Day of the Triffids, The by John Wyndham

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Book Information  
AuthorJohn Wyndham
TitleDay of the Triffids, The
GenreScience Fiction
Book Reviews / Comments (submitted by readers)
Submitted by Anonymous 
(Mar 09, 2009)

The day of the triffids starts off as Bill Masen has his eyes bandaged due to a work accident wakes up in hospital to an eerie silence, no nurses, no doctors or no breakfast. He gets impatient and removes his bandages to find everyone else in the town is blind! Actually most of the world is blind due to the previous nights fascinating green shooting stars (broken pieces of comet entering the earth’s atmosphere). Bill finds a woman (Josella) who can also see and they both join a group of people that escaped blindness as well. London is crumbling down and the blind are no match for the triffids deadly poison. These group of people have to make a new way of life completly to survive and keep the human race going. GREAT BOOK! Just a bit short.

Submitted by arthurfrayn 
(Sep 12, 2007)

Whydham's first person narrative is very effective, with plenty of good descriptive writing. The events that lead up to blinding of the world are well handled. Once we get into character interaction, the novel runs into a bit of trouble. His dialogue in general, is awkward, and his discussion of sexual politics is exceptionally so. It lacks the lunatic goofiness of a VanVogt , when he stumbles through this kind of material like a blind elephant ,so it doesn't even have a camp appeal to wash it down. Still,considering the other strengths of the novel, it's a weakness I'm willing to forgive. On a side note: I imagined Josella as Joan Greenwood from those old Ealing Studios movies like "Man in the White Suit".
There's a surreal quality to this end-of-the-world scenario-it doesn't exactly feel real in spots, and in others it's altogether convincing, much in the same way as PKDick completely side steps the typical end-of-the-world radioactive aftermath in his book, Dr Bloodmoney, and yet his story of day to day life, feels compelling and convincing.
Triffids is definitely a cold war book -a mythic, purging nightmare combining the trauma of the devastation of London in WW2, the threat of Russian Communist takeover, and the arrival of the satellite age. I especially noted his pointed message that "you can't depend on the US for what's ahead".
The book is a little short. I got about 3 quarters of the way through and said to myself : where are the triffids? Finally, when they start to make a difference, it makes perfect sense, and that last part of the book was the most terse reading for me. Still, it could have at been another hundred pages longer at least. I'm tempted to speculate that this is a stretched short story-the last third being the original story. Loved the ending-oddly moving.

3 1/2,maybe 4 stars for this one.
A neat little read-it's an important genre novel, and obviously highly influential. There are many memorable little bits, such as his final visit to London. Steven King's The Stand, and George Romero's Living Dead movies are obviously influenced by the novel, to the degree where you could sit with a pad and pencil and do a point by point comparative analysis.

Submitted by Archren 
(Feb 17, 2006)

The British know how to handle apocalypses. They go about their business quite sensibly, all told, and that is one of the reasons that I enjoyed “Day of the Triffids” quite a bit. One day the world wakes up, and almost everyone who was up the night before has gone blind. Only those lucky few who happened to be shut away somewhere come out sighted. Civilization of course, promptly collapses. Our hero and heroine meet each other wandering around London, learning how to escape from the clutches of blind people hoping for salvation. There are more threats, of course, than simply our own demons. The formerly castrated triffids, ambulatory plants with a nasty sting, have never needed sight to be effective…

Over the course of the book, several different coping methods for the post-apocalypse are proposed, and most of them are disposed with. Wyndham come down firmly in the stiff-upper lip, adjust to present realities, no need for antiquated moralism or hysterics, thank-you-very-much. It all captures the spirit of post-WWII Britain amazingly well.

The books does contain many of the scenes that allowed it to be adapted as a silly horror movies decades ago, but they are sensibly spread out over years, not days. Generally speaking, Wyndham’s extrapolation of his basic plot elements is solid and sensible. The science may not hold up perfectly, and of course the most advanced technology he describes is the helicopter, it’s not fundamentally different from what one might write today from the same premise. My only fundamental doubt is if a civilization in which 99.99% of everyone went blind would really collapse quite that quickly. But a lot of things go wrong all at once for the poor human race, and so we follow the few survivors with a sense of real accomplishment for having overcome so many tribulations.

It’s a quick read and an enjoyable one, hitting many of the highlights of the post-apocalypse sub-genre. I’d especially recommend it for younger readers in the same way one points them at Wells, Verne & Asimov. The characterization is purely secondary, but that’s not really important. It’s a good classic story, well told.

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