The Day of the Triffids

The Day of the Triffids

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Overview

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780812967128
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/01/2003
Series: 20th Century Rediscoveries
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 114,226
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.99(h) x 0.58(d)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About 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.

Read an Excerpt

The End Begins

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

I felt that from the moment I woke. And yet, when I started functioning a little more smartly, I became doubtful. After all, the odds were that it was I who was wrong, and not everyone else—though I did not see how that could be. I went on waiting, tinged with doubt. But presently I had my first bit of objective evidence—a distant clock struck what sounded to me just like eight. I listened hard and suspiciously. Soon another clock began, on a hard, decisive note. In a leisurely fashion it gave an indisputable eight. Then I knew things were awry.

The way I came to miss the end of the world—well, the end of the world I had known for close on thirty years—was sheer accident: like a lot of survival, when you come to think of it. In the nature of things a good many somebodies are always in hospital, and the law of averages had picked on me to be one of them a week or so before. It might just as easily have been the week before that—in which case I’d not be writing now: I’d not be here at all. But chance played it not only that I should be in hospital at that particular time, but that my eyes, and indeed my whole head, should be wreathed in bandages—and that’s why I have to be grateful to whoever orders these averages. At the time, however, I was only peevish, wondering what in thunder went on, for I had been in the place long enough to know that, next to the matron, the clock is the most sacred thing in a hospital.

Without a clock the place simply couldn’t work. Each second there’s someone consulting it on births, deaths, doses, meals, lights, talking, working, sleeping, resting, visiting, dressing, washing—and hitherto it had decreed that someone should begin to wash and tidy me up at exactly three minutes after 7 a.m. That was one of the best reasons I had for appreciating a private room. In a public ward the messy proceeding would have taken place a whole unnecessary hour earlier. But here, today, clocks of varying reliability were continuing to strike eight in all directions—and still nobody had shown up.

Much as I disliked the sponging process, and useless as it had been to suggest that the help of a guiding hand as far as the bathroom could eliminate it, its failure to occur was highly disconcerting. Besides, it was normally a close forerunner of breakfast, and I was feeling hungry.

Probably I would have been aggrieved about it any morning, but today, this Wednesday, May 8, was an occasion of particular personal importance. I was doubly anxious to get all the fuss and routine over because this was the day they were going to take off my bandages.

I groped around a bit to find the bell push and let them have a full five seconds’ clatter, just to show what I was thinking of them.

While I was waiting for the pretty short-tempered response that such a peal ought to bring, I went on listening.

The day outside, I realized now, was sounding even more wrong than I had thought. The noises it made, or failed to make, were more like Sunday than Sunday itself—and I’d come round again to being absolutely assured that it was Wednesday, whatever else had happened to it.

Why the founders of St. Merryn’s Hospital chose to erect their institution at a main-road crossing upon a valuable office site, and thus expose their patients’ nerves to constant laceration, is a foible that I never properly understood. But for those fortunate enough to be suffering from complaints unaffected by the wear and tear of continuous traffic, it did have the advantage that one could lie abed and still not be out of touch, so to speak, with the flow of life. Customarily the west-bound busses thundered along trying to beat the lights at the corner; as often as not a pig-squeal of brakes and a salvo of shots from the silencer would tell that they hadn’t. Then the released cross traffic would rev and roar as it started up the incline. And every now and then there would be an interlude: a good grinding bump, followed by a general stoppage—exceedingly tantalizing to one in my condition, where the extent of the contretemps had to be judged entirely by the degree of profanity resulting. Certainly, neither by day nor during most of the night, was there any chance of a St. Merryn patient being under the impression that the common round had stopped just because he, personally, was on the shelf for the moment.

But this morning was different. Disturbingly, because mysteriously, different. No wheels rumbled, no busses roared, no sound of a car of any kind, in fact, was to be heard; no brakes, no horns, not even the clopping of the few rare horses that still occasionally passed; nor, as there should be at such an hour, the composite tramp of work-bound feet.

The more I listened, the queerer it seemed—and the less I cared for it. In what I reckoned to be ten minutes of careful listening I heard five sets of shuffling, hesitating footsteps, three voices bawling unintelligibly in the distance, and the hysterical sobs of a woman. There was not the cooing of a pigeon, not the chirp of a sparrow. Nothing but the humming of wires in the wind. . . .

A nasty, empty feeling began to crawl up inside me. It was the same sensation I used to have sometimes as a child when I got to fancying that horrors were lurking in the shadowy corners of the bedroom; when I daren’t put a foot out for fear that something should reach from under the bed and grab my ankle; daren’t even reach for the switch lest the movement should cause something to leap at me. I had to fight down the feeling, just as I had had to when I was a kid in the dark. And it was no easier. It’s surprising how much you don’t grow out of when it comes to the test. The elemental fears were still marching along with me, waiting their chance, and pretty nearly getting it—just because my eyes were bandaged and the traffic had stopped. . . .

When I had pulled myself together a bit, I tried the reasonable approach. Why does traffic stop? Well, usually because the road is closed for repairs. Perfectly simple. Any time now they’d be along with pneumatic drills as another touch of aural variety for the long-suffering patients. But the trouble with the reasonable line was that it went further. It pointed out that there was not even the distant hum of traffic, not the whistle of a train, not the hoot of a tugboat. Just nothing—until the clocks began chiming a quarter past eight.

The temptation to take a peep—not more than a peep, of course; just enough to get some idea of what on earth could be happening—was immense. But I restrained it. For one thing, a peep was a far less simple matter than it sounded. It wasn’t just a case of lifting a blindfold: there were a lot of pads and bandages. But, more important, I was scared to try. Over a week’s complete blindness can do a lot to frighten you out of taking chances with your sight. It was true that they intended to remove the bandages today, but that would be done in a special dim light, and they would allow them to stay off only if the inspection of my eyes were satisfactory. I did not know whether it would be. It might be that my sight was permanently impaired. Or that I would not be able to see at all. I did not know yet. . . .

I swore and laid hold of the bell push again. It helped to relieve my feelings a bit.

No one, it seemed, was interested in bells. I began to get as much sore as worried. It’s humiliating to be dependent, anyway, but it’s a still poorer pass to have no one to depend on. My patience was whittling down. Something, I decided, had got to be done about it.

If I were to bawl down the passage and generally raise hell, somebody ought to show up if only to tell me what they thought of me. I turned back the sheet and got out of bed. I’d never seen the room I was in, and though I had a fairly good idea by ear of the position of the door, it wasn’t all that easy to find. There seemed to be several puzzling and unnecessary obstacles, but I got across at the cost of a stubbed toe and minor damage to my shin. I shoved out into the passage.

“Hey!” I shouted. “I want some breakfast. Room forty-eight!”

For a moment nothing happened. Then came voices all shouting together. It sounded like hundreds of them, and not a word com- ing through clearly. It was as though I’d put on a record of crowd noises—and an ill-disposed crowd, at that. I had a nightmarish flash, wondering whether I had been transferred to a mental home while I was sleeping and that this was not St. Merryn’s Hospital at all. The sound of those voices simply didn’t sound normal to me. I closed the door hurriedly on the babel and groped my way back to bed. At that moment bed seemed to be the one safe, comforting thing in my whole baffling environment. As if to underline that, there came a sound which checked me in the act of pulling up the sheets. From the street below rose a scream, wildly distraught and contagiously terrifying. It came three times, and when it had died away it seemed still to tingle in the air.

I shuddered. I could feel the sweat prickle my forehead under the bandages. I knew now that something fearful and horrible was happening. I could not stand my isolation and helplessness any longer. I had to know what was going on around me. My hands went up to my bandages; then, with my fingers on the safety pins, I stopped. . . .

Suppose the treatment had not been successful? Suppose that when I took the bandages off I were to find that I still could not see? That would be worse still—a hundred times worse. . . .

I lacked the courage to be alone and find out that they had not saved my sight. And even if they had, would it be safe yet to keep my eyes uncovered?

I dropped my hands and lay back. I was mad at myself and the place, and I did some silly, weak cursing.

Some little while must have passed before I got a proper hold on things again, but after a bit I found myself churning round in my mind once more after a possible explanation. I did not find it. But I did become absolutely convinced that, come all the paradoxes of hell, it was Wednesday. For the previous day had been notable, and I could swear that no more than a single night had passed since then.

You’ll find it in the records that on Tuesday, May 7, the Earth’s orbit passed through a cloud of comet debris. You can even believe it, if you like—millions did. Maybe it was so. I can’t prove anything either way. I was in no state to see what happened myself; but I do have my own ideas. All that I actually know of the occasion is that I had to spend the evening in my bed listening to eyewitness accounts of what was constantly claimed to be the most remarkable celestial spectacle on record.

And yet, until the thing actually began, nobody had ever heard a word about this supposed comet, or its debris. . . .

Why they broadcast it, considering that everyone who could walk, hobble, or be carried was either out of doors or at windows enjoying the greatest free firework display ever, I don’t know. But they did, and it helped to impress on me still more heavily what it meant to be sightless. I got around to feeling that if the treatment had not been successful I’d rather end the whole thing than go on that way.

It was reported in the news bulletins during the day that mysterious bright green flashes had been seen in the Californian skies the previous night. However, such a lot of things did happen in California that no one could be expected to get greatly worked up over that, but as further reports came in, this comet-debris motif made its appearance, and it stuck.

Accounts arrived from all over the Pacific of a night made brilliant by green meteors said to be “sometimes in such numerous showers that the whole sky appeared to be wheeling about us.” And so it was, when you come to think of it.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 The End Begins,
Chapter 2 The Coming of the Triffids,
Chapter 3 The Groping City,
Chapter 4 Shadows Before,
Chapter 5 A Light in the Night,
Chapter 6 Rendezvous,
Chapter 7 Conference,
Chapter 8 Frustration,
Chapter 9 Evacuation,
Chapter 10 Tynsham,
Chapter 11-And Farther On,
Chapter 12 Dead End,
Chapter 13 Journey In Hope,
Chapter 14 Shirning,
Chapter 15 World Narrowing,
Chapter 16 Contact,
Chapter 17 Strategic Withdrawal,

What People are Saying About This

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

Reading Group Guide

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 social theories 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?

Customer Reviews

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The Day of the Triffids 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 38 reviews.
Ashburysgr More than 1 year ago
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.
Madam_Fynswyn More than 1 year ago
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!
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
dandelionroots on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Something blinds all but a few. Walking plants, called triffids, begin to inherit the earth. Amazing how he portrays the moral dilemmas and human nature facets that would dominate the situation. As always, humanity disappoints in some regards and is logical in others. It's awesome.
andreablythe on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of the reasons I enjoy reading post-apoc books is the aspect of how one survives in a world that has fallen apart. Triffids provided this and more. The book follows a John, a man fortunate to miss out on a great cosmic display of lights due to an injury and thus in one of the rare few who does not go blind. This is the primary disaster, which is quickly followed by the threat of the triffids, over-grown genetically modified walking (yes, you read that right, walking) plants cultivated for economic reasons. John wades through the disaster and meets various groups surviving in its wake along the way.What makes this book more than just a story about the apocalypse is the philosophical bent throughout, as the characters not only survive, but choose how to shape their own survival in a way they can live with. How much should you sacrifice to save others, if you can? Is it better to focus on saving as many people as possible, or only the few who are truly valuable? How do you cultivate hope for the future when there seems to be none? What shape should a new formed society take after a disaster of such epic proportions? What myths do we tell the children who grow up after?Though the triffids at first glance seem ridiculous, exaggerated, Wyndham puts just enough science into their back story to make them probable in society focused on economic gain, and though the date of the book means that some of the portrayals of women are a bit antiquated, Triffids overall is a fascinating and entertaining read.
sturlington on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Note: There are some spoilers in this review.I've seen this apocalyptic novel referred to as a "cozy catastrophe." It's easy to see why the term cozy would be applied to it. For a large part of the book, the main characters hunker down in an English farmhouse in the lush countryside. The only thing that spoils their pastoral post-apocalyptic life are the hordes of Triffids -- giant, carnivorous, locomotive plants with deadly stingers whose origins are unknown but appear to have been genetically engineered -- besieging the gates. But while the Triffids are more numerous than the surviving humans, they are not more clever, and they can be kept at bay with diligence. By today's standards for apocalyptic fiction, this story does seem quaint. Violence and death are present, but kept at arm's length. Still, I think The Day of the Triffids is far too unsettling to qualify as "cozy"; it's just more subtle that what we're used to.I remember how shocked I was when I read this for the first time many years ago, and realized that even before the Triffids lurched on the scene, everyone in the world goes blind as the result of watching a peculiar green meteor shower. This is the real catastrophe that destroys civilization and gives the Triffids the upper hand (so to speak). All of our advances and progress as a species are wiped out literally overnight by such a simple thing. This is not the only apocalyptic book to explore blindness as a catalyzing event, but it was the first one that I read. It wasn't that the idea was so terrifying, but that it was so isolating. Even the few remaining sighted are cut off because they can't reveal their ability to see for fear of being conscripted by the blind.Bill Masen is in the hospital, eyes bandaged from a recent Triffid attack (he works with them), when the calamity occurs. The first few chapters, when he realizes the extent of what has happened and then wanders through an eerily quiet London observing small but heartbreaking scenes of the newly blind, are bleak and disquieting. The overwhelming feeling of The Day of the Triffids is not terror or coziness, but resignation and a gloomy sense of loss. Also regret, as the characters come to realize that humankind must be responsible for what has happened to them.The Triffids are never a truly terrifying threat, as zombies might have been (although they resemble zombies in many ways). They just are able to multiply and relentlessly besiege the survivors. It doesn't seem cozy to imagine how tiring it must be, always keeping your guard up against millions of persistent plants. And the novel offers no satisfying resolution (unlike the movie), only a determination by the characters to take their world back. We don't know if they will succeed.
amanderson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was a pretty great apocalyptic classic sci fi novel. Amazing that I never read it before. It's a straightforward fast moving story, with a capable hero who happens to be a bit erudite which is a nice change in apocalyptic protagonists if you ask me. The world ends (for most) with an amazingly spectacular meteor shower that almost all of humanity watches. Sadly, the green flares of the spectacle burn out nearly everyone's optic nerve and blinds them soon after. Our hero, Bill Masen, is one of the lucky few who retains his sight, because he was thoroughly bandaged while healing from eye injuries and so missed the meteor display. Probably the world might have muddled along even with blindness, after much turmoil and fighting over resources and breakdown of civilized behavior, except for. . . the triffids! Not aliens bent on destroying humanity, no, actually they're just another human science project gone awry. They are carnivorous bioengineered plants spread all across the earth which can "walk" and stalk and kill humans and other animals with venomous whip-like stinger. Bill & his fellows must find a way to survive & recreate society if they can. The horror themes of this novel are rather timeless - you have your technologically caused catastrophe in the form of the meteor showers, which seem to have something to do with satellites, plus a bioengineered disaster - plants gone terribly wrong, and yet they seemed so useful, what with their valuable oil and some simple management practices! Unless you can't see them because you are blind. Oops.
ngabriel on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This fabulously readable little novel is a compelling mix of action and ideas. I had no idea where the plot was going to go next which kept things exciting. A wonderful book for a book club to read since there is so much to discuss. My favorite part of the book is in the creppy beginning where the main character (who is blind at this point) talks about how he knows it's Wednesday but the world outside his window is quiet like a Sunday...
lmichet on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm on a Post-Apocalyptic Fiction kick right now, and I got through this one in a single day-- stayed glued to it until I finished it at two in the morning. So yeah, it's pretty excellent. Most excellent, I think, is that it's so readable. This is the book that started the whole sci-fi-horror-apocalypse genre-- the genre where mankind dies at its own hands, not at the end of a space-laser muzzle-- and I can understand why. This is the kind of book which seems like it could spawn a load of imitators. It's clear, compelling, and deeper than it seems.Why deeper? Let's examine. First of all there the whole bio-warfare hubris-of-the-humans angle. Secondly, there's an ecological angle-- what are we doing to this world, and what would the world be like without us? The book is particularly chilling in this regard-- London five years after we leave, for example, frightens the characters so badly that it grips us, too. Then there is, surprisingly enough, a fairly intense class angle here. Wyndham shows us three escape teams in London: the upper- or upper-middle-class escape team, operating out of a university and dragging along a professor of sociology, plotting scientifically for the replenishing of the race; the lower-class escape team, which insists that the government will be along to save them and which suffers the consequences of extreme ignorance; and, finally, bare gimpses of a military technique which is highly absurd and intensely cruel. His judgements on which class and way of life is best suited to save the world in an hour of apocalypse-- and the way in which he chooses to express those ideas-- are interesting indeed, and could do with some examination and criticism, probably. Also interesting are his observations on gender. The only angle, I think, relevant to our modern society that he actually leaves out is race. The England that suffers the triffids is a very homogenous one. If anyone is to write a modern post-apocalypse story, I'm sure that it would have to cover racial conflict and cultural desperation in order to be relevant. But none of that is here. At any rate, it was written in fifties.What is most surprising about this book-- about its language, the way it chooses to look at the situation-- is that it really does, however, seem totally modern. He was writing about a future-- a 1970s/1980s future or so, I believe, since the main character mentions that his father fought Hitler. Though the major concerns of this society-- food production-- are not our major concerns, the attitude in general still seems extremely modern and relevant. I don't know if this sense will persist throughout the coming decades, but I hope it does. This book could do a lot of people a dose of good-- a extremely interesting and well-written dose of good.
crazybatcow on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What a surprise! This is the first classic apocalyptic sci-fi that I've read that I'd actually call a good book - and I've read a lot of them (The Drowned World, The Plague, Alas Babylon, On the Beach, World Abides, etc).It was written in the 50's and yet it is as "modern" feeling as any post 1980s apocalyptic novel (well, other than the smoking part maybe). And, unlike Blindness by Saramago (which has a similar theme), this story is realistic in the depiction of human behavior. Sure, there will be violence; sure there will be death; but also there will be people who help others, and people will survive and people will be "human".Kudos to the author for stepping out of his era and writing a novel that was mostly free of sexism and cultural/ethnocentrism. Not that these topics weren't covered - they were - but they were treated with intelligence and an acknowledgment that these would all be issues to be addressed in a "new world order".
CBJames on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Tell me if this sounds familiar. A man wakes up from a coma in a hospital bed. He soon realizes that the hospital is deserted. He goes outside and finds that he is the only "survivor" of a disaster that has left the streets of London empty and quiet. He is pursued by thoughtless killers who want nothing but to do him in and eat him. He finds a handful of other survivors and tries to escape London and find somewhere safe. The band of survivors have to avoid a militaristic group bent on forcing everyone to join their new feudal like colony. Many of them die, but they make it to a remote farmhouse where they can remain until help arrives. To his credit, Alex Garland the screenwriter for 28 Days Later has stated that The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham inspired his script. Reading one and viewing the other is like seeing how two artist interpret the same basic story 50 years apart. If you liked one, there is a very good chance that you'll like the other. The set-up for The Day of the Triffids is extensive. The reader is given the back story in a series of flashbacks so it does not hinder the narrative much, but there is a lot to know before one can fully understand what is going on. Triffids, a new type of plant that may have been the result of Soviet biological experimentation, are accidentally released on the world when a large dose of their seeds is blown up. The seeds spread with the winds to all of the continents. The triffids produce an oil that is edible and highly useful so no one is concerned at first. After ten years, the plants reach maturity and begin to walk around. The have a sort of three legged root system that lets them move about like a man on crutches and enables them to hunt. They also have a ten foot long poisoned stinger capable of killing a man in a single dose. However fearful this may sound, the triffids are plants and can simply be cut, trimmed of their poisoned stingers, and safely kept within garden walls. Until a mysterious green comet appears and blinds everyone who looks at it. This is where the story opens--the hero and narrator, Bill Masen, wakes in a hospital bed and removes the bandages from his eyes which prevented him from looking at the comet and made him one of the very few sighted people left in London and the world.Bill Masen delivers all of this back story while he wonders around London looking for food and for other sighted people. Even with such complex flashbacks, the story never becomes boring. In fact, by the end of the book I was hoping the author would give the characters a break. Like many end of civilization novels, The Day of the Triffids becomes a way to examine possible societies. What would you want the world to be like if you could start over from scratch? Bill Masen joins a group that intends to start a new community to repopulate the world by abandoning the blind and marrying three women to each man. He is soon forced to join a different group that refuses to abandon the blind by chaining one sighted person as a guide to small groups of blind people. Next he encounters a group that insists on living like Christians in a sort of monastery, caring for the blind and farming the land. In the end, he finds temporary safety on an isolated farm with a small group of sighted and blind people. Meantime, the triffids are growing in number every day.If some of the particulars of The Day of the Triffids strike contemporary readers as far fetched, they are all handled so well that the result is an entertaining and believable thriller. Mr. Wyndham writes science fiction but he is concerned with character. So much so that the reader can identify with the people fighting blindness and carnivorous plants and is quickly drawn into the story. I'm not sure that The Day of the Triffids is better than Mr. Wyndham's novel The Chrysalids, but it certainly is more epic. While Chrysalids dealt with one community, one possible society of the future, Triffids deals with several possible societies
Gwendydd on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This may not be the most profound or brilliant book in the world, but it definitely deserves its classic status. The Earth travels through the tail of a comet, and suddenly everyone in the world is blind, except for a few who happen to have been in total darkness during the event. The world is thrown into chaos (although Wyndham doesn't give people much credit - I think people would manage a bit better than he does). Soon, diseases wipe out most people. The few survivors must figure out how to make a future for themselves in this new world, which is complicated by the presence of triffids, a strange carnivorous and seemingly intelligent plant that attacks and eats humans.In general, the story is well-written, engaging, suspenseful, and well-paced. There's nothing amazingly profound, but it's a good story. There's definitely a Cold War element: the atmosphere of paranoia, the lack of faith in humanity, the hope that the Americans will come save the day, the menace of satellites in the sky, and ultimately the suggestion that this disaster was brought about by humanity. Despite that, the story has aged well and will remain entertaining for a long time.I listened to the audiobook, and really enjoyed the narrator.
samfsmith on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a fun book. A little subdued by modern standards (first published in 1951), it has a lot in common with the work of H. G. Wells. Everybody knows the story: Everyone on earth goes blind after viewing the breakup of a comet in the night skies. Was it really a comet, or something man-made? Only a few lucky individuals escape with their sight intact.The collapse of human society gives the mysterious plants called the triffids an advantage. Where did the triffids come from? No one knows, but they are carnivorous, ambulatory, and sentient. Creepy stuff. The novel draws on the fright about global destruction in the fifties. But it is still relevant today, and a lot of fun to read.
michaeldwebb on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It's always pretty fascinating to read a story that is so familiar through TV adaptions and so on. Sometimes the book can be surprising - the Invisible Man, for example, was really the story of descent into madness. This also was not really what I was expecting. It was reflective, low on Triffid action, and very thoughtful. Very enjoyable as well
jayne_charles on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Despite being written a fair old time ago, this book is just as relevant as ever in these days of genetically modified crops. Its a chilling vision of a future that really could happen. My all time favourite apocalypse novel, if only it could have been longer!
KeithAkers on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read this when I was much younger, I don't remember the exact year. I thought it was a very ingenious spin-off of the "end of the world" or "big, big disaster" theme. I liked how the book treated the topic of the disintegration of human society in the face of a major collapse of humans.
lcisabell on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Simple science fiction at its best. Imagine London in the year of 1951 and a must see, once in a lifetime meteorite shower show takes place and causes everyone who witnesses the event becomes blind. During such happenings Triffids a once considered harmful garden plant begins to prey on humans, capable of discharging poison to kill and eat humans around the world. Can be used for descriptive, creative fiction writing, book reviews. A great book for young readers book club, book includes a reading group guide. Recommended for readers 12 years and older.
robyn123 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wyndham¿s ¿The day of the Triffids¿ is a post-apocalyptic story that deprives many character¿s of their sight, then leaves them to deal with attempting to create a new society all the while many animal like plants are threatening them. The story is intriguing, in its portrayal of humanity¿s response to conflict, and the loss of sight; a absorbing read.
Danielle23 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of my favourite sci-fi books and one of my favourite 1001 books. The story is gripping and chilling from the first hint of blindness at the beginning to the attack of the triffids at the very end.
MarkKeeffe on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really liked this book. It was a really good yarn. The auther really thought through the consequenses of the hyperthetical situation. It is really compact writing but very powerful. Makes you think how you would react. Highly recommended. No wonder it's so well known.
eleanor_eader on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
No matter how many times I come across this story, or in what incarnation, I always find the beginning unutterably creepy ¿ to wake up blind, in a world that has fallen silent, to feel around the edges and discover that it¿s not just a local condition, but one that spreads out in every direction, gives me, frankly, the heebs.I¿ve just reread this post-apocalyptic jewel sixteen years (ish) since the first time I picked it up. You can¿t really forget the general plotline of The Day of the Triffids, (cosmic light show, blindness, sighted `survivors¿, giant man-eating plants wandering about like psychopathic ents which lie in wait in hedgerows and gardens while the hero tries to figure out which of the myriad plans for the `future¿ he encounters are viable) but I had entirely forgotten being delighted by Wyndham¿s writing style, and by the sociological and philosophical course of the narrator¿s thoughts and dialogue. And, really, just how well he conjures the air of menace brought about by ambulatory, stinging stalks. I mean, they sound preposterous, but if you saw one you¿d run. Something about the fact that they are unreservedly lethal, and possess something that seems to lie between instinct and intelligence. I repeat, heebs.Entirely worth reading. Entirely worth rereading. Just don¿t expect me to do any gardening for a week or so.
fothpaul on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Very good story, some writing I felt was a little bit long winded. Can't fault the overall plot but there seemed to me to be a few unnecessary parts which did not add much to the story. Definitely worth reading though. Would read more of Wyndhams work.
pinkyslippers on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I can't believe I've never read this classic disaster novel until know. Wyndham's tale of hope at the end of the world as we know it is a well-paced spine-tingling tale of nature's ultimate revenge of man and is a cautionary tale of bioterrorism backfiring on us. Ultimately the book is a tale of human survival against all odds, and how people react in a disaster and turn into their baser selves. I read the book in a weekend and it has stayed with me. If you haven't read this I would highly recommend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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clong on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Reading this story if like watching a really good three hour long Twilight Zone episode. The Day of the Triffids is memorably effective storytelling: the first person narrative works well, the ebb and flow of tension is handled well, the urban scenes are very effective, the tantalizing hints of danger from the Triffids builds towards later large scale confrontations. On the other hand, it is also clearly dated in important ways, with the role of the women characters, especially Josella, being exhibit A. Coker in some ways is the most interesting character in the book, and it would have been nice to follow a bit more of his story. Day of the Triffids reminded me of a very focused version of Lucifer's Hammer (i.e., in focusing primarily on how individuals, small groups, and large groups will respond post disaster). Having seen headlines about groups of thugs in New Orleans fighting, looting, and raping right before reading this book (headlines which in retrospect seem to have been exaggerated) really brought home how tenuous is (at least our confidence in) our collective ability to hold on to "civilization" in times of crisis. One thing I really didn't find credible was that, within a couple days after the disaster, the Beadley party was focusing their attention on rewriting marriage covenants (so that the women could concentrate on their "natural function"--having babies). Even if some of them were already thinking about this, I just cannot believe that this would be the central tenant of their "This is how we're going to do things, if you're coming with us, you're signing on for this program" message. Despite my reservations the effectiveness of the storytelling outweighs the weaknesses, and this memorable book is well worth the short investment of time.