Classic Science Fiction: 'Day of the Triffids' is dated but haunting

Despite showing its age, John Wyndham's Day of the Triffids continues to be a consuming post-apocalyptic tale.

A hit since its 1951 publication, I first read John Wyndham's landmark story of a post-apocalyptic England sometime in the mid 1980s. This was the very first book I found at Santa Monica's A Change of Hobbit, one of my earliest science fiction reads. I had not thought of it in years and couldn't recall having re-read it.

I would say I had a hard time putting the book down, but other things have kept me exhausted. I did eagerly look forward to opening it every chance I got and could be found taking every spare moment away from life's daily catastrophes to read til I was done. I love it when books do that for me.

Wyndham's tale is one of England after a cosmic event blinds 99% of humanity. With humanity sightless, a semi-sentient plant challenges man for the role of apex predator! Naturally, humanity is more its own enemy than the plants.

I was impressed with how believable the world building and set-up was for what, in 1951, was such an outlandish tale. I know various folks accused Wyndham of borrowing heavily from others, but this story inspired a LOT of subsequent fiction. The triffids are wonderfully thought out.

The early 1950s gender and race relations come thru pretty strong in the book. Reading this now, living in a time where it seems 27% or so of the United States seems to want to go back to this, was kind of disturbing. Simple things like the narrator's odd-to-me response upon realizing the woman he'd been spending time with had a career or the author's requirement that career only have been possible due to her gender.

While the ideas of space-plants and cosmic debris blinding humanity were thrilling in my formative reading days, now I found comparing the social structures of the cooperative societies springing up in this 1950s time-capsule to be super interesting. Just before the Space Age and only slightly after the dawn of computing as we know it, this novel was created during a time some folks seem to regard as particularly great. The sexism grated on me.

I certainly enjoyed spending some time with a novel that inspired so many others.

As I read on an e-reader, I found my copy via my local library and the handy Libby app! Amazon has the novel in just about every format.

The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham via Amazon