Wednesday, May 15, 2013


The Day of the Triffids, John Wyndham, Doubleday & Company Inc, 1951, 216 pp

I first learned about this book through Jo Walton, whose heroine in Among Others read it, among many other books. (Here is a list.) Naturally I then kept coming across the title on blogs, etc. My husband saw me reading it and remembered seeing the movie. (1962, British film.)

The book is short. Pretty good 1950s science fiction. I was struck by the way Wyndham interwove ideas with the plot, but then realized that was the way it was done in most of the 1950s sci fi I have read. Some authors do it better than others; Asimov was the best but Wyndham is not bad.

The triffids are odd plants that can move. Somewhere just before I read the book, I came across an article (probably on the web) about trees that can "walk" by putting down roots ahead of them and letting go of roots behind them. Now I can't remember what they are or where I read it. The wonders of the reading life!
Triffids are carnivorous, except they kill people first with a poisonous sting, then eat them when they are fully dead. Technically they are carrion eaters which is actually more gross.

Otherwise The Day of the Triffids is about the aftermath of a planetwide disaster and the ways people figure out where to go from there. It was never exactly clear how the green flashes of light from a meteor shower were connected to the menace of the triffids. Nor was it clear where the triffids came from, though they became a menace when men began to farm them and use one of their byproducts for fuel. 

I see why it became a classic and how it influenced many later sci fi books. If you intend to be or are a writer of science fiction, you must read John Wyndham. But he is more than historically relevant. The Day of the Triffids is a good read.

(The Day of the Triffids is available in paperback and eBook by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)


  1. Isn't there another story with characters with names like Triffid, but they look like little bunnies? I feel like I know (knew?) about both of these, but confused them. Are the Triffids alien plants, or are they natural earth plants?

  2. JoanneMarie Faust! Reappears!! I lost track of your blog some years ago and now here you are showing up on mine. How the heck are you? I have to go read all your posts since I last was there which will probably take me days.
    Anyway, I did a google search. Couldn't find anything about a triffid that looked like a bunny. These triffids are plants of unknown origin suspected to be alien. As I said, it is never made clear in the book where they came from. If you find the triffids that look like bunnies, do let me know.

  3. I'm doing well, Judy! I wasn't sure if you would remember me. How exciting that you did. I've been kicking myself since I missed the deadline to keep the original blog up and running. I'm trying to get up and rolling again. We shall see how it goes. I'm so out of practice with my writing, that I wonder how I managed to find all the time it takes to really blog well.

    I'm going to have to go in search of triffids as compared to little bunny things, which probably just have a similar name.

  4. Writing is like exercising. Always hard to start up again once you stop. I am sure you will do fine. Let me know what you find out about triffids vs bunnies. Maybe it is a Beatrix Potter thing?
    Anyway, so great to be connected again!

  5. Have you seen The Lizzie Bennet Diaries on You Tube? I didn't discover them until they were almost over, but I did contribute to the kickstarter campaign to put them out on dvd, I loved them so much. Part of the story is that Mr. Darcy owns a digital communications company called Pemberley Digital. Once the LBD videos ended, they picked up again a few weeks ago with Sanditon. In today's episode, one of the characters is watching a BBC mini-series of The Day of the Triffids, and of course, I thought of you.

  6. I love that! And I will check out the LBD videos. Thanks.