Saturday, December 05, 2009

The Chrysalids, by John Wyndham

(pb; 1955: introduction by Christopher Priest)

From the back cover:

"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 humans) 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."

Review:

Classic, quirky, compact science fiction novel from a great writer.

This would make a wonderful English class novel, for the above reasons -- not only that, it's rich with many of the themes that Wyndam has ably mined, albeit more thoroughly, in some of his other books: apocalyptic societies, religious and social repression (and other dynamics),and mutations/genetics.

Short, provocative, fleet-paced work -- worth owning.

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