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The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham
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The Day of the Triffids (1951)

by John Wyndham

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4,3811261,123 (4.03)4 / 396
  1. 81
    Blindness by José Saramago (infiniteletters, juan1961)
    juan1961: Escritas con muchos años de diferencia, no cabe la menor duda de que enel argumento existen grandes similitudes, lo cual no quiere decir que tengan algo que ver. A quien le guste la ciencia-ficción, no debería desdeñar esta obra de Saramago, más centrada en la ciencia-ficción política o social.… (more)
  2. 60
    The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells (clif_hiker)
  3. 40
    The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham (timspalding)
  4. 40
    Earth Abides by George R. Stewart (infiniteletters)
  5. 30
    The Country of the Blind and Other Science-Fiction Stories by H. G. Wells (sturlington)
    sturlington: Alluded to in the novel.
  6. 20
    No Blade of Grass by John Christopher (Rynooo)
  7. 20
    The Chrysalids by John Wyndham (sturlington)
  8. 20
    The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin (Booksloth)
  9. 10
    The Road by Cormac McCarthy (hazzabamboo)
    hazzabamboo: Two post-apocalyptic masterpieces, with much of their power coming from their focus on a couple of characters and the exotic horrors that threaten them.
  10. 10
    Dark Piper by Andre Norton (DisassemblyOfReason)
    DisassemblyOfReason: What The Day of the Triffids does with plants, Dark Piper may be said to do with animals. In both stories, a world has been given to large-scale experimentation with dangerous creatures - for commercial reasons with the triffids, while for more military applications with the animals on Beltane in Dark Piper. Both stories carry the suggestion that someone (possibly deliberately) turned loose various weapons of germ warfare not long after a major catastrophe, and both stories follow a small group through territory largely abandoned by humans, although unfortunately not by everything...… (more)
  11. 21
    The Kraken Wakes by John Wyndham (timspalding)
  12. 00
    The Furies by Keith Roberts (infiniteletters)
    infiniteletters: The Furies is definitely on the hokier side.
  13. 00
    Mutant 59: The Plastic-Eaters by Kit Pedler (infiniteletters)
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English (118)  French (2)  Danish (2)  Spanish (1)  Slovak (1)  Swedish (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (126)
Showing 1-5 of 118 (next | show all)
Still my favourite apocalypse novel, from a master of the art (of jolly hockey sticks apocalypse). Wyndham never fails to deliver on the best and worst of humanity, thought-provoking social and political commentary, and a firm belief that less is more in the horror stakes which is masterfully effective. Our hero wakes one morning to discover that while he has been recovering from vision impairment, the rest of the world has literally gone blind overnight and is at the mercy of the carnivorous plants that nearly blinded him. Never successfully dramatised, this is a stunning debut novel and possibly his best book as he explores different attitudes to survival and the greater good. ( )
  imyril | Jul 18, 2014 |
The book that started the genre of the 50's popular movies involving monsters and aliens. This was well written and entertaining. Walking plants invade! ( )
  JVioland | Jul 14, 2014 |
I suspect there isn't anything new I can say in a review of Wyndham's "The Day of the Triffids" that hasn't already been said in the 120+ reviews already here on LT. I'm not about to read through them looking for some new point to be made. My reviews are primarily written for me as remembrances anyway. I can clearly see that the vast majority of readers have rated this as 4 to 5 stars. That is pretty impressive.

I picked up my rather tattered 30 year old paperback 3 months ago at our local library's book sale. My 1983 edition proclaims right there on the cover: "Hailed as the greatest science-fiction masterpiece of our time." Hmmmm I've been aware of Wyndham as a writer for a very long time. I read his 1968 novel "Chocky" when it was brand new and it was one of the earliest science fiction novels I remember reading as a teenager. I still have my copy. I've read a few more of his stories since then. I can't recall ever being disappointed and I usually remember who disappointed me as a reader! Triffids is a 1951 novel first serialized in Collier's magazine and was adapted into a 1963 movie and more recent BBC productions. Reading the novel I can see that some changes were made for the film. In the film, as I recall, the triffids were plants grown from alien spores that arrived on earth in a meteor shower which blinds everyone who looks at it. Alien invasion time. In the book the narrator, who is giving us his personal record, tells us that the origin of the triffids isn't precisely known, but they would seem to most likely be the result of genetic engineering carried out by the Soviets and the triffids were created and farmed to supply an oil that is superior to just about any other oil known. The end of the world begins when seeds are stolen and smuggled out of Russia and scattered on the winds across the world. Then everyone watches the sky to see a lightshow as the earth supposedly passes through the debris trail of a comet.

Civilization collapses. It collapses because nearly everyone on the planet is blinded. The eventual attack of the Triffids happens after and there is virtually no one able to stop them. But the remnants of humanity try to fight back.

Wyndham is a good writer, and the book is written in a kind of conversational style of writing that I find easy to read and that I like. The story is told by our main protagonist, a biologist who has survived the day, and the days and the years of the triffids. His is a unique story and his name is Bill Masen. The novel surprisingly has a few modern sensibilities to it. There really are only a handful of characters, and one of them is a pretty strong woman, Josella Playton.

The book has a very powerful beginning that really pulls the reader into the story and grabs your interest. One of the other strengths in the book is the examination of the fragility of modern society and the human condition and how quickly it can unravel, and the consequences of that. Most people seem to completely give up. Some don't, and there are various ideas about how humans and humanity can survive and hopefully fight back and rebuild. There's a near constant thread of optimism in here.

There were a few things that bothered me and I think even a casual reader couldn't help notice. It was entirely too coincidental that the Triffids decided that it was time to break out and attack humanity the very morning after the blinding of the population. The survivors, after years of dealing with the Triffids and still not understanding them wonder about that too. In retrospect I can see this as the man-created evil was just biding time and waiting for the chance for payback. I also found it bizarre while reading that the hot water, electricity, gas for stoves were completely gone the morning after. There is also the rather strange appearance of a devastating plague only a few days after the initial event. We are told there is no radio or television (no electricity). Other than a plot device I must wonder why. These odd things caused me to wonder if the whole business wasn't some plot gone wrong by a nefarious country or organization. We do get a bit more information by the end, some guesses, but not enough. I also found it bizarre that society collapsed and people leaped from windows within hours of being blinded. No one knew if it was permanent or why. It was pretty illogical to me and started bothering me, not immediately, but as I read and reflected on this quick and utter collapse of everything.

In sum, I wouldn't call this the greatest science-fiction masterpiece of our time. I don't think I'd even call it great, but it is certainly good. The end isn't really an end. It is a seminal early entry in apocalyptic fiction and deserves extra points for that.

One more thing. There are apparently two versions of the novel. There is the original British version and there is the Americanized version. The Americanized version changes words here and there but more importantly, chunks of the story are chopped out or abbreviated. I read the chopped version unknowingly. This is really irritating and according to one website about 12% of the original story is missing. Perhaps some of the "explaining" got the axe. ( )
3 vote RBeffa | Jun 18, 2014 |
My reactions to reading this novel in 2006.

Brian Aldiss referred to the work of John Wyndham as "cosy catastrophe". I don't think, in retrospect, he meant that the disaster's of Wyndham's works are improbably nice and clean. I think he was referring to the narrative strategy Wyndham used in this and The Kraken Awakes: first person narratives centering around one or two individuals who have limited knowledge and explanation of the disaster they face and limited means of dealing with it. (For instance, the narrator here has no definite proof that the blindness which strikes most of humanity is the result of satellite weapons -- an interesting idea for the beginning of the satellite age -- or that the lethal plague which breaks out after the blindness is an engineered disease)

This stands in direct contrast to the best-seller idiom of later American works like Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle's Lucifer's Hammer. (I don't know enough about styles of the time to know if something similar to Niven and Pournelle existed in disaster fiction prior to this book.) John Christopher, another English writer from the time, fits into this style, and a prior American work, George R. R. Stewart's Earth Abides, does too. In fact, as the story progressed and we heard about how the houses and roads and bridges of England were being eroded away by nature, I was very much reminded of Stewart's novel.

Tonally and thematically, though, there is nothing cosy or comfortable about this novel. There is something very visceral about the blinding of most of humanity, an unclean disaster that requires, for disaster fiction, an unusual amount of lifeboat ethics in that the narrator and some of his fellow survivors realize they are not doing the blind any good by temporarily saving them from death.

Wyndham's genius, of course, is combining the blindness with the "invasion" of genetically engineered, ambulatory, poisonous triffids. As with Wyndham's Re-Birth and The Midwich Cuckoos, we are constantly reminded of the Darwinian struggle for life, of competing species and supplanters in our midst. As the narrator memorably remarks in a book of many memorable, philosophical line, custom and tradition have been long mistaken for natural law.

An Wyndham strips things to basics. In what may be a cliche, the breeding and reproductive capabilities of the surviving women are of paramount importance, the possibility of polygamy discussed. It's clichéd, but it's cliched because that would be a very realistic and natural concern. Wyndham, to the annoyance of some feminist readers of the novel, says women want to have children. It is a paramount concern of Josella in the hazardous world she finds herself. Again, I think that's realistic. Wyndham embraces a practical kind of feminism when he says that women will have to learn to pull their own weight, learn, as they did during World War II, how to do many things they are used to depending on men for.

There are a surprisingly large number of on stage suicides in this novel, again I think realistically. There is the fighting of triffids -- not successfully. The novel ends in the stalemate of the English survivors retreating to the Isle of Wight and hoping, by organizing their society to provide enough leisure for scientific research, for the hero (a triffid expert) and others to figure out how to defeat the triffids. The Darwinian struggle never really ends. Alternative methods of political organization are tried by survivors in London and elsewhere. (London must be one of the most trashed cities in sf since it had a good head start in that direction with H. G. Wells' The War of the Worlds.) The sinister Torrance suggests a form of feudalism. There is an implication, given his military stores and his quick and calm shooting of early plague victims, that Torrance may have some connection to the pre-disaster military.

A justly classic work. ( )
  RandyStafford | May 7, 2014 |
Remember this being the first actual novel I ever read(not counting kids books).
Was about 11 years old and I was hooked.
Have read this every year since.
Highly reccommend.
  har28low | Apr 23, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (46 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John Wyndhamprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bergey, EarleCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bridge. AndyCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Doeve, EppoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Langford, BarryIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Leger, PatrickIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lord, PeterCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Malcolm, GraemeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Morris, EdmundIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Powers, RichardCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Salwowski, MarkCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stewart, JohnCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Viskupic, GaryCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
West, SamuelNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Willock, HarryCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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When a day that you happen to know is Wednesday starts off by sounding like Sunday, there is something seriously wrong somewhere.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Fiction. Dystopian. Science fiction. Post-apocalyptic. English.
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.
Бил Мейсън, заради травма, е с превръзка на очите и пропуска най-зрелищния метеоритен дъжд, падал някога над Англия. На следващия ден сваля превръзката и с ужас установява, че хиляди слепци се скитат по улиците. Скоро среща Джозела, друга щастливка съхранила зрението си. Двамата напускат града, осъзнали, че безопасният и така добре познат само допреди 24 часа свят, завинаги е изчезнал. Апокалипсисът бавно, но сигурно напредва с Трифидите - странни растения, появили се на различни места по Земята. Трифидите достигат над два метра, измъкват корените си от почвата, ходят и убиват човек само с един светкавичен замах на отровните си пипала.
И все пак, "Денят на трифидите" не е роман на ужасите, а мъдро предупреждение за риска, който крие всяка самонадеяна човешка безотговорност.
Haiku summary
Night of blinding lights,
Walking plants lurk in darkness,
Now who will survive?
(SylviaC)

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0812967127, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:50:45 -0400)

(see all 9 descriptions)

"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."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

» see all 5 descriptions

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Three editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141185414, 0141033002, 0143566539

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