Bill Masen and Josella Platon have survived the vicious triffids, mutant plants with a taste for human flesh and blood. Exhausted and desperate for safety, they are stranded in a ruined landscape of Southampton. Wistfully, they are waiting to escape to Isle of Wight, a new Eden, which has been cleared of triffids.
Their picnic is a moment of relaxation in the midst of unrelenting turmoil, but there is no mention of food or drink. “We went on a picnic in the sunshine,” writes Masen. “with a good stretch of shingle behind us over which no triffid could approach unheard.” Josella is pleased, and she says, “We must do more of this while we can.”
This episode is John Wyndham’s most hopeful note in The Day of the Triffids, his sci-fiction-eco novel about mutant plants, controlled in a laboratory but nasty and invasive elsewhere. According to Masen, the narrator, they are an unintended ecological disaster caused when seeds from a Russian genetic experiment are inadvertently spread world-wide. Adding injury is the effect of a cloud of comet debris raining bright green meteors, the light of which causes blindness to anyone who stares at it. The connection between the scattering of triffid seeds and the comet is coincidental, but the blindness causes panic and civilization breakdown.
Windham’s mix of catastrophe and the Cold War has made this a cult novel that has spawned three film adaptations (all without a picnic).
Featured Image: Wyndham’s image, The Reader’s Guide to The Day of the Triffids,
See John Wyndham. The Day of the Triffids. London: Michael Joseph, 1951; Freddie Francis, Steve Sekely. The Day of the Triffids (1963), Screenplay by Bernard Gordon and Philip Yordan is a very loose adaptation of Wyndham’s novel is n, without a picnic; Ken Hannam. The Day of the Triffids (1981). Screenplay by Douglas Livingstone based on Wyndham’s novel; Nick Copus. The Day of the Triffids (2009), Screenplay by Patrick Harbison based on Wyndham’s novel