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The Chrysalids by John Wyndham

The Chrysalids (original 1955; edition 1979)

by John Wyndham

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3,155891,778 (3.91)252
Title:The Chrysalids
Authors:John Wyndham
Info:Penguin Books (1979), Mass Market Paperback
Collections:Read in 2012, Read but unowned
Tags:dystopia, sci-fi, fiction, literature, children, young adult

Work details

The Chrysalids by John Wyndham (1955)

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» See also 252 mentions

English (89)  Dutch (1)  All languages (90)
Showing 1-5 of 89 (next | show all)
I first read this book as a teenager and after nearly 40 years it still wove the same spell over me. A MUST READ for any Science Fiction fan. ( )
  sundowneruk | Feb 2, 2016 |
read a lot of Wyndham in teh 70's as a teenager

remember reading this but not a lot about it

Read it again in 2016. Non of it rings a bell at all, so may not have read it before after all.

For some reason, it did not gell with me as much as Wyndham usually does.

Big Ship
21 February 2016

my sense is I was not quite as taken as "Triffids" which I have re-read since

Bid Ship

Jan 2016 ( )
  bigship | Jan 5, 2016 |
John Wyndham is often described in rather disparaging term as the main proponent of cosy catastrophe. This based on the allegation that his protagonists tend to be English middle class white males who are not much inconvenienced by the apocalypse, somehow continuing to live it up while the rest of the populace suffer. Having read three of his books I find that while the allegation is not entirely unwarranted it is also not quite fair. I hope to write more about this issue when I get around to reviewing [b: The Day of the Triffids|530965|The Day of the Triffids|John Wyndham|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1320530145s/530965.jpg|188517].

However, there can be no justification in calling The Chrysalids a cosy catastrophe or cosy anything. There is even a quote in the novel that addresses this issue:

“This isn't a nice cosy world for anyone—especially not for anyone that's different,' he said. 'Maybe you're not the kind to survive it, after all”

David Strorm, the telepathic protagonist and his telepathic friends certainly do not have a good time lording it up to anybody. They live in a rural region called Labrador ruled by fascistic religious zealots. In this post apocalypse world the “Tribulation” (nuclear holocaust) has caused wide spread mutations among all life forms, and mutations of any kind are regarded as blasphemies:

“And any creature that shall seem to be human, but is not formed thus is not human. It is neither man nor woman. It is blasphemy against the true Image of God, and hateful in the sight of God.”

Even minor ones like a small extra toe will lead to exile or death. The discovery of mental deviation (telepathy) practically causes panic among the ruling zealots and the telepaths are immediately regard as a threat to humanity and pursued.

While [b: The Day of the Triffids|530965|The Day of the Triffids|John Wyndham|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1320530145s/530965.jpg|188517] is Wyndham’s best known work, The Chrysalids is often cited as his best. It is not hard to see why. Beside being a fast paced thrilling story the underlying message of the story is also heartfelt. The book is clearly a metaphor for the plight of ethnic minorities and the disenfranchised. Compared to the other Wyndhams that I have read The Chrysalids is the most compassionate. The plea for tolerance is already evident early on in the book where the narrative focuses on a charming innocuous friendship between the outwardly normal David Strorm and a nice little girl called Sophie. Sophie is almost normal except for a small extra toe on each foot. Once her “deviancy” is discovered the friendship has to come to an abrupt end and she has to go on the run with her family.

The Chrysalids is a wonderful and highly readable little novel (around 200 pages). It reads a little like a YA book due to the age of the central characters, however, in spite of the fairly straightforward plot it is quite profound and moving. The prose is very nicely written, the narrative compelling and highly readable. This book can be an ideal gateway for new readers to the genre, and a must-read for fans of “old school” science fiction. ( )
1 vote apatt | Dec 26, 2015 |
Full disclosure: I read this book back in September, right before an unexpected and emergency hospitalization. Had my life followed its normal pattern, I would have reviewed it comprehensively at the time, but instead I'm coming to back to it more than two months later to clean up loose ends. What I do recollect is that I enjoyed the novel very much; there was greater character depth than the Wyndham I've read previously (Chocky, The Kraken Wakes), and both a realism and an urgency to the writing that really pushed me on. You could make a film of this book quite easily, even today, and it would have something significant to say about the lengths we go to demonize those "not like us." Wyndham's use of Christian zealotry, too, seems remarkably prescient (and unusually pointed) for something written in 1955.

Where the book falls down, a little, is in its ending, which comes thick, fast, and far too abruptly. Up to that point, however, it's a very affecting and engaging read. ( )
1 vote saroz | Dec 22, 2015 |
Such a great book! ( )
  ebethiepaige | Oct 20, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 89 (next | show all)
Wyndham lumbers his characters with some verbose, pompous speeches about human nature, but his points are still interesting and as relevant today as when he wrote the book in 1955. It's also a ripping adventure.
added by andyl | editThe Observer, Alice Fisher (Dec 7, 2008)

» Add other authors (24 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John Wyndhamprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Harrison, M. JohnIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Herring, MichaelCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Leger, PatrickIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lord, PeterCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Malcolm, GraemeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Powell, RobertNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Powers, Richard M.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Priest, ChristopherIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Salwowski, MarkCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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When I was quite small I would sometimes dream of a city -- which was strange because it began before I even knew what a city was.
There was the power of gods in the hands of children, we know: but were they MAD children, all of them quite mad?
The essential quality of life is living; the essential quality of living is change; change is evolution: and we are part of it.
No one would dream of mentioning [childbirth] openly until the inspector should have called to issue his certificate that it was a human baby in the true image. Should it unhappily turn out to violate the image and thus be ineligible for a certificate, everyone would continue to be unaware of it, and the whole regrettable incident would be deemed not to have occurred.
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Re-Birth is the US title of The Chrysalids.
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Book description
In the community of Waknuk it is believed mutants are the products of the Devil and must be stamped out. When David befriends a girl with a slight abnormality, he begins to understand the nature of fear and oppression. When he develops his own deviation, he must learn to conceal his secret.
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First pub. 1955. Science fiction takes place many centuries after a devastation nuclear war. Enclaves of life are cut off from one another by vast areas of radiation contamination.

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3 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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Penguin Australia

3 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141181478, 0141032979, 0141045434

NYRB Classics

An edition of this book was published by NYRB Classics.

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