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Chrysalids [Paperback]

Carroll & Graf Publishers
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (113 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Oct. 1 1993
The terrifying story of a world paralyzed by genetic mutation. In a community where deviations are rooted out as abominations, David's ability to communicate by "thought shapes" is a dangerous secret. When his ability is discovered, the results are horrific.

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Product Description


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 alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

David Harrower's plays include Knives in Hens, Kill the Old, Torture Their Young and Dark Earth (Traverse), Presence (Royal Court) The Chrysalids (NT Connections), Blackbird (Edinburgh International Festival; West End), A Slow Air (Tron Theatre, Glasgow). Adaptations include Buchner's Woyzeck (Edinburgh Lyceum), Pirandello's Six Characters in Search of an Author (Young Vic), Chekhov's Ivanov and Horvath's Tales from the Vienna Woods (National Theatre), Schiller's Mary Stuart (National Theatre of Scotland), and Brecht's The Good Soul of Szechuan and Gogol's The Government Inspector (Young Vic). --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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First Sentence
WHEN I was quite small I would sometimes dream of a city -which was strange because it began before I even knew what a city was. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Ronald W. Maron TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Because this has been labeled as being a Sophomore High School English text book, I was quite surprised at the high quality of symbolism that was featured in the first half of the book. A small gathering of people located in Labrador and survivors of a nuclear holocaust exhibited extremely high levels of racism and prejudice to anyone who was 'not in (their) image of God'. This separatism was not only accepted by the local religious group, but it was demanded of its populace as well! Anyone who did not reject the 'mutants' was severely punished. While 'The Chrysalids' was written in the mid '50s while racial prejudice was rampant in the US, the religious zealotry that we are experiencing today was not nearly as prevalent. In spite of that, Wyndham foretold of it and described it quite well.

The book quickly devolved from a quality allegory to an Indiana Jones sequel, however. We have the good guys being chased by the bad guys, being caught by worse guys but eventually saved by the very good guys! Even though the author attempts to explain this final sequence under the banner of 'evolution', he does so in an awkward and trite manner. Gone is the high quality symbolism and is replaced by a mistaken view of evolution that states that in order for improvement in a species to occur, the former population must be totally destroyed. If that were to be the case, there would remain only one species of insect, one species of birds, one species of fish, etc.... Because of this tenet, there can be no full evolution of a complete population into a variety of sub-species as we presently see all around us. As shown in the final sequence, there is no emotional distress that the 'advanced' population should experience while exterminating the 'lower' species!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Classic tale of prejudice and fear in the future Sept. 5 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I never imagined science fiction was anything other than battleships in the universe and Aliens. This is so creative and different - it made me a fan of the genre for life. Imagine a time in the distant future were people are fearful of others just because of a special talent. It reminds us that it's easy to unlearn all of the lessons of tolerance we are working so hard for. A must read for anyone who wants to be blown away by story and imagination.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great Read Sept. 2 2013
By John
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
John Wyndham takes you into a distopian future where in this corner of the world society has become fanatical about preserving the human normal. We follow a group of children as they grow up with the ability share thoughts and try to keep it secret to avoid persecution and find some hope of escape.
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4.0 out of 5 stars good read Aug. 25 2013
By brandy
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
re reading an old classic, still a good book. though I really thought it would be free, since it is so well read and not a new book. instead one gets tons of crappy romances and bondage crap for free.. I guess it is what it is.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting story Jan. 5 2013
By David p
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Was my first time reading something form this author but not the last. I think this book is genius in a way that we can relate even now in this 21st century...
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great Atmosphere Dec 16 1999
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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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
First, a warning. This is not a work for anyone looking a laser beam sci-fi thriller, or Mad Max Road Warrior "after the Bomb" book. Or if you're some High School kid who only picked it up 'cos "teacher made me"... drop it now and get on with getting that Cheer Leader's phone number. Wyndham's visionary and literary genius is best shown in this, his finest work. His better known novel, Day Of The Triffids, superb as it is, pales by comparison. The Chrysalids is a novel that ends on a positive, but very credible note: it has none of the self-indulgent anti-Romanticism of Neuromancer, nor the saccharine 'utopia-ism' of Star Trek at its worst. The story itself, cunningly weaves many levels of understanding. As a sci-fi pageturner, we have a story set in the future where a boy conceals his telepathy from a neo-Luddite Fundamentalist community bent on destroying even the slightest physical deviation. There's adventure aplenty here for those who like a damn good yarn!
But as a polemic against the excesses of any kind of Fundamentalism whether'scientistic' or 'anti-scientistic', the novel reaches its heights. It is a watershed for any sensitive reader, professional or layman, who is agonising over the tensions our world faces today. This novel, first published in 1955 stands as a worthy "mirror" companion to Huxley's Brave New World. Huxley's dystopia displays the evil false religion of unquestioned Technophilia, and the flaws of barbaric Romanticism. Wyndham's novel is less hampered by Huxley's sophisticated intellectual style; his conflicts are more urgent and pressing, his characters better drawn, warmer and more 'human'. We feel the poignancy and pathos in the suffering and death of unhappy, 'deformed' Sophie.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Love this book, a great read
I do wish I could have gotten a copy with the cover I remember for the same price, but am thrilled to own a copy again.
Published on March 20 2012 by A. Craig
5.0 out of 5 stars Good thought experiment.
This book is a really good one, the best I have ever read. I find it realistic; what would happen after the end of the world????
Published on Dec 9 2010 by annwithane
5.0 out of 5 stars My 100-word book review
The Chrysalids has my vote for best novel by John Wyndham; I loved it as a teenager and still find it an excellent story, as fresh and evocative as ever. Read more
Published on May 16 2007 by A. J. Cull
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Message
I read this book in grade school. The message that was clear to me was not to judge others because they are different because the difference may be something wonderful that will... Read more
Published on June 10 2006 by Ann Kidston
1.0 out of 5 stars Terrible Book!
I was quite upset after reading this book. I had heard from others it wasn't very good, but i wanted to see for myself. It was the worst book i've ever read. Read more
Published on Jan. 5 2006
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting...
We read this in grade 7, and I enjoyed it very much. It gets slow at times, but nonetheless, a great book for science fiction lovers (of which I'm not). Read more
Published on Aug. 20 2005 by Katherine
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant.......
Cannot believe the criticism of this book. Proves HIS point. lol.
I love it, and so does my sister. 17. I bought a copy for my dad. I buy him books I love. Read more
Published on July 17 2005 by D. Mcquade
3.0 out of 5 stars Boring in the end but good in the beginning ... ZZZZZZZZZZZZ
As a child, David has learned the strict rules of his society: "Watch Thou for the Mutant," "The Norm is the Will of God," and "The Devil is the Father of... Read more
Published on June 5 2005 by gordo
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