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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.

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4,3001221,142 (4.03)4 / 385
1001 (34) 1001 books (37) 20th century (40) aliens (36) apocalypse (43) apocalyptic (23) blindness (52) British (48) classic (64) classics (23) dystopia (72) ebook (26) England (32) English (23) English literature (24) fantasy (34) fiction (464) Folio Society (22) horror (68) novel (99) own (22) paperback (25) plants (45) post-apocalyptic (149) read (83) science fiction (1,043) sf (183) sff (59) to-read (84) unread (25)
  1. 71
    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 (115)  French (2)  Spanish (1)  Slovak (1)  Swedish (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (121)
Showing 1-5 of 115 (next | show all)
Hooks you in, right from the start. One of the most powerful openings I've ever read. ( )
  linda.temple | Apr 9, 2014 |
"... if it were a choice for survival between a triffid and a blind man, I know which I'd put my money on."

This was my second John Wyndham novel (my first being The Chrysalids) and once again I found myself in the grip of an absorbing, well-plotted, complex and all-round interesting story. It didn't scare me stupid - not after the first chapter, at least - like it did some people, but it did make me think and I thought the triffids were fascinating. In actual fact, the plot wasn't at all what I was expecting. I thought there was some kind of alien conspiracy at work, and that the triffids were something akin to the tripod thingies in The War of the Worlds. In actual fact, they are bio-engineered carnivorous plants with long stings that lash out at their victims, delivering a deadly welt to the face or hands. They can also, bizarrely, raise themselves out of the soil and 'walk', lurching across the ground, and even seem to communicate. Probably the biggest surprise for me as I started reading was the fact that the triffids are already a huge presence on earth before the book begins. In some areas they're a menace; in others, large nurseries exploit their potential for scientific and medicinal use, and in affluent countries, properly tethered and with their stings regularly docked, they're a popular garden novelty. The events of the novel don't in themselves create a triffid rampage - they just send them to the top of the food chain...

The novel opens with protagonist Bill waking up in a London hospital the night after a brilliant green meteor shower. Not only has he not been able to watch the freak cosmic firework display that the rest of the world's been raving about, thanks to having treatment after a near miss in his job working as a triffid researcher, but the entire hospital seems to have shut down since he fell asleep. It quickly becomes apparent that something's very wrong, and when he plucks up the courage to remove his own eye bandages he realises he's the only person who can still see. All around him, other patients are waking up blind, and chaos ensues as panicking people stumble through the streets. Within hours order has broken down and Bill has already witnessed several suicides by people who have understood the futility of their situation. These early chapters are perhaps the most harrowing of them all, as despair sinks in and people realise that there's no one to help them survive and that at best they're probably going to starve to death in their homes.

Aaaand then the triffids begin to arrive, lurching in from the surrounding countryside, breaking out of their nurseries and homing in on their suddenly vulnerable sustenance of choice. For Bill and the companions he acquires, still sighted, well aware of the dangers triffids pose at the best of times, a little care is all that's required. For the blind, there is no such chance of survival. Actually, the triffids are probably less scary than I expected them to be. The stings are instantly lethal, so they're actually quite merciful as far as horror-novel monsters go. For people who are helpless and waiting to die, death by triffid - especially a death that can't be seen coming, can't be anticipated and feared - is almost a better way to go, I'd have said. There are still some horrendous attacks, some really heartbreaking and heartpounding moments, but I should have known better than to think Wyndham would resort to cheap thrills and relentless carnage...

Mostly the dystopian element of the novel comes from the blindness, the disintegration of society and the attempt at rebuilding something from the remnants of life as we know it. The triffids are a menace, but they're almost a side-plot a lot of the time, and in some ways that's probably what makes Wyndham's novels more subtle and less scary than some of his sci-fi-horror peers. As in The Chrysalids, the writing is fantastic, the plot is thoughtful, the characters (and their reactions to the crisis) are complex and varied, and the story feels surprisingly modern given that it was first published in 1951; it has that timeless era-vague quality that makes all the best books so enduring. I'm not sure which of these books I've preferred so far, but I still have The Kraken Wakes and The Midwich Cuckoos on my shelves and there are more at the library, so I'm definitely not done with Wyndham yet! ( )
1 vote elliepotten | Feb 3, 2014 |
Isn't it funny that even though you have read a book before the movie seems to dominate your mind, and I am not talking about the recent telemovie (which I haven't seen) but the older 1960s movie that basically makes a complete mockery of this book. Not only were the special effects in the movie really bad (which is not surprising considering when it was made) but what displeased me more was that it seemed to completely ignore some of the more important parts of the book, such as Josella (who simply does not appear, though Susan does) and the ideas that Wyndham explores in this post-apocalyptic nightmare.
For those who do not know, one night there is what is believed to be a meteor shower that ends up blinding everybody who looks at it, which pretty much encompasses a majority of the human population. This, however, is only part of the issue, though it is a major issue because it brings about the complete collapse of modern civilisation. What adds to the problem is the appearance of a carnivorous plant known as the Triffid. An entire chapter is devoted to the appearance of the Triffid, but the thing about them is that they can move and they can eat people. It also becomes apparent that they are also quite intelligent. However, Wyndham keeps the Triffids in the background until much later in the book when they develop into what is a very deadly threat to the remaining human population.
Day of the Triffids explores the possibilities of what would happen after a complete collapse of society, and Wyndham explores this quite well. As I have mentioned elsewhere, this and The Chrysalids are my favourite Wyndham books, and the only other one that I have read is The Kraken Wakes, which is nowhere near as good (though it also deals with an apocalypse in the making). Anyway, the main idea, as the main character Bill Masen explains, is that society is on a tightrope, one small slip can bring then entire system crashing down. Right at the beginning he points out that our society has become so specialised that if such a disaster were to happen our specialities would leave us in the lurch because we would not be able to function in any areas that our speciality does not encroach.
For instance, what good is a lawyer that specialises in corporate and securities law in a world where there is no law? Granted, they may be able to take the role of an arbiter and maybe a legislator, but that is where the lawyer's skills end. Even if they have time to potter around in the garden, the lawyer would be at a loss when it came to subsistence farming, or any mechanical activities. As Wyndham points repeatedly through the book, it is a major flaw in our society, especially at one point where they are at a loss because they have no doctor, or anybody with any discernible medical skills.
The other interesting thing that he explores is how humanity will devolve into savagery and one of the main challenges that the protagonists in this book face is to prevent that from happening. When Mason is in the compound with his wife, family, and others under his care, he is well aware that as supplies begin to dwindle they must look for alternatives, and when there are no alternatives, they begin to devolve into savagery. In one sense we see this already at the end when he is approached and asked to become 'the Lord of the Manor' despite not actually having any choice in the matter. However we are quickly told that this civilisation quickly collapses as they are unable to hold back the Triffids and are quickly over run. Further, as they spread their skills too thin, when disaster does strike they are completely unprepared.
What Wyndham does is that he paints a picture of a world straight after a holocaust and how it struggles to survive. Considering that this was written in the fifties, it is clear that Wyndham is using the Triffids and the blinding storm as allegories to the threat of the bomb that loomed over the world. We also have this false hope that help will arrive, and in fact some people simply do not want to begin to work to survive just in case this help arrives, but of course, the more time passes the less likely help will arrive, and as such the reality of this hope turns into blind faith. One sort of wonders if this is a little jab at religion where many of us wonder around and hide in little communities in the vain belief that Jesus will return and smite all of our enemies without actually understanding the implications of that desire. In fact, in one of the Old Testament books, one of the prophets rebukes Israel for this blind faith that God will spare them for no other reason than their belief that they deserve to be spared.
Finally I wish to finish off on the idea of the myth because this is also raised in this book as well. Bill and Josella speak about how they are going to tell their children about this apocalypse that changed the world. They raise the idea of a golden age that was destroyed, or the opposite, a sinful world that was purged by God. They equate that with the flood, in knowing that the only people who knew anything about the world before the flood was Noah and his family. Everybody who was born after the flood has only their word to go on as to what the world beforehand was like. They suggest that the idea of a golden age that was destroyed by nature is actually counter productive because they believe that people will only look back at that world rather than looking forward to the potential of a new world, and as such settle on the second idea, namely that it was a sinful world that was destroyed by God. ( )
  David.Alfred.Sarkies | Feb 1, 2014 |
I had read the spanish translation in the late 60s and I felt that "sci-fi" didn't realy conveyed all this book is about. When I moved to California, it was one of the first books in English I bought and it was even more gripping than my first reading. Sometime in the '80s I watched (A&E) a BBC movie version extremely faithful to the book. I got a DVD of it at the end of 2007. Again, the sheer power of the imagery, the vividness of the disaster, the terror produced by the stalking triffids was all there.
An apocalyptic tale that focuses on the reaction of normal, everyday people to events that defy all the expectations and premises one has. It might be sci-fi, but in my book it is plain and simply good literature ( )
  vonChillan | Jan 12, 2014 |
At the outset I expected very little of this novel. Having heard of it only as a movie,* one of any number of (presumably) lurid horror thrillers of the 1950s and 1960s, I was surprised to learn that a respectable novel was behind it. Seeing the book touted as a group read for October, I picked it up.

Right away I was interested in the serious themes. What happens to society when the laws and conventions that govern it are no longer possible to obey or enforce? when the vast majority of the population is disabled overnight? when groups formed for purposes of survival and mutual protection must reinvent the structures and processes that they have long since taken for granted? The bold premise of a world in which a scant few remain sighted and most of the rest have no way to fend for themselves offers room for broad speculation and philosophical exploration.

I was willing to overlook numerous apparent plot holes in the confidence that before the end the author would explain.

When there were just a handful of pages left, however, I could see that that was not going to happen.

In the end I was left with more questions than answers. Foremost among them: if the blinding comet passed overhead during the night, how about the half of the world that was in daylight when it happened?

What was the connection between the triffids and the comet? If people had made such an exhaustive study of triffids and what made them thrive, how could they not have learned at the same time what their weaknesses were and how to destroy them? What was the nature of the plague? What happened to the millions of blinded people, since there did not seem to be very many bodies lying around? I even wondered why, in England, not a single member of the aristocracy or the governing classes appeared anywhere in the book, not even when we were peering into posh apartments and stately country homes.

I was disappointed by the abrupt ending after a meandering plot and the author's failure to solve so many of the puzzles that arose in the story. It's not enough to say that the author doesn't explain because the narrator (a character in the story) doesn't know. As an expert on triffids, he should have known a good deal more than he told us. Also, by the time many years had passed, there ought to have been some word as to the fate of other nations.

For the letdown, and for the ten-year-old who speaks like a five-year-old, and for the apparent inability of mid-twentieth-century people to discover any method of communication other than face-to-face conversation, I give this book a harrumph and a three.

-----

*Day of the Triffids, 1963: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0055894/?ref_=fn_al_tt_2

( )
  Meredy | Dec 12, 2013 |
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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 4 descriptions

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