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Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Day of the Triffids (1951) by John Wyndham

The Day of the Triffids was made into a forgettable 1960 film.
Book Review
The Day of the Triffids (1951)
 by John Wyndham

  The Day of the Triffids is a nearly forgotten (in the US) science fiction classic by English genre Author John Wyndham.  Wyndham spent a career laboring in the lower echelons of English publishing before breaking through with The Day of the Triffids and The Midwich Cuckoos, both of which sold in an amount which ensured his fortune.

   Like The Midwich Cuckoos, Wyndham expertly evokes Cold War vibes, namely fear of invasion by an alien "other" with a relentless hive mind.  Here, the monsters are not alien babies but giant walking plants that communicate with one another and kill with a sting.  Wyndham doubles down on thematic complexity by staging a mass blinding of 98% of humanity the night prior to the Triffid uprising.   The idea of a mass blinding of humanity is itself a durable theme, see Blindness by Jose Saramago, published in 1995, and the subsequent film version.

  If you can track down a copy, it's worth a read, especially for sci-fi fans who may have missed The Day of the Triffids because of its borderline in-print status in the United States.  There is also a recently published sequel, Night of the Triffids, by a separate author.  I actually mistakenly read Night first, and it was decent, much better than one might reasonably expect from a sequel written decades later by a different author.

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