The Day of the Triffids

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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 ...

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Overview

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 posed 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.

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Editorial Reviews

Gale Research
John Wyndham Parkes Lucas Beynon Harris is probably best known for Day of the Triffids, his novel in which the human race, blinded during a meteor shower, is threatened by carnivorous plants. A reviewer for the Times Literary Supplement wrote, "The language is excellent, and the description of London filled with the groping blind . . . has all the qualities of a vividly-realized nightmare."
Publishers Weekly
Short and sweet and to the point, the seven stories in this promising debut collection exuberantly explore the relationships that make life bearable. In a rueful examination of brother/sister love, "The Language Event," set at the Indy 500, manages to be rowdy and exquisitely wistful at the same time. Moore strikes another significant chord in "Big Pink and Little Minkie," conjuring magic by exploring the tenuous but often poignant truths to be gleaned from the mundane commuter experience. She hits the ball out of the park with the near novella-length "A History of Pandas," a flawless exercise in characterization. This sharp portrayal of sisterhood sings, as the narrator, called Sweet Pea, examines the root of her boundless adoration of her sibling Lydia, a preschool teacher whose early widowhood has forged a bond between the two that time can not diminish. In "Rembrandt's Bones," a professor of art history deals with two simultaneous deaths a student's suicide and the natural death of sugar-loving Opal, a childhood mentor who taught her to love words and always to appreciate the unexpected. Revealing a spiritual kinship with Lewis Nordan, Moore writes matter-of-fact yet outlandish sentences that read like tiny novels "Opal's Cousin Alma was married to my second cousin J.W. and when J.W. died, Alma showed up at the funeral with a lady-pink pistol and shot him five times in his open coffin before they could get the gun away from her. They couldn't figure out what to charge her with." Although all of the female narrators speak with nearly the same wry and self-aware voice, readers will enjoy this buoyant collection. Agent, Noah Lukeman. (Sept.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
From the Publisher
"A thoroughly English apocalypse, it rivals H. G. Wells in conveying how the everyday invaded by the alien would feel. No wonder Stephen King admires Wyndham so much."
—RAMSEY CAMPBELL

"John Wyndham's The Day of the Triffids is one of my all-time favorite novels. It's absolutely convincing, full of little telling details, and that sweet, warm sensation of horror and mystery."
—JOE R. LANSDALE

"My son's middle name is Wyndham. Does that tell you how much I respect and revere the late John Wyndham? And The Day of the Triffids is the best of them all. He was a wonderful writer who was able to reinvigorate science fiction with spectacle and true thrills, and do so with a writing voice that created both suspense and elegance. A true master."
—ED GORMAN

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345328175
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 12/12/1985
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 4.23 (w) x 6.90 (h) x 0.56 (d)

Meet the Author

John Wyndham (1903–1969) was a successful English author who wrote novels and short stories from the 1950s to the ’70s, focusing on science fiction and creating many classics still popular today, including Out of the Deep.

Edmund Morris won a Pulitzer Prize for The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, the first in a trilogy, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for the sequel, Theodore Rex, both available as Modern Library Paperbacks. He lives in New York.

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Read an Excerpt

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.

Author Biography: John Wyndham (1903–1969) was a successful English author who wrote novels and short stories from the 1950s to the ’70s, focusing on science fiction and creating many classics still popular today, including Out of the Deep.
Edmund Morris won a Pulitzer Prize for The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, the first in a trilogy, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for the sequel, Theodore Rex, both available as Modern Library Paperbacks. He lives in New York.

Read More Show Less

Reading Group Guide

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.

1. Some critics of The Day of the Triffids believe the novel is devoid of ideas and was written merely to please a destruction-hungry audience. However, there are many instances in the novel where morale, literature, and law and order are discussed and debated. Do you think this is a technique to simply further the action of the story or was Wyndham inserting political views?

2. Bill and Josella encounter a handful of new societies in their apocalyptic world. What are the socialtheories behind each? Why did they fail or succeed? If they did fail, could anything have been done to help the societies succeed? If any of these societies were formed in the present day, would they survive?

3. Which society would you yourself join and why?

4. Bill witnesses many suicides without interfering, and even helps three people kill themselves, actions that in the 1950s were against the law. How can he, from his own accounts a decent, law-abiding citizen, move so easily into depravity? Why, after we witness this depravity, do we still sympathize with him? Is Wyndham commenting on his country's laws and culture?

5. The Day of the Triffids's main characters are all decidedly bourgeois, as are the casts of many other sci-fi novels. How does this affect the themes and action of the story?

6. Do you appreciate the love story between Bill and Josella? Did Wyndham intend it to play a role in the action or was he simply inserting some human interest into the plot?

7. The literary theory Marxism states a piece of literature cannot be critiqued without studying the politics, economics, and culture of the time period it was written in. Hence, no text is universal or forever timely. Do you agree with this theory? Is The Day of the Triffids universal or timely? If yes, is this inherent in the actual text or our present-day culture?

8. Some critics feel Wyndham's ultimate message is one of doom; humans are forced to live on a small island with no relief or chance for re-populating the earth. Other critics feel Wyndham meant his book to be hopeful; society's ills, including those which produced the triffids and mass-destruction weapons, are wiped out and society can start afresh. What view do you hold?

9. Many critics have compared Wyndham to H.G. Wells, who was actually one of Wyndham's favorite writers. Do you consider the two writers on the same level, both in their imagination and their writing talents?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 11 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 20, 2010

    Make sure you have your Mask and Flame Thrower Ready!

    This book was finished in record time for me. I read it in three days, which a book of this size would be a week. I like to take my time and absorb the book, but this just grabbed and and ran away!

    The plot is very unqiue and very life like, if large man eating plants can be life like. I don't know what training Wyndham had, but he got the human condition spot on. I ws kind of surprised that the Triffids did not have such a more pronounced roll in most of the book. Only in the beginning and end of the book, but it was just enough to keep you going on.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    This book changed everything for me

    After reading this book as a teenager it changed how I viewed the entire world. It made me realize all the things I took for granted and all the things that someday I/we may have to do with out. It made me wonder just how we would evolve regardless of what caused the changes. John Wyndham was a genius! Read anything you can get your hands on by him.

    Personally, I think of this book every single time I look at my sunflowers!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2000

    Way better than Stephen King!

    Day of the Triffids captures your imagination without all the ridiculous sex and violence so prevalent in todays literature. Appropriate for ages 10 and up.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2014

    Wonderful book ( 5 stars.) I wanted to reread it after a 20 year

    Wonderful book ( 5 stars.) I wanted to reread it after a 20 year gap.  But no nook version!  (- 2 stars)

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 2, 2012

    Fantastic!

    The only thing more amazing than this book is the fact that it was written so long ago. The author must have been able to see into our Monsanto future. Creepy! A must read for sure.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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    Posted March 24, 2009

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    Posted October 15, 2009

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    Posted April 21, 2012

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    Posted September 17, 2009

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    Posted October 25, 2008

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    Posted May 13, 2009

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