood which will take place on the next “Capping Day”, until a chance meeting with a mysterious Vagrant named Ozymandias sends him on a quest to discover a world beyond the Tripods’ control. He is accompanied by his cousin Henry, and a French teenager named Jean-Paul, nicknamed “Beanpole” for his height and slimness, and punning similarity to his real name.   …

While Fritz is severely abused by his Master, Will’s Master turns out to be rather benevolent. From him Will learns much about the Masters’ origins and habits, and eventually the Master trusts him so much that he reveals an upcoming operation in which the Earth’s atmosphere is to be replaced by the Masters’ toxic air, eventually killing off all life on Earth and enabling the Masters to assume full control of the planet. Will meticulously records every piece of information in a diary. When the Master one day finds that diary and confronts Will, the boy kills him with a punch to a sensitive nerve cluster in order to maintain his secret.  …

By introducing alcohol into the city water system, the raiding party is able to incapacitate all of the Masters and ultimately to destroy the integrity of the city’s sealed environment, killing all the Masters. The attack on the second city, in eastern Asia, is likewise successful, but the attack on the last city, in Panama, is not. The city bans human slaves to prevent a second infiltration. Next, the Resistance attempts an aerial bombing using its newly constructed aeroplanes. This attack also fails — because the Masters can disable the motors from a distance, presumably with an electromagnetic pulse. Fritz then leads an attack launched from air balloons, which succeeds, although at a terrible cost to the friends: after all the other bombs have been deflected away harmlessly by the city’s impregnable dome, Will’s cousin Henry lands his balloon and detonates his bomb by hand.

Way to make terrifying the word “tripod,” which I shall otherwise continue to associate with three-legged dogs.

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