When I signed up to receive Easton Press' Masterpieces of Science Fiction series, I did so for many reasons. The first is that I could just relax and other people would choose classic works of SF for me to read, and I would get them about once a month. The second was that these beautiful editions not only look great, they also seem like they'll last forever (also, it's much cheaper to buy them from the publisher than from the unscrupulous swindlers on ebay and other places).
But I knew that, eventually, ambulatory carnivorous plants had to be a part of it. Otherwise, what was the point? Well, that finally came to pass.
The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham is a great book. I will go out on a limb and say that, of the ones I've read in the series so far (at least of the ones that were new to me), it is the best. Yes, better than The Forever War, and much better than The Dispossessed. The only one that I liked more was Dune, but I'd already read it, so the journey trough the new edition was a very different one.
The reason it's a great book is probably that it was written in 1950. What this means is that the style is straightforward and unadorned, owing more to Hemingway than to James Joyce, which is always a good thing. But it is also a good book because it isn't just an adventure romp about post-apocalyptic people being hunted by very mean plants - it's also a reflection on the values held by the world of 1950 and an intelligent look at the way things would unfold after the castastrophes described. It is a book that shows how today's (or 1950's) mindless sheep in people suits would fare as opposed to flexible people willing to face the new reality.
Does it fall into the old "readers of SF are smart, misunderstood people who will one day rule the imbeciles" thought-process of so much early SF? Not as much as one would think. There's a tiny bit of it - perhaps showing the way hide-bound people fail horribly in the new conditions is a bit over the top - but it is realistic, not just wish-fulfillment.
I'm very glad I read this one. It shows that SF can be literate without being obscure and unreadable (yes, I know the Nobel judges aren't going to be considering books about man-eating plants any time soon), and can be action-packed while making an extremely strong statement about the human condition. Can we get back to this? Probably not. There's a reason that certain periods are referred to as "golden ages". Recommended.
In writing news, I got 280 words into a humorous fantasy short on Friday. Less than I hoped for, but better than zero!