In The Day of the Triffids, deadly carnivorous plants try to take over the world. Adapted into a film, two TV series, and several radio dramas, this book is an excellent illustration of early apocalyptic science fiction.
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.
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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