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Wrinkle in the Skin [Hardcover]

John Christopher
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Hardcover, January 1969 --  
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ground-breaking geopocalyptic masterpiece! May 12 2003
Format:Paperback
John Christopher has written several novels of global catastrophe,of which this is certainly the best.
The basic premise is that of extreme earthquakes on a worldwide scale, which reduce towns and cities to piles of rubble and plunge the survivors straight back into the Stone Age. Much of western Europe is drastically uplifted, transforming the English Channel into a muddy desert overnight - whist elsewhere, lands are thrown down and drowned under inrushing seas.
The cataclysm and its aftermath are seen from the viewpoint of Matthew Cotter, a Gurnsey horticulturalist who finds himself one of a handful left alive on the former island. The future they face, attempting to begin life again with what they can scavenge amid the devastation, seems hard and uncertain enough.
Matthew then treks across the empty seabed to England, in the faint hope that his student daughter has also survived. He finds the situation far worse in a wider land, with many competing bands of scavengers. Pillage, rape and murder are now the norm as mankind revets to utter barbarism.
The actual scientific likelihood of such immense convulsions in the Earth is very doubtful, and the author's explanation - as a new mountain-building episode - is certainly nonsense, since such events take tens of millions of years. The sheer dramatic impact of a global earthquake, however, makes this book greatly entertaining for all but the most pedantic.
Its central emphasis is on the reactions of people, totally unprepared, who see their world turned (almost literally) upside down and everyone they knew destroyed. While some find natural strength and determination, even leadership, others respond with violence, with apathy and despair, or retreat into lunacy.
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  10 reviews
112 of 114 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ground-breaking geopocalyptic masterpiece! May 12 2003
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
John Christopher has written several novels of global catastrophe,of which this is certainly the best.
The basic premise is that of extreme earthquakes on a worldwide scale, which reduce towns and cities to piles of rubble and plunge the survivors straight back into the Stone Age. Much of western Europe is drastically uplifted, transforming the English Channel into a muddy desert overnight - whist elsewhere, lands are thrown down and drowned under inrushing seas.
The cataclysm and its aftermath are seen from the viewpoint of Matthew Cotter, a Gurnsey horticulturalist who finds himself one of a handful left alive on the former island. The future they face, attempting to begin life again with what they can scavenge amid the devastation, seems hard and uncertain enough.
Matthew then treks across the empty seabed to England, in the faint hope that his student daughter has also survived. He finds the situation far worse in a wider land, with many competing bands of scavengers. Pillage, rape and murder are now the norm as mankind revets to utter barbarism.
The actual scientific likelihood of such immense convulsions in the Earth is very doubtful, and the author's explanation - as a new mountain-building episode - is certainly nonsense, since such events take tens of millions of years. The sheer dramatic impact of a global earthquake, however, makes this book greatly entertaining for all but the most pedantic.
Its central emphasis is on the reactions of people, totally unprepared, who see their world turned (almost literally) upside down and everyone they knew destroyed. While some find natural strength and determination, even leadership, others respond with violence, with apathy and despair, or retreat into lunacy. John Christopher displays a subtle and far-ranging mastery of characterisation. He has created a stark and very believable vision of human struggles to survive in a world made suddenly strange, lawless, primitive and hostile.
It might have been even better to see Matthew Cotter and others ten or twenty years on, after the barbaric majority had mostly starved or slain each other and nature had begun to reclaim the shattered country. Would naval vessels have survived in mid-ocean and acted as nuclei for new communities? Or would the fallout from wrecked nuclear power stations have caused widespread cancers, sterility, mutations - and ultimately lethal new diseases, which would finish off the human race?
This is, surely, the essence of "thought-provoking" literature.
Regardless of unanswered questions, I would rate "A Wrinkle in the Skin" as being among the finest pieces of speculative fiction I have read.
52 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Breaking Ground March 9 2002
By Greg Hughes - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I was nearly 13 years old the last time I saw this novel in the school library. It sounded like an exciting story but there was one problem: two pages were missing, including the last one. A short time later the out-of-print book disappeared. I spent the next thirteen years looking for it and have just read a brand new edition. It was worth waiting for.
Similar in style to "The Death of Grass" (1956), "A Wrinkle In the Skin" (1965) reads like an after-the-bomb story without the radiation. In this book the collapse of civilization is quite literal.
Massive earthquakes have brought a sudden end to modern society. Towns and cities have been completely destroyed, the twisted landscape strewn with rubble and unburied corpses. Very few made it through the devastation alive. The disaster has left its survivors reduced to the level of scavengers, digging among the ruins for food, wary of strangers, fearful of desperate marauders.
Things are unstable in more ways than one. While earth tremors continue to shake the survivors, recent events have unhinged those who once lived normal lives in a world of law and order. Madness and violence are widespread. And these are only the early days of the aftermath. Nevertheless, a trace of decent behaviour still remains in some people. Against the rising tide of barbarism, they're determined to live and gain some form of security that will enable them to start again.
Among all this horror, Matthew Cotter is trying to find his daughter Jane. As one would expect, it's a grim journey by foot across a ravaged land.
It's tempting to think of "A Wrinkle In the Skin" as a prequel to "The Prince in Waiting Trilogy". (In that story England is medievalised once more due to the destruction of civilization through earthquakes.) We can guess that life will be more primitive and harsh after "A Wrinkle In the Skin" finishes. Descendents of the survivors will inherit legends of former glory; the so-called "lost civilization" with its mysteries and wonders. Only time will tell whether future generations will rediscover all that was destroyed.
30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the way the world ends...this time. Dec 17 2005
By Raegan Butcher - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
John Christopher writes exciting sci fi novels about catastrophic shifts in the world order. He has tackled everything from mass starvation (The Death Of Grass) to epic changes in the earth's weather (The Long Winter) to alien invasions(The Tripod trilogy) to giant earthquakes, which is the central catastrophe of this book.

After an enormous series of cataclysmic earthquakes wipes out modern civilization, a group of survivors struggle to stay alive in the ruins of the British Isles.
This is one of John Christophers most gripping adventure stories, filled with strange settings and memorable characters;
I especially liked the image of the oil tanker beached on the bottom of the now dry English Channel, its sole occupant slowly going mad.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I and my students loved the book. May 13 2008
By Peggy Baggett - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This novel is wonderful for teaching students to think about what could happen in a natural or man-made disaster. I think pairing this book with Alas, Babylon is a wonderful idea. I am also thinking of including in the unit Lord of the Flies. How do people handle natural disasters, man-made disasters, and war? Discussions will be great!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Good Read Sept. 21 2009
By S. H. Davis - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
My friend, Science Fiction writer K.D. Kragen recommended this to me when we were discussing what a seabed might look like were the water to suddenly disappear. This is a very good read by British author John Christopher. It may seem a little dated to some, given when it was written, and the very "British" style of writing, but make no mistake, it is tense and hard to put down. It leaves just enough for speculation that the imagination is indeed exercised. Which is good.
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