The Day of the Triffids

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RosettaBooks, Jul 1, 2010 - Fiction - 256 pages
3 Reviews
The Times wrote of John Wyndham's terrifying post-apocalyptic thriller The Day of the Triffids that it had, "All the reality of a vividly realized nightmare." It may best serve our purposes to tell what triffids actually are. 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: what seems to be a spectacular meteor shower, turns into a bizarre, green inferno that blinds everyone and thus renders humankind helpless. What follows is even stranger: spores from the inferno cause the triffids to suddenly take on a life of their own and they become large, crawling vegetation with the ability to uproot itself and roam about the country attacking humans and inflicting pain and agony. William Masen somehow managed to escape being blinded in the inferno (yet he was still hospitalized, eyes bandaged following surgery), and he is now one of the few surviving human beings who can see and who can avoid being attacked by the triffids and who just might be able to save mankind from the terrible chaos as well as possible extinction. The Day of the Triffids is generally held to be Wyndham's finest novel, and it was his first truly significant work. Wyndham's writing style has aptly been described as "speculative fiction". However, the real power of this book lays not in its pure invention but rather in its matter-of-fact depiction of such bizarre phenomena happening so suddenly in the midst of day-to-day life. The narrative voice of William Masen is calm and reasoned as he describes the ongoing nightmare and the attempt of those who try to prevail as he recalls the struggle from an almost historical perspective. The story is therefore mesmerizing and has never lost its quiet terror. The Midwich Cuckoos was made into the blockbuster cult horror film Village of the Damned. ABOUT THE AUTHOR 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. SERIES DESCRIPTIONS From classic book to classic film, RosettaBooks has gathered some of most memorable books into film available. The selection is broad ranging and far reaching, with books from classic genre to cult classic to science fiction and horror and a blend of the two creating whole new genres like Richard Matheson's The Shrinking Man. Classic works from Vonnegut, one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century, meet with E.M. Forster's A Passage to India. Whether the work is centered in the here and now, in the past, or in some distant and almost unimaginable future, each work is lasting and memorable and award-winning.

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User Review  - californiakris - Overstock.com

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.
 

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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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