Sunday 11 March 2012

The Kraken Wakes - John Wyndham

Michael and Phyllis Watson both work for the E.B.C as script writers. Whilst on their honeymoon they notice red globes streaking across the sky before entering the sea. Before long reports of these red globes are appearing from all over the world and they seem to disappear into the deepest parts of the Oceans. Mike and Phyllis become chief reporters of the phenomena and are soon collating a record of all strange occurances. They become part of a team investigating just what has entered the Oceans depths. Not long after the reports of red globe activity have stopped new reports of other activity takes its place. That of large ships going missing with very few survivors. The question becomes just what is living down in the deeps and will it pose further threats? One scientist believes that whatever is down there won't tolerate the presence of man for long.

I love John Wyndham. Reading this has made me realise just how much I have missed his books. This one was a rather slow start and the book is set over several years. The slowness of the narration/action is deliberate though as the events are meant to occur over a long period of time. It allows us to build on concern and fear before any action does take place. Plus when the action does occur the slow start makes it all the better. You feel the horror of what the narrator is feeling.

For such a short novel it's amazing just how much it does fit in over the span of  years (probably a decade or so). In such cases you would find that the depth of the characters would suffer as a result but this isn't the case. Instead we get a real sense of who Mike and Phyllis are. We feel sympathy for them and I liked them both as a couple and individually. Wyndham was also able to add in how the events affected them so that they didn't just become narrators but a part of events. I also like the fact that Phyllis was a strong female character. I give a big cheer for that considering the book was published in the early 50's. A time when there was a strong belief that the woman's place is in the kitchen. Not for Phyllis. Her place was working beside her husband and in some cases off on her own. She had as much strength and talent as her husband if not more.

Speaking of the 50's, that was of course the time of the cold war and this fear was added into the plot of the book. Many speculated that Russia was to blame for the events that were taking place rather than the ridiculous possibility of invasion. Russia in turn kept silent for the most part. It was a nice touch I thought.

My favourite Wyndham is still The Midwitch Cuckoo's but I still give this one top marks. I was immediately sucked into the story and my attention was held right through to the end. Another great classic sci fi.

I read this as part of the Sci Fi 2012 challenge hosted by Ellie of Curiosity Killed the Bookworm. This was my choice rather than the group choice which is Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood. If you want to read what others read the posts are linked here.

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