And so I finally read Wyndham's most famous novel, after reading most of his other novels first, hoping it would live up to my high expectations. Although having read his other work I've already seen he can be somewhat variable in quality.
Things are not looking good for humanity here. To start with nearly everybody's gone blind, then there's a mysterious plague sweeping the population and to top it all off, the triffids are on the loose stinging and devouring all who they can. Our protagonist Bill is fortunately in hospital with his eyes bandaged preventing him from seeing the cosmic display that blinded almost everyone else and at first his main problem is avoiding being snagged in the street by roaming blind people desperate to leash a sighted person to get food for them. Eventually conditions deteriorate further and Bill is separated from his beloved Josellyn and flees London looking for somewhere to set up a new life.
Initially the triffids aren't so much of a problem and seem almost incidental to the main story but increasingly they are a menace to the survivors as their numbers start to swell and they take over the country. Just how intelligent these carnivorous plants really are the reader is left to ponder, did they merely take advantage of the situation to prey on mankind or did they somehow instigate events? Or perhaps humankind was merely reaping what it sew, got its just deserts for its follies?
Quite a lot of issues were considered here. Just how much should responsibility for attempting to help the overwhelming numbers of blind people did the few remaining sighted have? How much can (or should) we cling on to our habits and moral values in the light of drastically altered social conditions? What sort of society should we attempt to construct from the ashes of the old?
And enjoyable and thought provoking read although falls short of being a masterpiece in my opinion because of a few minor quibbles I had. But all in all, well worth reading.