The Survivors was written by the prolific Terry Nation, who also wrote more than 100 Doctor Who episodes, as well as other stories for TV shows such as The Saint, The Avengers, The Champions and many more. Here is a very brief synopsis of the story:
“A virus has wiped out 95 per cent of the world’s population in just a few weeks, leaving the remaining 5 per cent to stay alive in a world devoid of the most basic amenities – electricity, transport and medicine.”
I never really liked the 70’s TV show, and I was expecting that this book would be similar. However, the book is a radical departure from the old TV show and is an outstanding piece of British post-apocalyptic fiction.
It’s also a fascinating glimpse into history, the Seventies were a time before mobile phones and computers. In some ways, perhaps people today would find it harder to survive without the benefits of the modern world. I found the book to be highly readable, well thought out and extremely well written.
Particular interesting is the main character – Abby, her story is compelling and her character is a natural leader. The story follows her need to be reunited with her son and is very powerful.
The book has an extraordinary twist ending, that is typically British and I shan’t spoil it here, suffice to say that the sting in the tail is reminiscent of the seventies version of ‘Invasion of the Bodysnatchers’. I love this type of ‘what if’ scenario, and the book presents it in a plausible and chilling fashion. Unlike the rather cosy seventies show, the decisions faced by the survivors are often difficult, people die and life is a struggle. The problems of group cohesion are portrayed especially well.
I highly recommend the book, which is far superior to the dodgy old seventies show and the more recent TV remake. It’s a slender, fast-paced book that will leave you with much to ponder and I must say that the issues it raised stayed with me for quite some time. In the wake of the scare over bird-flu, it is also strangely prescient.