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The Chrysalids (New York Review Books Classics) Paperback – November 18, 2008
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"John Wyndham’s The Chrysalids anticipates and surpasses many of today’s dystopian thrillers….The Chrysalids explores intolerance and bigotry with satisfying complexity as it races toward an ending that is truly unpredictable." —The Seattle Times
"One of the most thoughtful post-apocalypse novels ever written. Wyndham was a true English visionary, a William Blake with a science doctorate." -- David Mitchell
"Sometimes you just need a bit of soft-core sci-fi, and Wyndham’s 1950’s classic, newly back in print, fully delivers." --Thicket Magazine
"It is quite simply a page-turner, maintaining suspense to the very end and vividly conjuring the circumstances of a crippled and menacing world, and of the fear and sense of betrayal that pervade it. The ending, a salvation of an extremely dubious sort, leaves the reader pondering how truly ephemeral our version of civilization is..." --The Boston Globe
“[Wyndham] was responsible for a series of eerily terrifying tales of destroyed civilisations; created several of the twentieth century's most imaginative monsters; and wrote a handful of novels that are rightly regarded as modern classics.” –The Observer (London)
“Science fiction always tells you more about the present than the future. John Wyndham's classroom favourite might be set in some desolate landscape still to come, but it is rooted in the concerns of the mid-1950s. Published in 1955, it's a novel driven by the twin anxieties of the cold war and the atomic bomb…Fifty years on, when our enemy has changed and our fear of nuclear catastrophe has subsided, his analysis of our tribal instinct is as pertinent as ever.” –The Guardian (London)
“[A]bsolutely and completely brilliant…The Chrysalids is a top-notch piece of sci-fi that should be enjoyed for generations yet to come.” –The Ottawa Citizen
“John Wyndham's novel The Chrysalids is a famous example of 1950s Cold War science fiction, but its portrait of a community driven to authoritarian madness by its overwhelming fear of difference - in this case, of genetic mutations in the aftermath of nuclear war - finds its echoes in every society.” –The Scotsman
“The Chrysalids comes heart-wrenchingly close to being John Wyndham's most powerful and profound work.” –SFReview.net
“Re-Birth (The Chrysalids) was one of the first science fiction novels I read as a youth, and several times tempted me to take a piggy census. Returning to it now, more than 30 years later, I find that I remember vast parts of it with perfect clarity…a book to kindle the joy of reading science fiction. –SciFi.com
“A remarkably tender story of a post-nuclear childhood…It has, of course, always seemed a classic to most of its three generations of readers...It has become part of a canon of good books.” –The Guardian, September 15, 2000
About the Author
Christopher Priest has published eleven novels, three short-story collections, and a number of other books, including critical works, biographies, novelizations, and children’s nonfiction. In 1996 Priest won the World Fantasy Award and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for his novel The Prestige. His most recent novel, The Separation, won both the Arthur C. Clarke Award and the British Science Fiction Association Award.
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Top Customer Reviews
What most impressed me was the author's ability to set up atmosphere in the novel. I still to this day, after years between readings remember images I formed while reading the novel. Grass between the toes, the nuclear wastes, the way the children formed telepathic images etc...
One thing that I remember clearly is how the novel was like a breath of fresh air, clean and smooth. There are no frilly edges and there is no attempt by the author to make the book flashy. This makes the book pure and adds to the impact of the story.
As an overview, there are a group of children who are living in Eastern Canada after some type of holocaust (this is never much of a point in the book... no one has memories of it). Their society is strongly anti-mutant with a very strict set of rules as to what is "normal" and what isn't. All of this children are normal looking but are telepathic and form a click of just a small number.
The book is their story of growing up and existing in this paranoid and highly dogmatic society without being discovered and banished or killed.
A definite classic in Science Fiction circles.
Genetic variations and mutations, now commonplace (no doubt as a result of higher worldwide radiation levels), are seen as evil. "Deviant" crops and animals are burnt. Humans with even the most minor mutations from their highest religious ideal, a physical norm which the community calls God's "True Image", are labeled as blasphemies and are killed outright or banished to eke out their future existence in a wildly savage outlying area called "The Fringes".
When the community discovers that David and Rosalind together with a small group of other young people have developed the ability to communicate telepathically, they are forced to flee for their lives. They are re-united with their friend Sophie, earlier banished to the Fringes for the disgusting aberration of having six toes instead of the normal five. David's younger sister, Petra, able to communicate her thoughts with a power and at a distance far beyond any of the other children discovers the presence of others like them in a distant community who mount a campaign to rescue the children from their persecutors.
In "The Chrysalids", John Wyndham has mounted a vicious attack on religious fundamentalism, bigotry, intolerance and narrow-mindedness.Read more ›
I was surprised to see that it's marketed to the 9-12 age group. It's a very precocious pre-teen who would be able to get all the sociological, moral, philosophical and political implications of the plot.
The story is narrated by David Strorm, who's about 10 when it begins and around 18 or 20 at the end. David lives in Labrador, centuries after "God sent Tribulation" unto mankind. The 21st century reader soon realizes Tribulation was a nuclear conflict that lay waste to every Western country south of Canada and north of New Zealand. Pockets of humanity do survive in Africa and elsewhere, but all those survivor communities are totally isolated from each other because the radio-activity in what was the USA, Western Europe and the Soviet block precludes land or sea travel (though there is some limited navigation and trading) and communication.
The community David belongs to is a very strait-laced one, who insists on "purity" and conformity to the "True Image". Every deviation (i.e. mutation due to radiation) in either human, animal or plant is rooted out mercilessly. Plants and animals are burned, people get sent to the savage, untamed "Fringes". Physical deviation, that is. The powers-that-be don't realize that a group of children have developed telepathy.Read more ›
David are Rosalind try to teach Petra to hide her abilities. But Petra communicates to someone outside their area. In a place that none of the other children have heard of. A place where there are many people with the ability to communicate through thought-shapes. A place where the children would not be considered different or a Mutant.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I first read this book as a teenager in high school for literature class and I'm re-reading it as a 36 year old adult. Read morePublished 19 days ago by Neola
These are merely some of the words that I can use to describe this work of literary art. Read more
Of all the older books I have read, this is by far my favorite. It's almost like reading poetry. A little hard to understand at time but beautiful. The story line is so involving. Read morePublished 2 months ago by 224perweek
Interesting read. I found it engrossing and the subject matter is fascinating. I think young adults would enjoy it too a la Hunger Games but with more interesting themes. Read morePublished 4 months ago by D. Applebee
If you have watched John Carpenter's "Village of the Damned" (starring Christopher Reeves), this is the book that is based on. Read morePublished 5 months ago by ClockworkXon
Wyndham's work holds up incredibly well. An inventive mind a crisp, dry writing approach combine to make this a pleasure
to read after all these years, not something you can... Read more
The imagery is amazing, the characters are believable, the story is compelling, the underlying lessons about life are spelled out here: Life is cruel, religious people are... Read morePublished 5 months ago by james
Wyndham completely lost me at the end, in two ways. One, I have nothing but contempt for those who would harm others in the name of Progress, and Two, Action/Combat in novels bores... Read morePublished 5 months ago by ReasonableGoatPerson