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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
John Wyndham is the pen name of John Wyndham Parkes Lucas Beynon Harris (1903–1969), the son of an English barrister. The boy’s parents separated when he was eight, and after attending various boarding schools, he lived off family money while trying his hand—unsuccessfully—at careers such as law, commercial illustration, and advertising. In 1924 he turned to writing, and within a number of years he was selling short stories, mostly science fiction, to pulp magazines in America, as John Beynon or John Beynon Harris. During World War II, he served behind the lines in the British army, and in 1951 he published The Day of the Triffids, his first novel as John Wyndham, and a tremendous success. John Wyndham’s six other novels include The Kraken Wakes and The Midwich Cuckoos.
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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The society in which David and his friends live in is much like our modern day society. Although our society is not based on religion and doesn't exile those who aren't part of the true image, there are many similarities to a certain extent. Ignorance is a major theme in the town of Waknuk, which makes those who live there think lesser of those who are different from them. The town of Waknuk rejects any other groups because they believe that they are a threat to the people who live in the town. The author shows this very well as it is seen in our modern day society as well. Although it is not to the same extent, racism and discrimination is still very much alive in today's society. There are numerous other themes that the author does an excellent job in relating it to modern day society, modern being almost 50 years after the book was written.
This book is an excellent dystopian novel that can be related to our modern day society in many ways. I would recommend that anyone interested in dystopian fiction read this book, and see how similar dystopian fiction can be to our modern day society.
The Chrysalids (New York Review Books Classics)
The novel depicts a religious dystopian community, known as Waknuk, that has risen after nuclear war has wiped out any modern technology. In this society, any physical mutation or deviation from the true image of God is unacceptable and must be dealt with through means of burning or banishment to a place known as “The Fringes”. The story is told from the perspective of David, a seemingly normal boy, and follows his development throughout his childhood. David has grown accustomed to the strict standards his father, as well as his community, impresses upon him and he never thinks to challenge the ideas set forth by society. That is, until David discovers that he has a deviation of his own and he’s not the only one of his kind. The Chrysalids follows the journey of David, his sister Petra and a small group of others who share the same telepathic abilities as they work to navigate their way to safety in a world that has dangers lurking around every corner.
Wyndham does an incredible job of questioning the true definition of perfection not only within this fictional society, but in our modern day world as well. Who gets to decide what the real definition of perfection is? And why do we place so much importance on reaching these unrealistic standards? Although the society John Wyndham brings to life is quite extreme in the way the community gets rid of differences, he effectively forces readers to reexamine the ideals of the society we live in today.
The leading character IS normal, at least at first, but he meets someone who isn't 'quite perfect.' He finds her very normal, and not 'scary' or different, and befriends her. And then, we find out he isn't quite normal either, nor are some of his relatives.
It is a very complex story and the characters are so normal in actions that you are carried along to the end in a wholly plausible way. Very enjoyable. Recommend it if you like "Day of the Triffids" or even if you did not. It is a fast read, hard to put down.