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Triffids #1

The Day of the Triffids

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In 1951 John Wyndham published his novel The Day of the Triffids to moderate acclaim. Fifty-two years later, this horrifying story is a science fiction classic, touted by The Times (London) as having “all the reality of a vividly realized nightmare.”

Bill Masen, bandages over his wounded eyes, misses the most spectacular meteorite shower England has ever seen. Removing his bandages the next morning, he finds masses of sightless people wandering the city. He soon meets Josella, another lucky person who has retained her sight, and together they leave the city, aware that the safe, familiar world they knew a mere twenty-four hours before is gone forever.

But to survive in this post-apocalyptic world, one must survive the Triffids, strange plants that years before began appearing all over the world. The Triffids can grow to over seven feet tall, pull their roots from the ground to walk, and kill a man with one quick lash of their poisonous stingers. With society in shambles, they are now poised to prey on humankind. Wyndham chillingly anticipates bio-warfare and mass destruction, fifty years before their realization, in this prescient account of Cold War paranoia.

228 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1951

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About the author

John Wyndham

306 books1,709 followers
John Wyndham Parkes Lucas Beynon Harris was the son of a barrister. After trying a number of careers, including farming, law, commercial art and advertising, he started writing short stories in 1925. After serving in the civil Service and the Army during the war, he went back to writing. Adopting the name John Wyndham, he started writing a form of science fiction that he called 'logical fantasy'. As well as The Day of the Triffids, he wrote The Kraken Wakes, The Chrysalids, The Midwich Cuckoos (filmed as Village of the Damned) and The Seeds of Time.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,618 reviews
Profile Image for Nataliya.
744 reviews11.9k followers
April 25, 2023
Some books can be quite ill-served by their title. 'Not enough triffids!' would complain those lured to this book by the promise of a fun sci-fi romp centered around carnivorous sentient plants - just to find something entirely different.

But you gotta agree - a more appropriate title for this unexpected gem of a book such as "How complete disintegration of society and civilization as we know it, the sudden helplessness and the painful realization how little it takes to throw us off our tenuous perch on the top of the food chain leads to uncomfortable ethical questions about societal structures and conventions and the implications of successful survival in a forever changed world where our morals and ideas and what we think constitutes humanity may become quite obsolete" - well, it doesn't really roll off the tongue, does it?

This book is really about survival in the midst of disintegrating society and all the implications of it that go against the frequent and quite stereotypical portrayal of such happenings. It's not an optimistic ode to the courageous and morally sound few who carry the torch of civilization into the future while dodging death, slaying monsters and coming unscathed out of numerous death traps, proving again and again that humanity triumphs over all obstacles. No, it's more somberly bleak than that.

In Wyndham's story, it did not take much to unravel our society. All it took was a case of worldwide blindness after a breathtakingly beautiful meteor shower that left the vast majority of humans blind, and in the resulting confusion and struggle present-day civilization found its end. Add to it a plague-like outbreak that followed, and finally the titular triffids (semi-sentient mobile carnivorous plants carelessly bioengineered by humans back when our supremacy was a given) - and the survivors of the disaster have their hands full when they try to survive and rebuild some kind of organized new world.
"Standing there, and at that time, my heart still resisted what my head was telling me. Even yet I had the feeling that it was all something too big, too unnatural really to happen. Yet I knew that it was by no means the first time that it had happened. The corpses of other great cities are lying buried in deserts, and obliterated by the jungles of Asia. Some of them fell so long ago that even their names have gone with them. But to those who lived there their dissolution can have seemed no more probable or possible than the necrosis of a great modern city seemed to me...

It must be, I thought, one of the race's most persistent and comforting hallucinations to trust that 'it can't happen here' - that one's own little time and place is beyond cataclysms. And now it was happening here. Unless there should be some miracle I was looking on the beginning of the end of London - and very likely, it seemed, there were other men, not unlike me, who were looking on the beginning of the end of New York, Paris, San Francisco, Buenos Aires, Bombay, and all the rest of the cities that were destined to go the way of those others under the jungle."
The questions that must be faced once the end of the world as we know it arrives are not heroic (How do we triumph over the monsters?) but quite prosaically practical and yet staggering in their implications: How do we go on as a society - and is there even a place for society as we know it? What do we preserve? What do we have to discard? How do we deal with realizing our own weakness and fragility as a species? Is there a place for the old values and ideas of good and evil, of morals, of responsibility - or does the changed society make us necessarily evolve with it? How much can we move on in the world that has moved on?

And the titular triffids lurk just around the corner, hiding in the background until you expect them the least, presenting a slow but steady threat to any attempts to regroup and rebuild, rising up the suddenly vacated niche of the top predators as humans are busy surviving - but they are not the only monsters around.

The real challenge to the survival of humans are, of course, other humans. As they come to grips with what happened, every group of survivors - seeing and blind alike - all have their own ideas where this new world should be heading to. Conventional morals and usual laws collapse with the society that created them. That's where Wyndham in a very detached, frequently deceptively neutral and sometimes even deadpan delivers the examples of various conventional and not-so-conventional societal set-ups (none of them even remotely ideal) which all challenge ethical principles and societal conventions in so many different ways - and the trouble is, some of them may be necessary in this forever changed world.

Of course, written in 1951, this book is very much the product of its time. The eventual threat of the triffids originated, as one would expect in the Cold War society, from the unexplainable and mysterious depths of the enemy Russia. The attitudes of characters are frequently quite paternalistic, especially when any woman is concerned. The attitudes towards disability are very appropriate for that time - and, needless to say, not for our day and age.

And yet despite the dated attitudes there is a time-transcending quality to Wyndham's storytelling and its purpose, and that's what makes this book survive to the present day as a classic that does not stop being relevant, that still makes you think critically about humanity and society and question things that we are so used to taking for granted, and that treats humanity despite all of our clear flaws and arrogance as something that deserves to survive and persevere.
“When a day that you happen to know is Wednesday starts off by sounding like Sunday, there is something seriously wrong somewhere.”
Profile Image for carol..
1,535 reviews7,875 followers
August 11, 2021
A classic.

Sometimes classic is good.

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Sometimes classic is interesting.

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And sometimes, it's classic just because it was first, not best.


For me, Triffids is a classic in the last sense, as one of the first novels in an era exploring the end of civilization. Colored by recent events of World War II, many writers in the 50s focused on nuclear holocaust. Wyndham went a slightly different direction, forseeing genetic manipulation and biological warfare. While his vision interested me, the didactic tone, the half-baked attempt at romance and the (quelle suprise) characterization of women downgraded my enthusiasm. Is an apocalypse where women don't automatically become babymakers permitted?

(Yes, I know: he's reflective of his time period. It just goes to show how deeply ingrained our culture can be, that he can imagine revolutionary technology and walking, stalking plants, but not a reinvention of humanity where women aren't popping babies out until they die).

It begins in a hospital, the night after most of the world has been watching the night meteor showers, a brilliant display of natural fireworks. Our narrator, Bill, has been stuck in a ward, waiting for his bandages to come off. He's been temporarily blinded by the poison from a triffid, a strange, semi-carnivorous plant capable of pulling up roots and walking to a better location. The day he is supposed to get his bandages removed, he's struck by the absence of hospital staff. If you've seen Night of the Comet, you know the drill. His discovery, his emotional turmoil--all feels well done and believable. However, I struggled with Wyndhams vision of the societal response of

At any rate, almost all apocalypse novels require a suspension of disbelief, so I jumped back into the story and was pleasantly surprised by the triffids' backstory. Here is where Wyndham shone; he created an ominous tone and a sense of danger to humans from plants. By the time he brings the story around to the present, I was invested in Bill's survival as he negotiates the new world, even if he does it with frequent stops at the pub. Unfortunately, the introduction of Josella, a modern, liberated writer--although not nearly as liberated as her Shades of Grey stories would have her seem--proved to be problematic for me.

The intellectual explorations were most interesting when Wyndham broke down the issue of how a handful of sighted people could take care of the blind. It was one of those moments that seemed to expose the vast chasm between late 1940s and current time, the idea that being blind equated to useless dependency. I was interested in his ethical conundrum until he took the quick escape by

I did like the way Wyndham refused to provide clear answers to the question of the interlocking of the multiple threats. Perhaps that is more in line with the writing of the time (thinking Canticle for Leibowitz) that assumed no records would be transmitted/ left, while current writers need to address our virtually instant communication systems.

In retrospect, the focus seems more about exploring the breakdown of society and how people chose to re-construct in the aftermath, and not about the characters or plot. Granted, that's frequently a staple of the genre, but here emotional engagement was limited, so it didn't reach its potential. Although, perhaps that was a good thing, as too much focus on Josella might have caused eyestrain.

Cross-posted at http://clsiewert.wordpress.com/2013/0...
Profile Image for Alex.
1,418 reviews4,382 followers
July 7, 2021
One of the reasons scifi gets a bad rap is that so much of it is so very shitty, and here's a prime example. There was a major strain of woman-hating, mansplaining, faux-intellectual, oft-Randian bullshit that sprang up in the latter 20th century, spearheaded by the idiot propaganda of Robert Heinlein and Ray Bradbury; this miserable 1951 book was a harbinger.

The setup is standard scifi: human overreaching leads to a holocaust. In this case the overreach takes the shape of mass blindness - like Blindness but dumber - and, more famously, a plague of deadly shambling plants, a proto-Monsanto vision that's amusing enough to give Triffids the minor cult status it doesn't deserve. But the major threat here is, typically, not the plants but the surviving humans. So we get a tour through the civilized options - socialism, feudalism, theocracy - while Wyndham sputters that they're unworkable next to John Galt's solution: selfish oligarchy.

Wyndham's world, where a tiny minority can see and the rest are blind, is a blunt metaphor for Rand's philosophy (popularized eight years previous by her first hit, The Fountainhead). Through no fault of anyone, a tiny group of people are simply more competent. And his point, made again and again, is that those competent people can't worry about the rest: they're hopeless and must be left to die on their own. To try to take care of them is to doom them and the oligarchy. "The thinking has to be done largely by people who are not directly productive," Wyndham suggests. "Either we can set out to save what can be saved from the wreck - and that has to include ourselves - or we can devote ourselves to stretching the lives of these people a little longer. That is the most objective view I can take." Sounds good, right? Sign me up for the thinkin' team! You can be on the doin' and dyin' team. And note the overt nod to the nascent Objectivist movement.

Wyndham's alter ego Bill makes these speeches often to his love interest, Josella, whom he spends much of the book searching for because he forgot that she directly told him where to meet her. You can see why he loves her: she's thrilled when, in the midst of crisis, he pauses to lecture her about Latin. (Chicks go crazy for that.) And she's totally down for the idea that the world must be repopulated by means of each man having a harem. She's going to pick out a couple blind women for his harem. Cool, right? "After all, most women want babies anyway," Bill notes. "The husband's just...the local means to the end."

Why a harem, rather than a polyamorous sort of deal? Why should men have several partners but women just one? Because John Wyndham is a jackass.

Here's what Bill does right after Josella proposes finding him a harem of blind breeder women: "I ruminated a little on the ways of purposeful, subversive-minded women like Florence Nightingale and [19th-century prison reformer] Elizabeth Fry. They so often turn out to have been right after all."

If you want to pause for a moment and ruminate a little on the fact that Wyndham just compared Florence Nightingale to a pimp, I understand. I'll be here. "We hold the chance of as full a life as ['those blind girls'] can have," says Josella of the harem idea. "Shall we give it to them as part of our gratitude - or shall we simply withhold it on account of the prejudices we've been taught? ...You don't need to worry at all, my dear. I shall choose two nice, sensible girls."

The danger of lazy scifi is that when you invent a whole world, you can also invent human behavior in it. It lends itself to didacticism - to the creation of a reality that entirely supports one's worldview. Dissenting opinions can be made to fail. A character named Coker tries to create a society that protects the blind, and everyone dies, so...see? Altruism is dumb. After Coker comes around, he says of a less enthusiastic convert, "You'd think she'd be reasonable." Bill replies,
Most people aren't, even though they'd protest that they are. They prefer to be coaxed or wheedled, or even driven. That way they never make a mistake: if there is one, it's always due to something or somebody else. This going headlong for things is a mechanistic view, and people in general aren't machines. They have minds of their own - mostly peasant minds, at their easiest when they are in the familiar furrow.
But there are many furrows, and this one is full of shit.
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,868 reviews16.5k followers
July 16, 2017
Audrey II: Feed me!

Seymour: Does it have to be human?

Audrey II: Feed me!

Seymour: Does it have to be mine?

Audrey II: Feeeed me!

Seymour: Where am I supposed to get it?

Audrey II: [singing] Feed me, Seymour / Feed me all night long - That's right, boy! - You can do it! Feed me, Seymour / Feed me all night long / Ha ha ha ha ha! / Cause if you feed me, Seymour / I can grow up big and strong.

John Wyndham published his novel The Day of the Triffids in 1951 and it’s influence on speculative fiction since has been Triffidulous. (Including Little Shop of Horrors)

Being perhaps an allegory for Cold War paranoia and also maybe a cautionary tale about the deleterious effects of mucking about with nature and the biological results of such shenanigans.

Wyndham does an above average job with characterization in a post-apocalyptic setting as the world has been dealt a knockout one-two punch from a Triffid infestation and a blinding meteor shower. This is also a very post WWII English story and its perspective is clearly consequential from the earlier conflict.

All in all, a classic sci-fi story that should be read by any self respecting fan of the genre, and it’s fun (when its not being the world after destruction English stiff upper lippery)

Profile Image for Apatt.
507 reviews782 followers
March 12, 2021
“When a day that you happen to know is Wednesday starts off by sounding like Sunday, there is something seriously wrong somewhere”

Not exactly up there with “It was the best of times etc.” but a great opening line I think. The Day of the Triffids is John Wyndham’s best known and most popular book by far. A case can be made for some of his other books being better, The Chrysalids and The Midwich Cuckoos for instance, but “Triffids” is the people’s choice, and having just reread it, decades after my first reading, I can see why. This book has a great premise, set in the ever popular post-apocalypse scenario and awesome implacable monsters. I was going to write “this book is clearly the precursor to the zombie apocalypse genre” as if it was an original thought that would have won me the Nobel, but before climbing to the rooftop with my megaphone to air this world shattering observation I Googled “triffid zombie” and loads of people have made the same connection. Pretty obvious really, but while there is a surfeit of zombie books, films and TV shows there are not nearly enough “The Walking Plants” shows being made. If homicidal flora was a popular sci-fi/horror subgenre, the triffids would be the most badass, with Robert Plant coming in a close second.

At the beginning of the book, triffids are already commonplace, a rich source of top quality oil and farmed throughout the world. In spite of their nasty habit of whacking people on the face with their retractable sting, they were kept well under control by the farmers. Unfortunately one night a green meteor shower hit the Earth creating stupendously spectacular light show that unfortunately causes blindness to people who look at it. This suits the triffids very well because they don’t need eyes and they soon break out of their captivity and start to overrun the world. The narrative is told from the protagonist, Bill Masen’s point of view, who luckily escaped blindness while hospitalized. The plot focuses on Bill’s struggle to survive in this post-apocalypse landscape, his meeting with numerous people, communities and groups of survivors.

I first read this book decades ago and before this reread I thought that the meteor shower and the advent of the triffids seem too much like a coincidence. Now I realize that the one thing did not in any way create the other. If there was no meteor shower people would have gone on happily farming triffids for fun and profit. Another misconception I had was that The Day of the Triffids is all about the triffid invasion, a sort of The War of the Worlds with plants instead of tripods. In fact, more emphasis is placed on the post-apocalypse aspect of the book than the fight against triffids. The triffids are mainly environmental hazards. Most of the plotline concerns the different types of communities that are formed after the global blindness event. How some sighted people try to help out the blind, while others treat them as slaves. Wyndham even explores the new types of social mores that are developed to adapt to the circumstances. Polygamy, feudalism, despotism etc. are explored as potential models of society. Basically, it is not wall to wall monster plants busting fun.

Another awesome triffid art by Cthulhusaurus-Rex

In fact, the triffids are “off stage” for much of the book, only toward the end that they are seen as the main threat to humanity’s survival. The book has more depth than I expected but the pace seldom slackens. If you are, indeed, looking for some plant busting action you won’t be disappointed but you have to be patient for a bit Wyndham had more on his mind than that. I think one missed opportunity is to have one blind central character, not necessarily the protagonist, who is naturally blind from birth, to depict how he copes in comparison with the nu-blinds. In fact, the blind characters are generally ineffectual, not a Daredevil among them. It is ironic that the "bad guys" treat the blinds like second class citizens, while Wyndham himself uses them as tertiary characters or less. Where are the brilliant blind scientists, strategists, fighters etc.? I wonder if the Braille version of this book is popular among the blinds?

Characterization is not really the novel’s strong point. Bill is a fairly typical decent everyman protagonist, his love interest Josella has the distinction of being an author of a bestseller called “Sex is My Adventure”, a “silly-shocking” book. Other than that she does not do or say much of interest. Later on, a little girl called Susan shows up, she is – at least – quite competent and quite lively. Another supporting character Wilfred Coker, with his pragmatic and uncompromising attitude, is a good foil for our hero. Fortunately, with the epic setting and plot, the flattish characters is not too much of an issue. The triffids are, of course, magnificent creations, they communicate by drumming which makes them a sort of Neil Pearts of the plant world. They may not have much of a personality but they have plenty of character.

The Day of the Triffids is indeed quite t’rrific. Definitely a sci-fi classic not to be missed.

• This book may have also originated the "wake up in a hospital to find the apocalypse has been and gone" trope, as seen in the movie 28 Days Later and The Walking Dead TV series.

• Next film adaptation (hopefully one is in the works) should have a cameo by Stevie Wonder whose lyrics would be perceived as incredibly prophetic:
“No New Year's Day to celebrate
No chocolate covered candy hearts to give away
No first of spring
No song to sing…”

He could even be the protagonist. The way he sways his head all the time no triffid would be able to hit him.

“And now, folks, get a load of what our cameraman found in Ecuador. Vegetables on vacation! You've only seen this kind of thing after a party, but down in sunny Ecuador they see it any time-and no hangover to follow! Monster plants on the march!”

“Somewhere in them is intelligence. It can't be seated in a brain, because dissection shows nothing like a brain-but that doesn't prove there isn't something there that does a brain's job.”

“The more obviously humane course is also, probably, the road to suicide. Should we spend our time in prolonging misery when we believe that there is no chance of saving the people in the end? Would that be the best use to make of ourselves?”

"There is one thing to be made quite clear to you before you decide to join our community. It is that those of us who start on this task will all have our parts to play. The men must work-the women must have babies. Unless you can agree to that, there can be no place for you in our community."

Triffid Life Cycle from the 2009 (not very good) TV mini series (click image to embiggen)

A triffid from BBC's 1981 mini-series
Profile Image for Lisa.
977 reviews3,327 followers
May 26, 2019
For a person who claims not to like science fiction, I read and enjoy quite a lot of it! (In my professional life, I would now expect my students to rephrase their claim, as it is obviously not matching the evidence, but being stubborn, I stay firm!)

This is a thought-provoking novel, and it has not lost much of its message since its first publication. Humankind is still prone to self-destruction by carelessness and short-sightedness, and we still have diverse ways of dealing with and interpreting catastrophe. Groups are still likely to form around strong leaders, and they are also still likely to be intolerant of other groups and their interpretation of society.

What I particularly liked about this sci-fi take on apocalypse and the survival of a few people was the insight that knowledge, however complex and vast, can be lost if humanity is not organised enough to provide a place for teaching and learning. I also think the reflection on the limitation of theoretical knowledge is spot-on, showing the difficulty to apply theory without practical advice and guidance. The religious aspect is equally interesting. Future generations will need a creation myth to make the new world they live in meaningful. My favourite take on this idea is still Margaret Atwood's MaddAddam, but "The Day of The Triffids" works with the same theme.

As for the triffids, they are a symbol for human intervention in natural environments, but they remain rather bizarre and undefined. There is no actual need for them to be there at all. The whole catastrophe could have taken place without them interfering. In a situation where the vast majority of humanity turns abruptly blind, the natural world constitutes enough of an obstacle to overcome without walking and talking plants to add to the predicament. But as a thought experiment, I found them rather amusing!

Recommended for people who don't like science fiction but enjoy reading it anyway.
Profile Image for Zain.
1,378 reviews141 followers
April 9, 2023
A post-apocalyptic novel, written by John Wyndham in 1951, The Day of the Triffids is a classic.

While spending the night in the hospital because of eye surgery, our protagonist, Bill Masen misses out on a meteor shower which leaves most of the world blinded.

Evil plants called triffids, which suddenly appeared around the world a few years before, swiftly takes advantage of the hopeless confusion and prey upon the population.

With 90% of the people blind, no government in charge and deadly diseases running rampant, the world is filled with horror.

Since this book was written so long ago, it’s easy to see the influence it has had on so many apocalyptic stories. I continuously thought about the series The Walking Dead while reading this book. The triffids are obviously the zombies of this story. And the small groups of people banding together trying to eke out an existence is familiar to TWD.

I wish I had known about this book years ago. Way before I ever watched The Walking Dead. Instead of thinking about the tv show while reading this book, I would be thinking about the triffids when I’m looking at zombies.

Four stars. ✨✨✨✨
Profile Image for Paul Weiss.
1,221 reviews169 followers
December 16, 2022
Post-Apocalypse Now!

Fantastic, frightening and entirely plausible, Day of the Triffids is a post-apocalyptic story based on a simple hypothesis - mass blindness coupled with the natural disaster of a mobile stinging plant called the triffid created by genetic engineering gone sour! Wyndham's genius is how he uses the tale of his still sighted protagonists, Bill Masen and Josella Playton, to address the moral and psychological issues that would be certain to raise their heads in this particular new world order - the definition of marriage, sexuality and the survival of the race, law and order, male vs female roles, government and authority, survival of the fittest and many more. Thought provoking in the extreme and yet still completely satisfying even when read only on the surface as a science-fiction thriller!

Paul Weiss
Profile Image for Sean Barrs .
1,113 reviews44.4k followers
April 6, 2022
The Day of the Triffids is an intelligent novel with many notable themes, but it's let down by its bland characters.

It discusses ecology, the importance of environmental circumstances in the formation of differing societies and the corruptibility of humans. At the heart of things though, it is a novel of survival in a world overrun with deadly and murderous plants (the Triffids.) It’s an iconic piece of writing, and it has a lot going for it; however, it fails to deliver a certain sense of feeling within the story.

It all feels rather cold. Now I’m not talking about the more cunning characters who have set up their own post-apocalyptic society upon the labour of the impoverished and the blind, but the central cast: the protagonist especially. I found Bill to be rather detached from the events that were happening, and at times he felt like a bystander. Sure, he is a rather ordinary person though he drifts from group to group, and situation to situation, as a matter of circumstance. He certainly does not drive the story forward and I found it rather difficult to invest in him or to care about his actual fate.

This is a common criticism of mine for science-fiction of the era; it just lacks this vital ingredient that makes effective storytelling so compelling. The balance is often off between great ideas and well written characters. Indeed, it’s the narration on the follies of humans and the collapse of society that made the novel engaging. And it’s why the book is so famous. The Triffids are the immediate and obvious threat to the survival of mankind, but the real enemy lurks within because it is humans that are the real threat to their own survival. They were unprepared for something so monumental, and if history teaches us anything, they will fight each other for just about any reason.

“It must be, I thought, one of the race's most persistent and comforting hallucinations to trust that "it can't happen here" -- that one's own time and place is beyond cataclysm.”

There is a certain sense of realism within this with its feudal societies and distinct personalities that establish ideas of how man would actually behave in such an apocalypse. And I think this idea has been copied (or at least mirrored) by consequential works that clearly have drawn inspiration from this story. I see a lot of this book in survival horrors such as The Road, The Death of Grass and even in The Walking Dead. It clearly is an important piece of writing that has been crucial in helping establish a genre.

It's an interesting read and I am glad I finally did read it, but there is something important missing within its pages. And although I enjoyed reading about the themes and ideas it discusses, I know I would have enjoyed it more had the protagonist been a little bit more compelling.


You can connect with me on social media via My Linktree.
Profile Image for Jon Nakapalau.
4,926 reviews686 followers
June 2, 2022
One of the most underappreciated si-fi classics of all time. Not only original in conception of 'invader' - but also in the way 'they' would conquer humanity. Often imitated in so many different iterations; this book (to me) is also about degrees of alienation and conformity; how we can become our own worst enemy given the right circumstances.
Profile Image for Dan Schwent.
2,926 reviews10.6k followers
August 15, 2008
Everything seemed fine with the domesticated Triffids until the Earth passed through the tail of a comet, blinding much of the world's population. It was then the Triffids struck!

I love the proto-sf of the first half of the 20th century, when the lines between sf and horror were more blurred than they are now. Day of the Triffids is one of those books that many things that came later owe a debt to. The roots of the survival horror genre can be found within its pages, in my opinion. Many zombie flicks owe a debt of gratitude to this book. Heck, 28 Days Later lifted the beginning directly. Guy wakes up in hospital to find the whole world has changed while he was asleep. Sound familiar?

The Triffids themselves are a little ridiculous but still scary. A walking plant with a venomous sting is nothing to laugh at.
Profile Image for Jan-Maat.
1,548 reviews1,821 followers
January 25, 2020
This 1951 novel was written when nuclear war and the potential end of civilisation as it was known was a more immediate concern than it mostly is today. Early in the book there is an oblique reference to Lysenko and the Soviet Union - which helps to date it to that post war period. Truly Wyndham's concern is not with the potential end of civilisation itself, but really with what comes next.

Destruction then, whether by bomb or plant, isn't the point of this book. It becomes a device to get to the Robinson Crusoe question of how do you choose to rebuild society .

There is a question of if in the face of the post-war situation, the beginning of the Welfare State and the end of Empire that the author was fantasising about wiping the country clear and starting over again. In any case the Triffids, while inconvenient, are easily dealt with by the man who has gumption, know-how, and a home-made flame thrower. They form no serious threat .

While The War of the Worlds is about military preparedness, Triffids is more about moral preparedness - what kind of new society will you create given the opportunity. There's a gladness about being able to put a manly shoulder to problems and get on with solving issues in a straight forward practical kind of way, despite this it is not an entirely uncompassionate society judging by how the blinded citizens are treated, but it is a survivorist's fantasy in the chalk downlands of southern England.
Profile Image for Joe Valdez.
485 reviews808 followers
February 12, 2015
The next stop in my end-of-the-world reading marathon was The Day of the Triffids, the 1951 man-versus-plants tale by John Wyndham. After an apocalyptic journey across the United States in The Stand and Swan Song, it was fascinating to read about how the U.K. might tackle doomsday and I have to say that the stoic and unruffled British response gave me hope for mankind's endurance.

With the first of several imaginative chapter titles (The End Begins) and cheeky wit, Wyndham introduces our narrator, thirty-year-old Bill Masen, who wakes at St. Merryn's Hospital in the West End of London with bandages over his eyes. It seems that the world has come to some kind of a standstill, but without his sight, Bill is slow to comprehend what might be happening. Due to his injury, he missed out on the celestial event of a lifetime, a shower of green shooting stars which everyone looked up to observe while Bill was bedridden.

Stripping off his bandages, Bill wanders the halls of the hospital, discovering scenes he compares to Doré's pictures of sinners in hell, with patients massed in the lobby, sobbing or moaning, none of them with the sight to find the exit. Running into a pub across the street, Bill finds two blind men. One of them reveals that his wife and boys were blinded by the "bloody comets" along with everyone else in London. The man bowed out of participating with his wife in suicide by gas fumes and is in search of something stronger than gin to drink to summon the courage to join them.

Bill backtracks to explain his occupation and how it landed him in the hospital. He's a biologist specializing in the cultivation of a strange new form of carnivorous flora that appeared suddenly many years ago. Covered with sticky, leathery green leaves, the plants grow anywhere from four to six feet in height and have a funnel-like formation at the top of their stems from which a whip-like stinger attacks its victims. Three small sticks at the base of the stem allow the plants to walk and have inspired the media to name them "triffids".

Quite a problem in some tropical regions, triffids are more of a curiosity in the developed world, where they're kept chained up or cultivated on farms. Bill holds the distinction of being one of the first Britons stung by a triffid and developed a fascination with the creatures. His co-worker Walter notes that the triffids seem to share some form of communication and that if not for the benefit of sight, man would quickly find himself under them in the food chain. While on the job, a triffid splashes poison inside Bill's protective goggles, sending him to the hospital.

Wandering the groping city, Bill comes across the blind as they stagger the sidewalks for food. He determines that assisting them would only delay the inevitable. He makes an exception by responding to the screams of a young woman he finds being beaten in an alley by a blind man who appears to have lassoed her into service as a seeing eye dog. Bill rescues the woman, an author named Josella Playton, and escorts her home, where she discovers her father and their hired help all felled by triffids which have surrounded the house.

Bill & Josella find an abandoned apartment to spend the night and form a plan of action. With no civil authority coming to help and more Londoners resorting to suicide, Bill determines that they need to evacuate the city before the corpses pose a health hazard. Josella suggests a farmhouse she knows of in Sussex Downs that has a water pump and makes it own electricity. Before turning in, they spot a search light originating from University Tower and inspect it before leaving London. There, the couple discover more sighted survivors. At the time, none of them are as concerned about the triffids as Bill is.

The Day of the Triffids kept my blood pressure strictly at 120/80. I can't remember getting excited once in the course of 225 pages and initially, I chalked this up as a fail. Bill & Josella seem so mild-mannered in their response to the apocalypse, as if a cup of tea and to-do list will make all this end-of-the-world business quite all right, mate. Bill observes some disturbing things, but like his narrator, Wyndham doesn't see much to gain by getting particularly upset by them. It's such a stereotypically removed British approach and it took some getting used to.

Wyndham's writing is a delight and kept me flipping the pages, even when Bill & Josella seemed more inconvenienced than endangered.

I myself had not been one of those addicted to living in an apartment with a rent of some two thousand pounds a year, but I found that there were decidedly things to be said in favor of it. The interior decorators had been, I guessed, elegant young men with just that ingenious gift for combining taste with advanced topicality which is so expensive. Consciousness of fashion was the mainspring of the place. Here and there were certain unmistakable derniers cris, some of them undoubtedly destined --had the world pursued its expected course--to become the rage of tomorrow; others, I would say, a dead loss from their very inception.

The storytelling gets a bit choppy as Wyndham introduces retina-damaging comets and then backpedals to introduce a carnivorous plant species -- one or the other would've sufficed for a novel this short -- and I didn't find his explanation for either to be very compelling. The life cycle of the triffid didn't seem particularly thought out and as a monster, leaves a lot to be desired. Being attacked by a triffid actually seems preferable to surviving one, especially if you were blinded.

The more time I allowed myself to think about Wyndham's slow motion apocalypse, the more spooky it became. A great silence overwhelms the world and the survivors are presented with quite a bit of remorse as they fend for themselves and leave the not-so-fortunate on their own. The stoic response seems to be little more than a coping mechanism on the part of Bill & Josella and Wyndham does a great job of painting how hopeless the fight against nature would become.

The Day of the Triffids has endured in radio, film and television. The 1963 film version in Cinemascope is one of the key creature features I grew up with. The BBC produced a television serial based on the novel in 1981 and again in 2009, with Dougray Scott as Bill and Joely Richardson as Jo. Wyndham's work has also had a big impact on apocalyptic tales not involving triffids, with both 28 Days Later and The Walking Dead taking their cues from this novel.
Profile Image for Manny.
Author 29 books13.7k followers
January 9, 2010
Stop me if you've heard this one before. It's a shame we don't have some ham. (You're supposed to say "Why?")

Well, because then if we had some eggs, we'd have ham and eggs! Gotcha.

The Day of the Triffids is rather similar. It's lucky that scientists haven't used bioengineering to create a deadly but slow-moving carnivorous plant. Because then if a mysterious comet caused everyone to go blind overnight, we'd all be sitting ducks!

It's not quite as bad as I'm making out. Admittedly, on a scale of scariness where your average Stephen King gets an 8, I'm afraid that this won't rate more than a 3. But if you're into being very moderately scared in a 1950s British way, I can definitely recommend it.
Profile Image for Penny.
121 reviews
September 16, 2007
When I was about 14, I read my father's old Penguin classic copy -- a bright orange paperback from the 1950s. And absolutely loved it. I've read it countless times since, and is one of the books I think about most. Officially my favorite book.

Having said that -- it has no literary pretensions, most characters are fairly one dimensional, and the triffids themselves (walking, thinking, carnivorous plants) I have always thought of as a rather annoying distraction. What gripped me, and grips me still, is the central premise -- that one day, the vast majority of humanity goes blind (Jose Saramago, the Nobel prize winner, has the same premise in "Blindness," but for my money Wyndham makes a better job of it).

What got me was the ease with which civilization is destroyed. Something enters the atmosphere looking like a green comet and puts on a breathtaking show -- nearly everyone on earth rushes out to watch, and wakes up blind. This is easily 99% of humanity. The few sighted people must decide whether to help the people around them, or to go off and set up their own society. In the middle of the book, there is a talky chapter in which various sighted people debate the options.

The main character is a guy called Bill Masen, who was in a hospital outside London with his eyes bandaged on the day of the comet. Through him we see the fate of London and the British countryside.

If this book were written today, it would be 1000 pages (The Stand, anyone?). Wyndham brings it in at about 200. A fast read, and a brilliant conceit.
Profile Image for Adrian.
562 reviews197 followers
June 27, 2021
Read in 2021 as part of SF &F Group read
GR tells me that this is my second read of this novel, whereas the reality is its probably my 8th or 9th over the past 40+ years. It has to be one of my favourite books as to me it celebrates the human spirit and overall goodness.
Waking in hospital after a few days with his head swathed in bandages after a nearly fatal Triffid sting across the face, Bill, the male hero of the novel, is concerned when nobody answers his calls. The previous night virtually all of the world had watched an amazing meteor display, whilst Bill had to make do with a description as he was unable to watch due to his injuries.
When no-one is forthcoming he eventually unwraps his bandages to find his sight is fine, but the hospital is in chaos. Realising something is amiss, Bill discharges himself and wanders the streets of London, where he realises that the meteor shower has permanently blinded almost all the population.
With no-one to control or corral them, many Triffids have escaped and are stinging and killing thousands of the helpless meandering blind people.
Like many Wyndham novels, there is a true female lead, and Bill soon encounters her when he comes across a blind man who is bullying a sighted woman to lead him around. Josella is rescued by Bill and their adventures then begin.
A truly wonderful novel.

Read in 2016 for my OANCC
Glorious, from start to finish, this has to be one of my favourite books. As I read I'm there, it helps I know all the places but the writing and story are just soooo good.
Three cheers for John Wyndham (Beynon, Lucas , Harris etc).
If you like classic Sci Fi this is THE book to read, full stop !! Oh ok there's also WotW.
Profile Image for Ayz.
101 reviews13 followers
May 6, 2023
seminal really.

the opening of this atmospheric novel heavily influenced the opening to another classic: alex garland’s ‘28 days later’ screenplay — where garland essentially swapped out triffids for rage infected zombies, and hit the zeitgeist lottery.

but the debt is clear, belonging to wyndhams eerie and influential brit sci fi gem.

much worth a read, even if just for the great set up.
Profile Image for Jenna ❤ ❀  ❤.
789 reviews1,184 followers
April 5, 2023
Carnivorous Plant GIF - Carnivorous Plant GIFs

"When a day that you happen to know is Wednesday starts off by sounding like Sunday, there is something seriously wrong somewhere."

In 1973, two scientists genetically engineered an organism by transferring a gene that encodes antibiotic resistance from one strain of bacteria into another, giving antibiotic resistance to the recipient.

Though humans have been selectively modifying plants and animals for thousands of years, this was breakthrough technology. Now we could simply swap DNA from one species to another, without having to slowly modify over many generations.

When John Wyndham published "The Day of the Triffids" in 1951, GMOs were still decades in the future. His triffids were created in a lab by scientists in the Soviet Union, but he does not explain how they did it. It's not even 100% a given that they did. However, this must have seemed an astounding idea at the time.

Though it no longer is shocking, this was still a really good book. It's very well written and though somewhat dated, I enjoyed it nonetheless, enjoyed following Bill Masen after he wakes up in a hospital bed one morning to find that there are no nurses to answer his call.

After removing the bandages that had been covering his eyes and leaving his room, he discovers that just about everyone is blind. He is told about the mysterious and beautiful green lights that filled the sky the night before, and which are probably responsible for the loss of vision experienced by everyone who saw them.

Making matters worse are the triffids, plants that have the ability to pick up their roots and move. These are not your friendly daisies or daffodils. These triffids are venomous and carnivorous and a sting by one of them is enough to kill a human being.

As the days go by, Bill encounters a few other lucky souls who missed the light show and still have their sight. They have to learn to make do in a world that is suddenly much different.... and more dangerous.

There's not a lot of action and it's not very gory, so some readers might not like it. For a book about murderous plants, it's pretty tame.

However, I didn't find that to be a negative thing. I was immersed in the book and couldn't wait to find out how it would end.

Unfortunately, nothing is ever explained 100%, and the end was unsatisfying for me, knocking it down to 4 stars. I'm still really glad I read it.
Profile Image for Ken.
2,164 reviews1,322 followers
January 2, 2019
One of the most iconic books of the Twentieth Century, many of the elements that makes The Day of the Triffids great are still homaged today.

Botanist Bill Masen wakes up in hospital having been splashed in the eyes by the poison from the strange plant creatures known as Triffids.
During he’s recuperating he learns of a cosmic green meteor shower that has light up the night sky the previous evening.
Disoriented by the silence Bill unbandaged himself to find London in chaos, with most of the population suffering from blindness.

There’s a fascinating poetic correlation to those plants having found a human weaknesses and inevitably saving the main protagonist Bill’s sight, it’s a story about survival and like the best dystopian stories there’s a really unsettling feel to the deserted locations.

One of the great Sci-Fi classics!
Profile Image for Paul O’Neill.
Author 3 books174 followers
May 17, 2021
A book everyone should read. I love it when a story takes a jab at humanity and how balls up it generally is or can get.

A rather amusing, cleanly told story. Amongst the many, many, many (oh so many) crappy post apocalyptic books out there, this still has to be one of the best and most original. It has walking killer plants for goodness sakes!!

Read it, and you'll never look at your garden in the same way again...

Very cleanly written, short and interesting.
Profile Image for J.L.   Sutton.
666 reviews867 followers
March 14, 2022
“When a day that you happen to know is Wednesday starts off by sounding like Sunday, there is something seriously wrong somewhere.”


While John Wyndham's The Day of the Triffids feels somewhat like a bad horror film, it's also a lot of fun. It starts with a comet that turns most of the population blind. Our protagonist must decide how best to survive the ensuing chaos. However, that's just the beginning. Day of the Triffids was memorable (with its carnivorous and mobile plants preying on survivors) as well as engaging. 3.5 stars

“It must be, I thought, one of the race's most persistent and comforting hallucinations to trust that "it can't happen here" -- that one's own time and place is beyond cataclysm.”

“And we danced, on the brink of an unknown future, to an echo from a vanished past.”
Profile Image for Tom Lewis.
Author 8 books182 followers
December 31, 2019
This was a fun post-apocalyptic novel written in 1951, which had a heavy influence on the zombie-apocalypse genre that began several decades later. The story features triffids, tall carnivorous plants that are able to shamble about on their roots, and use their long venomous branches to lash out like whips to slay their prey. They populate quickly as their seeds disburse on the wind, but never really presented a problem until one night when the earth passed through the tail of the comet. The majority of the earth’s population watched the dazzling light show in the sky that night, and woke up blind the next day. The story then unfolds in a 28 Days Later type pattern, and the movie borrowed heavily from the book in some of its iconic scenes and overall themes (eg. the hero waking up in the hospital, and later walking through a deserted Piccadilly Circus…). I’m docking it one star because I wasn’t a fan of the dialogue, but it’s definitely worth a read as a fresh take on how civilization ends.
Profile Image for Megan Baxter.
985 reviews656 followers
May 19, 2014
For some reason, I had the impression that Day of the Triffids was about the sudden attack of man-killing mobile plants. So I was surprised when it was revealed that the triffids had been around for a long time and a worldwide case of blindness was the cause of the catastrophe - the triffids merely took advantage of it.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the recent changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.

In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook
Profile Image for Nandakishore Mridula.
1,242 reviews2,256 followers
April 11, 2018
Post-apocalyptic fiction, now, has come of age. We are familiar with the desolate landscape of a planet destroyed by war/ pestilence/ pollution/ unexplained natural or supernatural event, populated by a handful of "normal" people trying to survive amidst hostile flora and fauna, as well as a large number of "abnormal" people - zombies, vampires, cannibals... take your pick. The Stand, I Am Legend, The Road, Cell... the list could be extended endlessly. In fact, unless in the hands of a skilled author, it can very well become cliche.

While reading this book by John Wyndham, I had to keep in mind that this genre was still relatively new in 1951. Instead of rehashing a tired trope, he was exploring an exciting new genre. So most of the predictability and relative monotonousness of the narrative could be forgiven:otherwise it would have ended up with a star less.

The story is narrated in the first person by Bill Masen, a young biologist in charge of growing triffids, a new species developed by Soviet Russia under great secrecy which later spread all over the world while a plane carrying a box of stolen seeds was shot down. The triffids are a semi-sentient species which can actually walk and lethally attack humans using a poisonous tentacle: however, since their extracts are superior to normal fish and vegetable oils, they are cultivated under controlled conditions.

As the story begins, Masen is in the hospital recovering from a triffid attack on his eyes. This proves to be a blessing in disguise as during his one week of blindness, a meteor shower has left almost all the people who watched it, blind! Soon, Masen is wandering around a London populated by a mass of groping blind people, and a handful of sighted ones who react to the situation in different ways. As civilisation slowly crumbles, he and a handful of similarly sane and reasonable individuals must ensure the continuance of humanity. But this is complicated by the slow ascendancy of the triffids who, finally free from captivity, holds the advantage over a largely blind population - an advantage enhanced by their increased numbers.


This story was written at the height of the Cold War: when the Westerner lived in fear of "The Other", the communist, who was ready to overturn his comfortable world at the drop of a hat and turn it into a socialist hell. (Now the communist has been replaced by the Muslim.) Moreover, this demon was invisible: it could be hidden under the skin of your neighbour, your colleague, even your wife or progeny. Also, there was always the danger of a lethal war, much more terrible than the previous two, where the survival of humanity was not an option. (At least this has not changed, with man-children in the guise of national leaders boasting about the size of their nuclear buttons.) Both these fears can be seen etched into all of post-apocalyptic fiction of that era, and The Day of the Triffids is no different.

Here, biological warfare is contemplated as one of the possible reasons for the development of the triffid. And the rise of the triffids is a terrifying warning about technology gone mad, as well as a reminder that those downtrodden creatures seen as harmless slaves and even commodity can suddenly rise up against the haves of society. However, I feel that the book was not written with an aim to terrify - rather, Wyndham wanted to explore how society would evolve after such a double whammy.

The author has done a great job with the creation of the triffid. But in his effort to describe the evolution of his post-apocalyptic society, I feel that Wyndham did not develop further on this enchanting bit of SF biology. The triffid remains just a boogeyman, located outside one's compound fence, ready to lash out at anyone who is foolish to come within striking range. This plant had fantastic possibilities in the realm of SF - alas, unrealised now.

The shifting of the human debris of the apocalypse across a deserted English landscape is fascinating. But here again, the human dynamics is largely ignored in favour of Masen's search for his lady love. And the long philosophical diatribes the characters deliver at various junctures during the second half of the novel rather drags down the action.

Still, an enjoyable, quick read for SF lovers.
Profile Image for Becky.
1,339 reviews1,629 followers
March 31, 2019
So I have had this book on my list to read for over a decade, and so it's such a disappointment that I'm DNFing it after only reading about a quarter of the story. But... here's the thing. There are some stories that can endure forever, and though they age, they don't feel dated, they feel nostalgic, and charming. For me, this is not one of them. This book is only 9 years older than my dad, but it feels MUCH older. And in addition, it's got this casual sexism that really bothered me, especially considering my recent reads and the fact that they've all shared this trait.

Maybe it's bad timing, or maybe I'm being unfair (no I'm not), but in the course of about a chapter's worth of pages, there have been multiple sexist situations that stunned me and took me right out of the story, and I'm just not OK with this.

For instance, the day that most everyone is struck blind, our main character (not calling him a hero) makes his way into Piccadilly Circus, and there he encounters a gang of blind men led by a sighted man. As they do, they are all clamoring for women, and so Mr. Seeing-Eye-Leader snatches up a poor blind girl in the wrong place at the wrong time and throws her to his wolves. Here ya go!

"OK", I think. "That's not surprising." The main character is like "Whoa, not cool!" initially, and I'm like "Yes, continue," and he begins to intervene, but then gets his ass rapidly handed to him, and then there's this: "It did not occur to me that if there was to be any survival, anyone adopted by this gang would stand a far better chance than she would on her own."

I'm sorry, fucking WHAT?

First of all, being kidnapped and passed around to be raped by a gang of scummy dudes is not "adoption". It's kidnapping, sexual assault, and fucking slavery. Secondly, for this main character to imply that she should be GRATEFUL that they've increased her survival odds by forcing her into said sexual slavery... Well you just can fuck all the way off with that noise, and when you get back to your starting position, go again. To me, the main character dropped down from "regular guy" status to "fuck off and die, scumbag" status with that one sentence.

BUT WAIT! It gets worse. Because, he goes on to think about what would have happened had he actually won his fight with the Seeing-Eye-Leader, and how he would have had to assume responsibility for the gang of men. Because... apparently THEIR well-being is far more concerning to him than the fact that these men are opportunistic kidnappers and rapists. "After all, and whatever one might feel about his methods, he was the eyes of that party, and they'd be looking to him for food as well as for drink. And the women would go along too, on their own account as soon as they got hungry enough. And now I came to look around me, I felt doubtful whether any of the women hereabouts would seriously mind anyway. What with one thing and another, it looks as if I might have had a lucky escape from promotion to gang leadership."

I just... There aren't even words for how fucking idiotic and misogynistic and depraved that attitude is.

But, lest you think he's just a douchebag with no redeeming qualities, he rescues a woman from a blind man who has tied her up and is beating her with a metal rod just a few pages later. Yet, while fighting the man who has tied her up, he's very careful not to hurt him too badly. "I slapped him on the side of his head, just hard enough to stop him and make his head sing for a bit - somehow I could not bring myself to lay out a blind man, even this type."

Cool. So, blind woman abducted by a gang that is likely to repeatedly rape her, at the very least, is A-OK, but punching a blind man who has a woman tied up and is beating her with a metal rod is a No-no.


He does end up freeing the woman, who soon after discovers that her entire household is dead, and our OH-SO-CHIVALROUS main character condescends to allow her to grieve for them in his presence, while he has a cigarette and thinks his man thoughts about their next move.

ANNNNND that's when I decided that I don't fucking care what this story might be about, I don't care what happens. I can't stand this main character, and I don't want to read any more of his casual sexism. All of these examples are from the 20-26% range of the ebook.

Now, don't get me wrong... I get that the bad-guys' actions are realistic. OF COURSE in the breakdown of a society there will be men (and women) who take advantage and exploit and hurt and steal and rape and kill. I get that. What I'm not OK with is the main character who apparently sees much more inherent value and worth in the men perpetrating these acts than the women victims. And yet, supposedly he's a gentleman who hasn't QUITE come to terms with the fact that society as he knew it is no more, and he will need to "break the rules" to survive as well. He balks at breaking a window to take food, but is totally fine with a gang of men taking a woman by force to do with her whatever they fucking want.

And that... is shit. He's no better. And therefore I'm not interested in reading any more of his perspective. I could not care less.

Also there were Triffids... They were my favorite characters in the book. At least they attacked everyone equally, man or woman.

That is all.
Profile Image for Algernon (Darth Anyan).
1,494 reviews962 followers
May 16, 2013

I didn't plan ahead, but in a funny (or disturbing) coincidence, I've read this book on the fated day when the world ended, May 8 according to John Wyndham : When a day that you happen to know is Wednesday starts off by sounding like Sunday, there is something seriously wrong somewhere. The opening chapter is one of the best in the genre, with protagonist Bill Masen waking up in a hospital and trying to understand what is wrong with the world around him without relying on his bandaged eyes. It soon becomes apparent that everybody has been blinded by green meteorites from space, and his injury has actually saved him from a similar fate. Realizing that this plague is insufficient for his purposes of utterly destroying civilization, the author deploys a second doomsday device, in the form of bioengineered, intelligent, carnivorous plants capable of using their roots as legs and preying now on the helpless humanity. Being written in 1951, the book is a bit sketchy on actual scientific theories for the two events, and explains the first as the result of the arms race extending into space and the second as communist irresponsibility in biological research. The triffids and the cosmic rays are not the main focus of the novel, they are just the useful devices that set up the subsequent scenes for the study of the social and moral implications of survival in an extremely hostile environment, one where Man is no longer at the top of the food chain:

You know, one of the most shocking things about it is to realize how easily we have lost a world that seemed so safe and certain. [...] Looking back at the shape of things then, the amount we did not know and did not cared to know about our daily lives is not only astonishing but somehow a bit shocking. I knew practically nothing, for instance, of such ordinary things as how my food reached me, where the fresh water came from, how the clothes I wore were woven and made, how the drainage of cities kept them healthy. Our life had become a complexity of specialists, all attending to their own jobs with more or less efficiency and expecting others to do the same.

This point of taking for granted the benefits of the industrial revolution is one of the aspects that is as valid today as in 1951, and one of the main reasons I consider the book still relevant. Some other details are painfully still a going concern today, it actually makes me despair of the whole concept of progress and of learning from past mistakes. Leaving aside bio-weapon research (such as toying with the flu-virus) , here's an observation about the short attention span of the modern generation:

There was a current theory among cutters that more than a few seconds of any one news subject - except a boxing match - could not fail to paralize an audience with boredom. My first view, therefore, of a development which was to play such an important part in my future, as well as in so many other peoples, was a glimpse sandwiched between a hula contest in Honolulu and the First Lady launching a battleship.

So what makes The Day of the Triffids a genre milestone and a source of inspiration for many later writers? I believe it is the choice to delve less on the action / adventure aspects of the story ( what I call the fireworks and the popcorn special effects of blockbusters) and to explore instead the human condition as a whole. The book may not be as spectacular as Justin Cronin's Passage , but it compensates by interesting debates on: the use of violence against the weak, the relevance of social conventions and religion in dealing with the altered circumstances, the survival of the individual against the survival of the species, the merits of different forms of governments in protecting their members against outside violence, the need for long term planning of the future instead of scavenging in the ruins of the past.

Others have remarked on the similarities in style to the work of H G Wells, and point out that the prose and the characterization are not really up to modern standards, but I find nothing wrong with the ideas at the center of the novel, and comparisons to the likes of War of the Worlds , The Time Machine or The Island of Dr. Moreau serve more to confirm the classic status of this enduring tale.
Profile Image for Stephen.
1,516 reviews11k followers
July 10, 2010
4.0 stars. I am very glad that I finally got around to reading this classic post-apocalyptic novel. I really liked Wyndham's writing style and the way he presented the story. It was well written, well plotted and kept me interested throughout the book. As with most really good post-apocalyptic science fiction novels, the true point of the story is the exploration of human nature by showing how different people act when the society they have grown up in falls apart. Recommended!!!
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