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The Chrysalids

by John Wyndham

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
3,9501032,283 (3.91)1 / 298
Genetic mutation has devastated the world and a bleak, primitive society has emerged from its ruins ; a society which punishes any deviation from rigid norms.Ten-year-old David is having strange dreams about a mysterious city. But in his ultra-religious village of Waknut, all abnormality is abhorred, and he soon realizes that differences can be very dangerous indeed.… (more)
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  3. 30
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1950s (149)

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English (105)  German (1)  All languages (106)
Showing 1-5 of 105 (next | show all)
Science fiction for me is always a fairly hit or miss affair. I have tried H G Wells and not really been that impressed, so when I saw this book I thought I would give it a try but the expectations were fairly low. I couldn't have been more wrong.

The Chrysalids is set in the future following what can only be assumed as some sort of nuclear holocaust. Society has reverted back to one controlled by religion when both the Bible and a newly mantra dictates the lives of everyday people. Although life has managed to survive the radiation, it is not without difficulties and people are now living in an almost middle ages existence with minimal technological advances. The biggest issue faced in the effect of the radiation, which continually creates 'mutants' whereby plants and animals deviate from the norm, this can be from something as simple as an extra toe to gargantuan abnormalities. Anything found to differ is shunned by society and either destroyed or exiled. A group of children soon learn that being different is life threatening and must hide their 'abnormality' - a telepathic ability to communicate with each other over distances. How long can this secret be kept, and what are the consequences of its exposure.

I loved this book, and it really was so much more than your run of the mill scifi, the plot was realistic and the prose so well written you can see why this is earning the status classic. Real life issues are not glossed over and the story is as much a study of religion and eugenics as it is of a futuristic planet. It seems as fresh today as any other book released despite being written in 1955. ( )
  Bridgey | Mar 9, 2021 |
So many modern themes, if you really consider the impact of genetic testing and consequences of that. ( )
  Vividrogers | Dec 20, 2020 |
A group of telepathic children grow up in a post apocalyptic society where genetic purity and the eradication of mutants are primary values.

Well paced picture of David becoming more aware of the nature of his society and the danger he is in as he grows up. ( )
  Robertgreaves | Nov 25, 2020 |
An interesting novel because it envisions a post-apocalyptic world--presumably the apocalypse was a nuclear war, there were many such books written in the mid to late 1950s that is both devastated and also healing. The story follows a group of youngsters through early adulthood; outwardly, they are "standard" humans but they are all linked by telepathy, which is discovered eventually, leading to conflict. Wyndham offers hope, but the bearer of that hope is also a fatalist who believes that all things, good as well as bad, pass in time. ( )
  nmele | Jul 17, 2020 |
With this novel Wyndham abandons his contemporary-documentary settings and style and tells a future-post-nuclear-holocaust tale instead - and wow! What a difference!

In contrast to a rather dry telling of a tale in which there is little by way of incident, if possibly a lot by way of thought-provocation, as can be found in The Midwich Cuckoos or Trouble with Lichen, this is a story with much in the vein of adventure story but also a message about religion, (in)tolerance and differences between people - visible or otherwise. Every human grouping in the book (and there are several) claims the moral high-ground but in my view none of them really has sound ethics. Once again Wyndham brings to the fore his rather weak understanding of evolutionary theory but this only detracts slightly from the book, as it is a minor theme raised only near the end.

The fact that this novel generates excitement and pace - becomes difficult to put down in the second half - and has themes not based on spurious extrapolation of Darwinian evolution makes this easily and by far the best of the Wyndham books I've re-read in the last year or so. Day of the Triffids and Chocky remain in the to-read pile. ( )
  Arbieroo | Jul 17, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 105 (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 (22 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Wyndham, Johnprimary 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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Wikipedia in English (1)

Genetic mutation has devastated the world and a bleak, primitive society has emerged from its ruins ; a society which punishes any deviation from rigid norms.Ten-year-old David is having strange dreams about a mysterious city. But in his ultra-religious village of Waknut, all abnormality is abhorred, and he soon realizes that differences can be very dangerous indeed.

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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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Average: (3.91)
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2 36
2.5 8
3 182
3.5 85
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4.5 50
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NYRB Classics

An edition of this book was published by NYRB Classics.

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Penguin Australia

3 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141181478, 0141032979, 0141045434

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