The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

For years, humans have been cultivating a mysterious species of plant called the triffid because the oil and juice extracted from the plant make excellent cattle feed and are profitable for business. The origins of the seven-foot-high triffids are obscure, but the plant appears to have been the result of human biological experimentation. After their first appearance, triffids quickly spread all over the world and also developed the ability to pull up their roots and walk. They possess a venomous sting that is often fatal to humans. A few people even believe the plants are intelligent and able to communicate with one another.

Narrator William Masen, a biologist and triffid expert, is recovering in the hospital from a triffid sting to the eyes. He awakes one morning to an eerie silence. Removing his eye bandages, he leaves his room to investigate and discovers that everyone in the hospital is blind. He goes outside and sees blind people creeping along the streets.

The cause of the near-universal blindness is obvious. The previous day, a comet apparently passed near Earth, and the debris from it filled the sky with bright green flashes. Almost everyone watched the greatest-ever fireworks display, with disastrous results.

As he traverses the city, Masen rescues a young sighted woman, Josella Playton, from the clutches of a blind man. Masen sees triffids on the prowl and decides to leave London. He and Playton join a group of mostly...

(The entire section is 574 words.)