The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham
Bill was in a London hospital when the green meteors came. A poisonous walking triffid plant had tried to kill him. Some of the poison got into his eyes. So he was swathed in bandages during the startling, wondrous fireworks show. The next day, no one woke him up. No one brought breakfast. The staff did not respond to his call. Finally, he removed the bandages himself and started looking for people. He found them. They were blind. Everybody was blind.
He quickly learned that anyone who had seen the green meteor shower was now blind. No reason was known; that didn’t change the facts. Bill went out into a changed London. The electricity and phone power went off almost immediately. People were out wandering the streets trying to come to terms with what happened and trying to find food. Most of the population could not see, could not cope.
The triffid plants quickly learned to take advantage of the situation. They were carnivorous and knew how to sting a man to death. Bill had worked on a triffid farm before the disaster, so knew how to deal with them. Many a blind person fell before the triffids. If they were able to avoid the plants, they still had to discover how to survive.
This is Bill’s chronicle. He describes his life after he woke up in the hospital. He was one of a tiny percentage of people who could still see. He also had to learn to survive and to find others who could see. He also wanted to help the blind, yet quickly learned he could not save all of them. He learned he not only had to survive a holocaust, but also survive the poisonous plants, the sighted men who wanted to take over, and the blind men who were jealous. He also knew he could not survive alone.
This is classic “what if the world as we know it suddenly comes to an end?” science fiction. It was originally published in 1951, yet wears its age well. Since most of the action is after the catastrophe, technology was of no use, so not a major role of the book. Human reactions and emotions stay the same over decades and centuries. This is an excellent story. The triffids can send chills up your spine. Are they sentient? Are they aware? Are they going to take over the world? Once more, it is the survival of the fittest. Will that be mankind or plantkind?