Share for friends:

The Day Of The Triffids (2003)

The Day of the Triffids (2003)

Book Info

3.98 of 5 Votes: 2
Your rating
0812967127 (ISBN13: 9780812967128)
modern library

About book The Day Of The Triffids (2003)

The next stop in my end-of-the-world reading marathon was The Day of the Triffids, the 1951 man-versus-plants tale by John Wyndham. After an apocalyptic journey across the United States in The Stand and Swan Song, it was fascinating to read about how the U.K. might tackle doomsday and I have to say that the stoic and unruffled British response gave me hope for mankind's endurance. With the first of several imaginative chapter titles (The End Begins) and cheeky wit, Wyndham introduces our narrator, thirty-year-old Bill Masen, who wakes at St. Merryn's Hospital in the West End of London with bandages over his eyes. It seems that the world has come to some kind of a standstill, but without his sight, Bill is slow to comprehend what might be happening. Due to his injury, he missed out on the celestial event of a lifetime, a shower of green shooting stars which everyone looked up to observe while Bill was bedridden. Stripping off his bandages, Bill wanders the halls of the hospital, discovering scenes he compares to Doré's pictures of sinners in hell, with patients massed in the lobby, sobbing or moaning, none of them with the sight to find the exit. Running into a pub across the street, Bill finds two blind men. One of them reveals that his wife and boys were blinded by the "bloody comets" along with everyone else in London. The man bowed out of participating with his wife in suicide by gas fumes and is in search of something stronger than gin to drink to summon the courage to join them.Bill backtracks to explain his occupation and how it landed him in the hospital. He's a biologist specializing in the cultivation of a strange new form of carnivorous flora that appeared suddenly many years ago. Covered with sticky, leathery green leaves, the plants grow anywhere from four to six feet in height and have a funnel-like formation at the top of their stems from which a whip-like stinger attacks its victims. Three small sticks at the base of the stem allow the plants to walk and have inspired the media to name them "triffids". Quite a problem in some tropical regions, triffids are more of a curiosity in the developed world, where they're kept chained up or cultivated on farms. Bill holds the distinction of being one of the first Britons stung by a triffid and developed a fascination with the creatures. His co-worker Walter notes that the triffids seem to share some form of communication and that if not for the benefit of sight, man would quickly find himself under them in the food chain. While on the job, a triffid splashes poison inside Bill's protective goggles, sending him to the hospital.Wandering the groping city, Bill comes across the blind as they stagger the sidewalks for food. He determines that assisting them would only delay the inevitable. He makes an exception by responding to the screams of a young woman he finds being beaten in an alley by a blind man who appears to have lassoed her into service as a seeing eye dog. Bill rescues the woman, an author named Josella Playton, and escorts her home, where she discovers her father and their hired help all felled by triffids which have surrounded the house.Bill & Josella find an abandoned apartment to spend the night and form a plan of action. With no civil authority coming to help and more Londoners resorting to suicide, Bill determines that they need to evacuate the city before the corpses pose a health hazard. Josella suggests a farmhouse she knows of in Sussex Downs that has a water pump and makes it own electricity. Before turning in, they spot a search light originating from University Tower and inspect it before leaving London. There, the couple discover more sighted survivors. At the time, none of them are as concerned about the triffids as Bill is.The Day of the Triffids kept my blood pressure strictly at 120/80. I can't remember getting excited once in the course of 225 pages and initially, I chalked this up as a fail. Bill & Josella seem so mild-mannered in their response to the apocalypse, as if a cup of tea and to-do list will make all this end-of-the-world business quite all right, mate. Bill observes some disturbing things, but like his narrator, Wyndham doesn't see much to gain by getting particularly upset by them. It's such a stereotypically removed British approach and it took some getting used to.Wyndham's writing is a delight and kept me flipping the pages, even when Bill & Josella seemed more inconvenienced than endangered.I myself had not been one of those addicted to living in an apartment with a rent of some two thousand pounds a year, but I found that there were decidedly things to be said in favor of it. The interior decorators had been, I guessed, elegant young men with just that ingenious gift for combining taste with advanced topicality which is so expensive. Consciousness of fashion was the mainspring of the place. Here and there were certain unmistakable derniers cris, some of them undoubtedly destined --had the world pursued its expected course--to become the rage of tomorrow; others, I would say, a dead loss from their very inception.The storytelling gets a bit choppy as Wyndham introduces retina-damaging comets and then backpedals to introduce a carnivorous plant species -- one or the other would've sufficed for a novel this short -- and I didn't find his explanation for either to be very compelling. The life cycle of the triffid didn't seem particularly thought out and as a monster, leaves a lot to be desired. Being attacked by a triffid actually seems preferable to surviving one, especially if you were blinded.The more time I allowed myself to think about Wyndham's slow motion apocalypse, the more spooky it became. A great silence overwhelms the world and the survivors are presented with quite a bit of remorse as they fend for themselves and leave the not-so-fortunate on their own. The stoic response seems to be little more than a coping mechanism on the part of Bill & Josella and Wyndham does a great job of painting how hopeless the fight against nature would become. The Day of the Triffids has endured in radio, film and television. The 1963 film version in Cinemascope is one of the key creature features I grew up with. The BBC produced a television serial based on the novel in 1981 and again in 2009, with Dougray Scott as Bill and Joely Richardson as Jo. Wyndham's work has also had a big impact on apocalyptic tales not involving triffids, with both 28 Days Later and The Walking Dead taking their cues from this novel.

Some books can be quite ill-served by their title. 'Not enough triffids!' would complain those lured to this book by the promise of a fun sci-fi romp centered around carnivorous sentient plants - just to find something entirely different.But you gotta agree - a more appropriate title for this unexpected gem of a book such as "How complete disintegration of society and civilization as we know it, the sudden helplessness and the painful realization how little it takes to throw us off our tenuous perch on the top of the food chain leads to uncomfortable ethical questions about societal structures and conventions and the implications of successful survival in a forever changed world where our morals and ideas and what we think constitutes humanity may become quite obsolete" - well, it doesn't really roll off the tongue, doesn't it?This book is really about survival in the midst of disintegrating society and all the implications of it that go against the frequent and quite stereotypical portrayal of such happenings. It's not an optimistic ode to the courageous and morally sound few who carry the torch of civilization into the future while dodging death, slaying monsters and coming unscathed out of numerous death traps, proving again and again that humanity triumphs over all obstacles. No, it's more somberly bleak than that.In Wyndham's story, it did not take much to unravel our society. All it took was a case of worldwide blindness after a breathtakingly beautiful meteor shower that left the vast majority of humans blind, and in the resulting confusion and struggle present-day civilization found its end. Add to it a plague-like outbreak that followed, and finally the titular triffids (semi-sentient mobile carnivorous plants carelessly bioengineered by humans back when our supremacy was a given) - and the survivors of the disaster have their hands full when they try to survive and rebuild some kind of organized new world. "Standing there, and at that time, my heart still resisted what my head was telling me. Even yet I had the feeling that it was all something too big, too unnatural really to happen. Yet I knew that it was by no means the first time that it had happened. The corpses of other great cities are lying buried in deserts, and obliterated by the jungles of Asia. Some of them fell so long ago that even their names have gone with them. But to those who lived there their dissolution can have seemed no more probable or possible than the necrosis of a great modern city seemed to me...It must be, I thought, one of the race's most persistent and comforting hallucinations to trust that 'it can't happen here' - that one's own little time and place is beyond cataclysms. And now it was happening here. Unless there should be some miracle I was looking on the beginning of the end of London - and very likely, it seemed, there were other men, not unlike me, who were looking on the beginning of the end of New York, Paris, San Francisco, Buenos Aires, Bombay, and all the rest of the cities that were destined to go the way of those others under the jungle."The questions that must be faced once the end of the world as we know it arrives are not heroic (How do we triumph over the monsters?) but quite prosaically practical and yet staggering in their implications: How do we go on as a society - and is there even a place for society as we know it? What do we preserve? What do we have to discard? How do we deal with realizing our own weakness and fragility as a species? Is there a place for the old values and ideas of good and evil, of morals, of responsibility - or does the changed society make us necessarily evolve with it? How much can we move on in the world that has moved on? And the titular triffids lurk just around the corner, hiding in the background until you expect them the least, presenting a slow but steady threat to any attempts to regroup and rebuild, rising up the suddenly vacated niche of the top predators as humans are busy surviving - but they are not the only monsters around.The real challenge to the survival of humans are, of course, other humans. As they come to grips with what happened, every group of survivors - seeing and blind alike - all have their own ideas where this new world should be heading to. Conventional morals and usual laws collapse with the society that created them. That's where Wyndham in a very detached, frequently deceptively neutral and sometimes even deadpan delivers the examples of various conventional and not-so-conventional societal set-ups (none of them even remotely ideal) which all challenge ethical principles and societal conventions in so many different ways - and the trouble is, some of them may be necessary in this forever changed world.Of course, written in 1951, this book is very much the product of its time. The eventual threat of the triffids originated, as one would expect in the Cold War society, from the unexplainable and mysterious depths of the enemy Russia. The attitudes of characters are frequently quite paternalistic, especially when any woman is concerned. The attitude towards disability are very appropriate for that time - and, needless to say, not for our day and age. And yet despite the dated attitudes there is a time-transcending quality to Wyndham's storytelling and its purpose, and that's what makes this book survive to the present day as a classic that does not stop being relevant, that still makes you think critically about humanity and society and question things that we are so used to taking for granted, and that treats humanity despite all of our clear flaws and arrogance as something that deserves to survive and persevere. “When a day that you happen to know is Wednesday starts off by sounding like Sunday, there is something seriously wrong somewhere.”

Do You like book The Day Of The Triffids (2003)?

It's always nice to know that sometimes I bring up the rear when it comes to reading certain books. Apparently, I am one of the last book lovers on earth to finish this sci-fi classic. Most appropriate, given the content.In the country of the blind the one-eyed man is king.The Wellsian short story served as the basis for this Wyndham classic, but the author also reached further into the ways the industrial revolution had made functionaries of humans. Civil service. Existence with no focus. Overreliance on so-called leaders (noted here as 'The Americans'). Take away the normal daily routine of the average citizen and chaos ensues. In essence, sauerkraut belongs in a barrel, not in a kind of community's virtue may well be another kind of community's crime...Other times, other customs. The spectacular becomes the commonplace. The various themes explored by Wyndham are spot-on and rather scary. As a reader, I certainly worried more about the remaining humans than I did about the plants. The hero grew on me, especially with his ability to adapt quickly because of the new freedom he perceived.I also have strange plants in my garden. Echium (Pride of Madeira), which is nasty when rubbed against. They have now re-seeded without my assistance and are taking over most of the remaining space. They should be learning to walk soon...I plan to be on their side. NOTE: while there was a movie title with the book's name, the real movie related to this book is 28 DAYS LATER. Replace the zombies with the Triffs.Book Season = Spring (the frog is never wrong)

Read this for the first time years ago, must have been when I was about 15 but suddenly thought I would post a few Wyndham reviews whilst eating my lunch cos he is a brilliant writer; although John Wyndham and a comfortably swallowed lunch probably are not the best of bedfellows. The story in some ways is of a skewed natural world in all its many guises rising up and seeking revenge. Whether it be, initially, the comet shower which most people go out to gaze upon and are then blinded by its affects or the resultant chaos into which the aforesaid Triffid throw a posionous lash of panic. The vision it gives of the breakdown of society and the trampling down of human feelings is incredible. The blind left to struggle and I remember clearly as a teenager first reading this account and being horrified by the helplessness of those people. The story is bleak and cruel; nature red in tooth and claw I suppose but the building up of the communities to fight back is stirring stuff which is probably why I loved it as a young lad.Not just for that reason though. As a lad it also enabled me to throw in all the appalling vegetation puns i could think of. They were branching out into something new; leafing through a manual on world domination when it finally twigged. Oh yes, they still make me smile even in amidst the groaning.However the book is tense and clever and paranoid, like most of Wyndham's works. There is a real unnerving chill to the Triffids' intelligence and I always recall the thrill of horror when one of the survivors remarks how they had found another batch of survivors because they had seen how the Triffids had gathered at the boundary fence like invaders having sensed fresh prey

When I was about 14, I read my father's old Penguin classic copy -- a bright orange paperback from the 1950s. And absolutely loved it. I've read it countless times since, and is one of the books I think about most. Officially my favorite book. Having said that -- it has no literary pretensions, most characters are fairly one dimensional, and the triffids themselves (walking, thinking, carnivorous plants) I have always thought of as a rather annoying distraction. What gripped me, and grips me still, is the central premise -- that one day, the vast majority of humanity goes blind (Jose Saramago, the Nobel prize winner, has the same premise in "Blindness," but for my money Wyndham makes a better job of it). What got me was the ease with which civilization is destroyed. Something enters the atmosphere looking like a green comet and puts on a breathtaking show -- nearly everyone on earth rushes out to watch, and wakes up blind. This is easily 99% of humanity. The few sighted people must decide whether to help the people around them, or to go off and set up their own society. In the middle of the book, there is a talky chapter in which various sighted people debate the options. The main character is a guy called Bill Masen, who was in a hospital outside London with his eyes bandaged on the day of the comet. Through him we see the fate of London and the British countryside. If this book were written today, it would be 1000 pages (The Stand, anyone?). Wyndham brings it in at about 200. A fast read, and a brilliant conceit.

download or read online

Read Online

Write Review

(Review will shown on site after approval)

Other books by author John Wyndham

Other books in series triffids

Other books in category Fiction