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On The Day of the Triffids

Found in Galaxy, August 1951. Review by Geoff Conklin. Counter-argument by posterity.

The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham
Doubleday and Co., New York, 1951.
222 pages. $2.50.

One of the minor miracles - connected with this Collier's serial by science fiction's old British friend, John Beynon Harris, is the fact that anyone familiar with the Harris of the early '30s will wonder how the Harris of the '50s could have learned how to write in so workmanlike a fashion.

As a story, the current opus is what you'd call a good run-of-the-mill affair, not the worst by any means, but also not the best, of the long literature of World Catastrophe tales. It deals with the invention (or development) of some horrid Triffids, and the coincidental occurrence of a display of incredible heavenly fireworks all around the world that makes everyone who looked at them permanently blind.

Conflict: the struggles of the tiny handful of those who did not see the fireworks, and who consequently still have vision, to survive the combined horrors of great gobs of people dying all over the place, and great masses of sentient vegetables trying to attack all humans they can lay their poisonous "whips" on.

The coincidence is not quite as great as it sounds, since '"Wyndham'* suggests that the phenomena are secret war weapons - the Triffids are escapees from a Russian botanical laboratory, the fireworks the result of a cosmic accident to one of the "Earth satellite vehicles" which the competing Great Powers have thrown up above the atmosphere in swift death orbits.

Oh, well, it hasn't happened yet. Meanwhile, you will find some pleasant reading in this book, provided you aren't out hunting science fiction masterpieces.