Day of the Triffids ( John Wyndham)

Posted by Sam Hayes On Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I've just finished reading the sci-fi novel 'Day of the Triffids' by John Wyndham and I thought it was worth a post as it is a fantastic apocalyptic story. First published in 1951 it centres around a man named Bill Masen, a bio-chemist who awakes in hospital to find almost everybody in the country (If not the world) blinded by a 'comet shower'. Bill was one of the only people to retain his sight as he had just come out of an eye operation after being stung by a 'Triffid'; a large carnivorous plant which is able to move.

After realising the predictiment he is in, Bill embarks on a journey of survival as well as attempting to re-build a life after this catastrophe. The reason I really liked Wyndham's plot is because of the harshness and brutality of the story. Explaining the complete despair, confusion and suffering that most of the population experiences after their sight is taken away. The story is not centered around the deadly plants, but rather the state of the country and the apocalyptic happenings. The Triffids are very secondary to the plot and really only come into main focus near the end of the book. The events throughout include suicides, disease, starvation as well as questions of religion and feminism. The scope of the book is amazing. Bill sets out to find a woman he meets and looses shortly after the catastrophe happens; Josella. The book was turned into a BBC radio series in 1957.

Coincidenally, there was a BBC adaptation of the book in two-parts which started last night and concluded today. I had no idea this was being aired until it was advertised a couple of hours before it was on. Luckily, I was only about 20 pages from the end of the book, so I finished it and looked forward to the series.

The BBC remake, was in my opinion a great attempt at conveying the book. Adaptations into TV and movies always seem to miss the mark, but in this case I thought it was very well done. As this was a modern re-invisioned version of the novel,  there were a few changes, such as the Triffids being used as Oil to solve 'Global Warming'. A main part of the plot that was changed was introducing the character of  'Torrence', played by Eddie Izzard. The character only features in the book briefly, as a un-named villain (Until the final few pages) but in the drama he is a main character who influences the plot and creates even more mayhem. I understand why they expanded the character, as it made a quicker paced story and gave a villain to it. Bill's father also appears in the series, whereas in the book, he was killed in an Airplane crash years before the incidents.

The Triffids themselves were also just as I imagined them, although they seem a little more deadly in the series, having vines which can drag humans away, whereas in the book they could just shoot the odd venomous spike and slash with their sting. They are still shown as quite slow-moving plants, but still very dangerous. Although the Triffids are the base to the story they aren't the main focus of the drama, like the book, it is more of a apocalyptic story which they feature in.

I recommend the book to everyone, there are so many small details and sub-plots that it keeps the whole story very interesting. I have a large collection of Philip K. Dick novels to read, he is a science fiction author who wrote books such as Minority Report, A Scanner Darkly and Blade Runner. I'm going to give 'Do Androids Dream of Sheep' a read, hopefully it won't go too far over my head.

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I'm a student studying CG Arts and Animation at the University for the Creative Arts, I'm living in Kent.

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