A different type of blog post today – I want to tell you about a book that inspired me as a child and still inspires me as an adult. In some ways this book was ahead of its time in genetic modification and the impact it can have on the human race, and I recommend you read it. I present to you… The Day of the Triffids.
Published in the early 1950s, this novel was written by British science fiction author John Wyndham. It was his first book under that pen name, and became his most famous one, playing a major part in establishing him as a writer. Even though written as a fiction novel, the story does provide insight on the social needs of humans, as well as the conflict of morality versus survival.
The book is written in the third person, and follows the events taking place in the life of William Mason. The narrator details his struggles in a world which is plagued by the Triffids, which are a highly intelligent, mobile plant species which threatens humans with their aggressive tendencies. To make survival more difficult, most of the people on earth are suddenly struck blind during a suspicious green meteorite shower.
The novel begins when the narrator wakes up in the hospital with the instinctive feeling that something is wrong. As a biologist he worked with the menacing Triffids and, in what would appear as a stroke of luck, was admitted after being exposed to their poisonous secretions. His eyes were bandaged during the spectacle allowing him to retain his sight. He leaves the hospital and begins a journey through the city of London where the majority of the population can no longer see.
The first person he forms a bond with is Josella, whom he rescues from a blind man that is using her as his eyes. Together they discover, and join, a group of other sighted survivors who are planning to create a colony outside the city. Their leader, Beadley, has unconventional ideas about creating a polygamous society, which are being challenged by other community members. Before this can be resolved many of the members, including Bill and Josella, are kidnapped and forced to become guides with another group. They are separated and each sighted individual is chained to a blind one, so that they can seek out food and supplies together.
Bill eventually gets released from the community, when its leader has a change of heart, and goes in search of Josella. When he finds her at friend’s house, they become the leaders of a new community of both blind and sighted individuals. The menace from their plant enemies continues, and they find creative ways of dealing with the threats.
A new government regime establishes itself and, after a few years, the military attempts to relocate their entire colony. William finds a way to trick them and flees to the Isle of Wight to join with their original community leader, Beadley. The story ends with the promise that they will retake the earth from this biological terrorists, the Triffids, which William will play a major role in because of his former occupation as a biologist.