The Day of the Triffids (1951)
Spine Front Cover Book Details
John Wyndham
Publication Date 2002
Format Leather-bound (225 x 145 mm)
Publisher The Easton Press
Genre Science Fiction
Product Details
Series Masterpieces of Science Fiction
No. of Pages 222
Paper Type Acid-neutral paper
First Edition No
Personal Details
URL This book on
Rating 9
No. of Reviews 44
Frontispiece/Illustrator Richard Powers
Introduction/Foreward Marshal B. Tymn
Original Details
Original Publisher Doubleday
Original Publication Year 1951
The night the sky broke out in mysterious green flashes, all but a few people on Earth were blinded. The world went mad. Ordinary folk became animals, turning on one another in terror and desperation. Bill Masen was one of a handful who struggled to preserve a shred of civilization amidst the chaos. But chaos soon became the least of mankind's problems. Walking plants were appearing -- plants that fed on the bodies of their human prey. The triffids had arrived, and it was up to Bill Masen to stop them!

The father of the disaster novel, John Wyndham is frequently compared to H.G.
Collector's Notes

The catastrophe story was old long before science fiction developed out of 19th-century recognition of man-made change produced by science and technology. Legends of worldwide destruction can be found in every culture, perhaps relating to natural phenomena - floods, droughts, plagues, fires - that may, indeed, have threatened the pre carious existence of early humanity. We see them reflected in the Biblical story of The Flood, and even in the passages describing Armageddon, the Second Coming, and Judgment Day.

In the hands of science-fiction writers, catastrophe took on new reality, as science - and the writers who plumbed it for ideas - came up with ways in which the world or humanity might really be destroyed. The French astronomer Camille Flammarion, and after him H. G. Wells, imagined a collision, or near-collision, with another planet; the American science reporter Garrett P. Service created a new Flood when Earth passed through a watery nebula; Wells imagined invasion by Martians; and today, scientists and SF writers consider the possibilities of nuclear war, bombardment by comets, runaway viruses, pollution, overpopulation, the greenhouse effect.

The question the writers, and their readers, are concerned about is not so much the way the Earth might end, though such visions always have cautionary aspects, but the way people will respond in the face of imminent destruction. In moments of overwhelming crisis, we have our keenest and truest glimpses into the mysteries of the human heart, and our best tests of what is essential and what is ephemeral in human civilization.

The catastrophe story had a great vogue after Wells brought it so firmly into the science-fiction tradition with The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds, and they never were completely absent from the magazines that became the principal purveyor of such stories after the founding of Amazing Stories in 1926. But they had diminished in numbers considerably by the time John Wyndham published The Day of the Triffids in Collier's in 1951, and that novel not only was tremendously successful, becoming a best seller and a big-budget 1963 film, but also launched a new era of catastrophe novels based on unusual ways in which the world or human life might end.

Wyndham's method was ingenious: carnivorous plants made deadly by great size and the ability to move from one place to another, combined with the near-universal blindness of the human survivors, brought on by a meteor shower. The idea of groping one's way through the ruins of civilization was a striking contemporary nightmare; the Triffids were the final, dramatic threat to human survival.

Few readers would have predicted such an accomplishment from the British pulp writer of the 1930s and 1940s, whose full name was John Wyndham Parkes Lucas Beynon Harris, and who wrote under different arrangements of his names until his 1951 breakthrough. After The Day of the Triffids, however, he became one of the best-read SF writers in the world, producing The Kraken Wakes (1953), The Chrysalids (1955), The Midwich Cuckoos (1957), filmed in 1960 as Village of the Damned, Jizzle (1954), The Seeds of Time (1956), and others until his death in 1969.

His example also may have contributed to the growing acceptance of science fiction in the slick magazines, the gradual movement of science fiction onto the best-seller lists, and the development of science fiction into what may have become the most popular category of contemporary popular fiction.

A special introduction to The Day of the Triffids has been commissioned by The Easton Press from Marshall Tymn, professor of English at Eastern Michigan University. He is a noted scholar and bibliographer in the science-fiction field, has created and taught work shops on the teaching of science fiction, edits The Year's Scholarship in Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Literature, and is president of the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts.