The Chrysalids is set in the future after a devastating global nuclear war. David, the young hero of the novel, lives in a tight-knit community of religious and genetic fundamentalists, always on the alert for any deviation from the norm of God's creation.
Abnormal plants are publicly burned, with much singing of hymns. Abnormal humans (who are not really human) are also condemned to destruction - unless they succeed in fleeing to the Fringes, that Wild Country where, as the authorities say, nothing is reliable and the devil does his work.
David grows up ringed by admonitions: KEEP PURE THE STOCK OF THE LORD; WATCH THOU FOR THE MUTANT.At first he does not question. Then, however, he realizes that he, too, is out of the ordinary, in possession of a power that could doom him to death or introduce him to a new, hitherto unimagined world of freedom.
The Chrysalids is a perfectly conceived and constructed work from the classic era of science fiction, a Voltairean philosophical tale that has as much resonance in our own day, when religious and scientific dogmatism are both on the march, as when it was written during the cold war.
©2008 John Wyndham; (P)2009 Audible, Inc.
A Sci Fi junkie who occasionally goes slumming to read other literature.
In a post-apocalyptic world, David struggles with his culture's belief that plant and animal deviants should be destroyed. Deviants are anything that does not physically or otherwise match the image of God as defined by the deeply religious culture. He meets a girl his age and keeps her deviation secret, then discovers that he and some other children, including his little sister, are telepathic. When the adults discover this deviation, David, his sister, and a friend run for their lives. They are saved by a lady from a telepathic society that lands in a flying craft and carries them away.
This novel had potential, but I was disappointed in the ending which seemed to be a deus ex machina. The message of the novel is clearly one of tolerance, and is repeated ad nauseam. I therefore expected the flying, telepathic savior at the end of the novel to bring a final message of tolerance and peace, but instead she turns out to be just as discriminatory as the people of Waknuk. In an unemotional explanation of her killing of the aggressors, she describes how the stronger species will have a natural intolerance for the weaker species and ultimately destroy them ("the way of it").
Graeme Malcolm has a halting, lazy British accent, a terrible attribute for action scenes. He does not differentiate his voice between different characters, which makes it difficult to follow dialogue at times.
Bohemian Bon Vivant
Well written and fully realized world that disintegrates into a simple chase for the third act and wraps up with a less than inspired ending. A bit of a disappointment after the more fully realized Day of the Triffids, but the book will stay with me nonetheless, especially considering the political times we live in and the monstrous GOP's insane attack on homosexuals, which could very easily have provided the allegorical subtext for this work.
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