Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Review: The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham

There are very few things that are certain in life. The cynic might say that death and taxes are the only two certainties, but I think that is probably only because they have yet to learn that no matter how bitter and twisted one might be feeling on a particular day, a vegemite foldy over sandwich really can make it all better. Anyway, apart from death, taxes and vegemite foldy over sandwiches making things all better, there is one other certainty in life. And it is this. If you read a copy of The Day of the Triffids while sitting in any public place, you can be guaranteed that at least one person will come up to you and start chatting about how they read The Day of the Triffids back when they were at school. Note: It matters not whether this other person knows you personally or not. And ... now that I think of it, I must be the only person who didn't read The Day of the Triffids when I was at school. I remember reading Z for Zachariah, Picnic at Hanging Rock, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby and One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, but no The Day of the Triffids. Maybe that explains my reluctance to start conversations with random strangers who are reading in train stations, at the airport, etc, etc.

Moving along, The Day of the Triffids is a novel about some very aggressive genetically modified flowers taking over the earth in the wake of a meteor shower that has caused everybody who watched it to go blind. Triffids are able to walk and possess a deadly sting. They feed on humans. Given that most of the population is now blind, they are more or less free to roam the earth and attack anything that comes in their path. Consequently, the Triffids are now the ruling species. The only humans who are able to fight back are ones like Bill, who missed the meteor shower, due to being in hospital. As well as the Triffids, Bill has other enemies. Many humans wish to keep those who can see as their servants and will resort to great lengths to keep them captive. 

This is an exciting novel of what-ifs and many interesting twists and turns. First published in 1951, the novel has spawned film and radio adaptions and a television series.