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The Chrysalids Paperback – November 1, 1993

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Carroll & Graf Pub (November 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786700416
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786700417
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 4.2 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (193 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,844,427 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Perfect timing, astringent humour ... One of the few authors whose compulsive readability is a compliment to the intelligence Spectator Remains fresh and disturbing in an entirely unexpected way Guardian --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Joyce Stewart is from Barbados. She has taught English at a secondary level for 35 years; she currently teaches at the University of the West Indies. John Wyndham Parkes Lucas Benyon Harris, to use his full name, was born in a village, then part of Warwickshire, on July 10 1903, the son of a barrister. He lived first in Knowle and then in Edgbaston until his parents seperated when he was eight years old. After that he moved around the country with his mother and brother, the writer Vivian Benyon Harris. After a private school education, John tried his hand at several jobs including farming, the law, art and advertising. He began writing science fiction stories, influenced by the work of H G Wells, under the names John Benyon, John Benyon Harris and Wyndham Parkes. He eventually found a niche for his work in American magazines. In the mid 1930s he had his work published in British magazines, particularly in Tales of Wonder, the first British science fiction magazine published between 1937 and 1942, and in book form. During the Second World War he joined the army and worked as a censor. He also saw action with the Royal Signals in France. It took him some time to return to writing after the war but when he did he found great success with possibly his best known work, The Day of the Triffids (1951) which describes the invasion of Earth by strange plants. It was soon regarded a classic of the science fiction genre and others followed, The Kraken Wakes in 1953, The Chrysalids in 1955 and of course The Midwich Cuckoos in 1957. In 1963, at the age of 60, he married Grace Wilson but died six years later, on March 11 1969. The following day The New York Times said in an obituary: "John Wyndham did more than any other British writer since H G Wells to make science fiction popular in this country." Critics ascribed his success to the fact that his plots, however fantastic, were characterised by inventiveness, clarity and a profound sympathy for mankind in the nuclear age. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

It has been 8 years since I last read this book as a grade 10 student.
Anthony C
Likely, readers will predict how the book ends; however, the writer's punch is in leaving the reader uncertain about what happens after the last page.
The Chrysalids is a great read, well written and absorbing, a true classic in science fiction, and probably in fiction in general.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

62 of 66 people found the following review helpful By Travis Cottreau on December 16, 1999
Format: Paperback
I read this book for the first time in highschool years ago and re-read it again since.
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.
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46 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Paul Weiss on January 1, 2007
Format: Paperback
At a time in some unspecified distant future after a nuclear war has left much of the world a barren, poisonous wasteland, David Strorm, Sophie Wender and Rosalind Morton live in Waknuk, a small agriculturally focused community in central Labrador. With modern technology yet to be re-invented, the strict religious fundamental beliefs of this still primitive community label the apocalypse as "Tribulation", a punishment visited by God upon the "old people" for their sins.

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.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Kisminette on October 26, 2006
Format: Paperback
"Don't judge a book by its cover" is absolutely right, I have rarely seen a more repellent (and irrelevant to the story) picture than the one currently "gracing" the cover of this wonderful book. Thank goodness, I had read it years ago, under a different cover and a different title, because as it is presented now I would never have bought it and would have missed a great story, one that I enjoy re-reading again and again.

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.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Stephanie Toland on January 17, 2007
Format: Paperback
The Chrysalids by John Wyndham is a futuristic tale told by a boy named David. At the beginning of the book he is about 10 years old living in a small community of people years after a devastating nuclear war has laid waste to much of the planet. God's Tribulation has destroyed the unworthy. In David's community life is spent without any technology and anything that isn't deemed normal, is looked at as an abomination in the eyes of God. People that have abnormalities, called "deviations", are considered Mutants. Mutants are sterilized, so that they can not reproduce, and sent to the "Fringes", the wild land outside of the community to fend for themselves. Any crop or animal that has a deviation is destroyed. Every child that is born must be inspected and given certification. Any type of difference is not tolerated. When David's friend Sophie is found to be a Mutant because she has 6 toes, he realizes how dangerous it is to be different. And David IS different. He, along with several other children in the area, are able to communicate with each other by "thought-shapes" or telepathy. After Sophie is taken, the children understand that they must hide their abilities. Although difficult at times, this works for awhile. Until David's younger sister Petra is born. Petra has the ability to communicate with the others as well. But Petra's powers are far superior to the others, but she is so young she can't control them.

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.
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