The Day of the Triffids

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Rosetta Books, Jul 1, 2010 - Fiction - 256 pages
3 Reviews
The classic postapocalyptic thriller with “all the reality of a vividly realized nightmare” (The Times, London).
Triffids are odd, interesting little plants that grow in everyone’s garden. Triffids are no more than mere curiosities—until an event occurs that alters human life forever.
What seems to be a spectacular meteor shower turns into a bizarre, green inferno that blinds everyone and renders humankind helpless. What follows is even stranger: spores from the inferno cause the triffids to suddenly take on a life of their own. They become large, crawling vegetation, with the ability to uproot and roam about the country, attacking humans and inflicting pain and agony.
William Masen somehow managed to escape being blinded in the inferno, and now after leaving the hospital, he is one of the few survivors who can see. And he may be the only one who can save his species from chaos and eventual extinction . . .
With more than a million copies sold, The Day of the Triffids is a landmark of speculative fiction, and “an outstanding and entertaining novel” (Library Journal).
“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
“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

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User Review  - californiakris -

This book pairs an adventure story with serious questions what is the best way to handle a new society when virtually all of the population is destroyed and a menace remains. Who do you save How do you run the new world Read full review

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Thirty year old William (Bill) Masen lives in London, England, and is a biologist who works with triffids, strange tall plants that can move around on their own, have a very poisonous sting, and will even feed on dead flesh, but they are cultivated because their oil is quite valuable. One of Bill’s coworkers, Walter Lucknot, once noted that triffids would be better adapted for survival than people who are blind. Then Bill is accidentally stung by a triffid and spends a week in a hospital with bandages over his eyes. He misses the most spectacular meteorite shower which the world has ever seen, but removing his bandages the next morning, he finds masses of people wandering the city who have been blinded by the green flashes. He soon meets 24 year old wealthy author Josella Playton, another lucky person who has retained her sight because she took a sleeping draught and slept through the meteor shower, and they eventually fall in love.
Bill and Josella discover a group of sighted survivors at the university led by a man named Michael Beadley, who plans to establish a colony in the countryside, and they decide to join the group. But before they can leave, a man called Wilfred Coker stages a fire at the university and kidnaps a number of sighted individuals, including Bill and Josella, each of whom is chained to a blind person and assigned to lead a squadron of the blind to collect food and other supplies. However, people begin dying of an unknown plague, and Bill escapes but finds neither Beadley’s group nor Josella. All the while, the triffids seem to be proliferating. What has happened to Beadley’s group? Will Bill ever find Josella? And how will he cope with the triffids? On Amazon there was a big discussion about modern versions of this book being edited, abridged, censored, and/or bowdlerized, removing a scene in Chapter 1 when Bill Masen encounters the doctor in the corridors of the hospital who commits suicide and other “adult” parts, and excising all cursing and similar expletives, ostensibly in an attempt to make the story more suitable for children and younger readers.
My copy did not have the doctor’s suicide in Chapter 1, so it must be abridged, but it does contain other suicides along with a very significant amount of cursing and profanity, and some descriptive violence is found as when a sick person is shot through the head, so I would not say that it was necessarily censored or bowdlerized. Also, there are copious instances of smoking cigarettes and drinking various kinds of alcoholic beverages. Some relativistic thinking occurs, especially in a discussion of marriage and reproduction, and polygamy is implicit in Beadley’s scheme. A group with “Christian standards” is portrayed in somewhat of a negative light. At the same time, someone says, “Whatever the myths that have grown up about it, there can be no doubt that somewhere far back in our history there was a Great Flood.” One reviewer wrote that author John “Wyndham chillingly anticipates bio-warfare and mass destruction, fifty years before their realization, in this prescient account of Cold War paranoia.” It is an interesting story, and those who enjoy science fiction with a touch of horror should like the book. Simon Clark wrote a sequel, The Night of the Triffids (2001), set 25 years after Wyndham’s book.

Selected pages


First Page
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 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
Last Page

Chapter 9 Evacuation
Chapter 10 Tynsham

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About the author (2010)

John Wyndham Parkes Lucas Beynon Harris (1903-69) was a British novelist who wrote under the name John Wyndham, although he had at least seven other pen names. Wyndham began publishing stories in the early 1930s, often in American magazines, but did not really find his stride as a writer until he returned from serving for World War II. The War changed the world drastically, and it was now in the grips of nuclear apocalypse, a scenario that both terrified and fascinated Wyndam. While Wyndham's approach to writing is best classified as fantasy and science fiction, his work is often said to transcend both genre and category. Both The Day of the Triffids and The Midwich Cuckoos (titled The Village of the Damned) were made into blockbuster movies.

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