The Chrysalids Paperback
by John Wyndham
Part of the Penguin Modern Classics series
A powerful post-apocalyptic allegory of persecution and intolerance, the Penguin Modern Classics edition of John Wyndham's science fiction masterpiece The Day of the Triffids contains an introduction by M.
John Harrison. Nuclear war has devastated the world, bringing with it a host of genetic mutations.
In the bleak, primitive society that has emerged from its ruins, any sign of deviation, no matter how small, is ruthlessly rooted out and destroyed.
David lives in fear of discovery, for he is part of a secret group of children who are able to communicate with each other by transferring thought-shapes into each other's minds.
As they grow older, they feel increasingly isolated.
Then one of them marries a 'norm', with terrifying consequences. John Wyndham (1903-1969) the son of a barrister, tried a number of careers including farming, law, commercial art and advertising before writing short stories, intended for sale, in 1925.
After serving in the Civil Service and the Army during the Second World War, he decided to try writing a modified form of Science Fiction, which he called 'logical fantasy'. Among his most famous books are The Day of the Triffids (1951), The Kraken Wakes (1953), The Chrysalids (1955), The Midwich Cuckoos (1957, filmed twice as Village of the Damned), Trouble with Lichen (1960), and Chocky (1968).
If you enjoyed The Chrysalids, you might like Arthur Miller's The Crucible, also available in Penguin Modern Classics. 'One of those few authors whose compulsive readability is a compliment to the intelligence' Spectator
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 208 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
- Publication Date: 03/02/2000
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9780141181479
Showing 1 - 3 of 3 reviews.
Review by brianclegg
According to a sticker on the spine this was my second favourite book when I was 13, and I can understand why. Wyndham's story of post-apocalyptic attempts to keep mutants from humanity through religious fervour hasn't dated at all and still enthralls.
Review by DeltaQueen50
I first read The Chrysalids by John Wyndham many years ago as a student, and about all I retained from then was the feeling that I really liked the book. My re-read has confirmed that, yes, I do really like this book. On so many levels this story of life after the nuclear holocaust is well done, imaginative and leaves us with many questions to ponder.Very subtly written, with religious overtones, I can see why this book was chosen for students to read. Instead of laying out his opinions, the author gently sets the scene and lets his reader reach his or her own opinion. Questions of what is normal, how much direct truth can we take from the bible, and why do we, as humans, cling to bigotry and cruelty are all part of this story.A group of young people living in a strait-laced rural community are different. Their difference is not evident to the naked eye. They can communicate by thoughts. People, animals and crops that are not “normal” are considered deviants and while the animals and crops are destroyed, the people are sterilized and sent to live in a wild area called The Fringe. Eventually some of the thought-senders are discovered, tortured and made to reveal the identity of others. Our three main characters manage to flee to the Fringe, but do not find safety there either. One thought sender, is able to send her thoughts half-way around the world and manages to contact people that are like them. Well written though slightly dated, I was totally caught up in the story. I find it interesting that not all was neatly wrapped up at the end of the book. If The Chrysalids were to be written today, I’m sure it would be the first part of a YA trilogy. When John Wyndham wrote it back in the fifties, he wisely ended the story and allowed his audience to reach their own conclusions.
Review by AHS-Wolfy
What's it like to be different from the norm? That's the question that David, a young boy growing up in a post-apocalyptic community along with a few others like him, must answer and they must keep their difference secret from the rest of their families, friends and neighbours or risk banishment to the Fringes, a wild area where day-to-day living is more than hard and survival almost an impossibility. This community believes that they must stay pure and any deviance from that purity is harshly dealt with. Crops and animals are burnt while mutant humans are banished with the females firstly being sterilised to avoid spreading contamination. Outwardly, David and those like him appear no different to everyone else. They don't have six toes or an extra arm or other obvious signs of deviation and so are accepted within the community. Unlike the rest they can communicate non-verbally and as they grow up learning off each other they begin to question the rightness of the community's belief. How long can they keep the secret and what will they do if discovered?Events come to a head when David's younger sister develops the same ability only much stronger than any of them. She even manages to communicate with others of their kind who live in a far away land which is not only free from persecution but their abilities are valued and seen as a progression on the evolutionary scale. Do they try to stay hidden within the community that they've grown up in or should they try somehow to reach this other place which will allow them to be who they really are?An excellent post-apocalyptic story which highlights man's willingness to revert to intolerance of differences and to act brutally and with cruelty to those that threaten the status quo.