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Book Chat - The Chrysalids


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Showing 1-25 of 147 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 31 Jan 2013 23:53:31 GMT
Last edited by the author on 1 Feb 2013 00:00:50 GMT
There is some great work being done forming a live, lively and interesting forum discussion book club based on offering 4 books a month and creating 4 chat threads covering those books each month. I'm throwing this over as a "rip it to shreds" thread for possible book contributors. Here's what I would create if I was doing a thread for The Chrsalids. What is useful? what is pants? what helps? what is boring? maybe 10% is useful - but pick it to shreds and see what works for you. Hope this is seen as a contribution and support to the team. CW.

The book: The Chrysalids (Penguin Decades) £6.99

The Chrysalids is a novel by John Wyndham, first published in 1955
It is classed as "Science Fiction"
JW subsequently published The Midwich Cuckoos
JW was born in 1903 and died in 1969.

A few thousand years in the future, post-apocalypse rural Labrador practise a form of fundamentalist Christianity with prohibitions. They believe that in order to follow God's word and prevent another Tribulation, they need to preserve absolute normality among the surviving humans, plants and animals. Genetic invariance has been elevated to the highest religious principle, and humans with even minor mutations are considered "Blasphemies" and the handiwork of the Devil. Individuals not conforming to a strict physical norm are either killed

The Story is about a group of children growing in this society and how they survive the society and their place within it.

The book, along with The Midwich Cuckoos, is about normality, deviance and tolerance. It has echoes of Animal Farm and Brave New World and haunts later works such and Ira Levins This Perfect Day.

For the narrator of the story, David Storm, the question gets confusing very quickly. He is "normal and conventional." His family are staunchly traditional. His new friend seems normal, and only on reflection does a small physical blemish realise itself to be a blasphemy. What does a normal person do? Embrace the status quo? Fight against all that he has believed in all his life? Risk his life for a deviant?

Written in a world still reeling from the Great Depression, World War Two and the insane extremism of fascism Chrysalids asks "What to do about deviants? Only on reflection do we see both sides of the coin revealed. Establishment needs protection from extremism. Individuals need protection from totalitarianism. Go too far towards one extreme and you meet the other face on.

By throwing itself into the new "science fiction" arena JW allowed the allegory to become free from fixed agendas and throws it open to everyman use. It applies equally well to black/white; gay/straight; communist/facsist debate. And that's what it does. It is a read, a fair to good read. Hopefully it forces open a door "is that fair?" "What would you do?" "What do you think?" If it does not leave you thinking then it's singularly failed.

Score: Overall 91/100
Style: 70/100
Story: 50/100
Wow factor: 99/100
Credibility: 40/100

This book is older than most grandparents. Is it still saying anything interesting?

Edit: Being me, I read it very pro the deviant and find the line held by The Establishment as totally unreasonable and dire. My brother reads the same book and as a pillar of the community reads it as a foul little book trying to incite rebellion. It really is not the same book, which I find remarkable.
I find the ending "twee" and non-closing. I think it would be impossible to write anything that does end neatly without adding another book on the end.

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Feb 2013 00:43:26 GMT
Just swallow your pride and re-join the book club.

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Feb 2013 01:28:54 GMT
@Bunj: I don't see a join/don't join requirement, thanks all the same.
The whole forum is free and welcome to join in the debate and to read the selections and suggestions.
The only "membership bonus" is the right to select a book ~ I'm happy to look with interest at 50+ other peoples suggestions.
I think as "an outsider" with zero baggage to carry I'm in the lovely position of being able to offer thoughts that the group are free to ignore without either of us feeling snubbed in any way - and we all get to stay positive, supportive and focussed on bringing as much as possible. But appreciate your positive thoughts, cheers. CW.

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Feb 2013 05:30:09 GMT
[Deleted by the author on 1 Feb 2013 18:01:13 GMT]

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Feb 2013 06:00:02 GMT
ß says:
It's a real shame that you Dn't want to join us CW. I for one would like to hear some of your discussions regarding the books that we intend on reading. Ok maybe not this time, but you may be interested in at least one of the books chosen the next time. It's just also a place for us to chat about something that we are all doing at that particular time; if you know what I mean.

Posted on 1 Feb 2013 17:06:46 GMT
Poly says:
Hi CW
I love this book and like you I was on the side of the 'deviants'. I am amazed at your brother's view. However I always found the ending disturbing with the wholesale deaths of the group hunting the children.

Posted on 1 Feb 2013 17:28:36 GMT
Last edited by the author on 1 Feb 2013 17:32:20 GMT
eric rambler says:
Nice one CW, I don't think I could review to that standard, I'm worried I won't get beyond "I enjoyed it" or "I don't like it".

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Feb 2013 17:31:16 GMT
[Deleted by Amazon on 8 Mar 2013 09:05:08 GMT]

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Feb 2013 17:32:57 GMT
eric rambler says:
Search the charity shops

Posted on 1 Feb 2013 17:41:53 GMT
Poly says:
I first read this book for free by borrowing it from the library, many years ago, I now have my own copy which I bought second(or probably third) hand for about £1.00 a couple of years ago.

Posted on 1 Feb 2013 17:53:32 GMT
The thread was an "example" of what threads could look like. It was meant to spur discussion on what a discussion thread should look like. I happened to write a review of a book I love simply because I love the book and to do one of some made up example would be meaningless.
I too actually don't have this on Kindle - I have three paperback copies all in various stages of falling apart. Buying electronic copies of all of JW's books will be a treat for later. I also agree that paying so much for classic books is wrong, but that's a different debate.

@Poly: It's nice to hear that it too was a fun read for you :) CW.

Posted on 1 Feb 2013 18:37:26 GMT
Last edited by the author on 1 Feb 2013 18:51:56 GMT
Doublell says:
CW - Congratulations. A sensible post about books is fairly rare on this forum. Let's hope the silly names don't spoil it.

I read 9 of JW books between 1962-1973; including The Chrysalids. He remains one of my favorite authors. Checking with Fantastic Fiction I see a few of his books I've missed. I'll have to look out for them.

I understand that a lot of his work is available as audio books.

Posted on 1 Feb 2013 19:29:49 GMT
Oh, boy! You've really taken me back in time by mentioning 'The Chrysalids'! I was enthralled by John Wyndham's books and at one time possessed most of them. Alas, I don't have any now! :-( 'The Chrysalids' was my favourite of all and the one that has stayed in my memory always. Thanks, CW, for re-awakening those memories.

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Feb 2013 20:15:25 GMT
Night Owl says:
Hello Ruby, I've read all Wyndham's books too,The Kraken Wakes sticks in my mind the most. The books of Colin Wilson were also a favourite of mine at the same time.

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Feb 2013 20:29:24 GMT
Bookie says:
Just wondering Night Owl, do you remember a book about time by Colin Wilson? I read it around 1967/68 and I don't remember the title. The only book I can find is a series of essays by various authors and it's not that one. Any suggestions?

I read all of Wyndhams books too but it was many years ago. CWs comments have reminded me how off the wall the books were at the time. Post apocalyptic novels exploring the nature of evil weren't the norm. Think I'll look out for some old pb copies and revisit a few :)

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Feb 2013 20:38:28 GMT
[Deleted by Amazon on 8 Mar 2013 08:06:34 GMT]

Posted on 1 Feb 2013 20:40:36 GMT
Katy May says:
We read this book for O level English, very very much the best of a bad bunch. I loved it and have enjoyed most of his books since. In fact, the Trouble with Lichen came in very useful when discussing with my boss the implications of an ageing society and earned me many points.

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Feb 2013 20:42:16 GMT
Night Owl says:
Hello Bookie, I can't bring it to mind but I use Fantastic Fiction to check books out like Doublell. Maybe a cover will remind you http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/w/colin-wilson/

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Feb 2013 20:46:56 GMT
Bookie says:
Thanks Night Owl. I'll wander off for a browse. I'd forgotten about that site. I've got my daft head on; I saw Doublell's post but didn't think about it referring to a website. Thanks :)

Posted on 1 Feb 2013 21:13:19 GMT
Am having a small puppy happiness moment. Went looking for one of the better copies of TC and found Chocky. It's '68 and rescued from Oxfam. Excellent - know how I'm going to spend this evening :)

Must admit I can not imaging a school exam board being smart enough to set Wynndham as a set text - deeply impressed they did. I would have to agree that some of his books are better than others - but believe that none of them are ever less than good.

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Feb 2013 21:16:26 GMT
@BtS: I think you are right to highlight this sort of disruptive post. It does not further the discussion, adds nothing to the comments on the book and is a good example of the sort of post to outright ignore.
There are bound to be those spoiling to hijack or sabotage a thread either by attacking it or - more deviously - by sidetracking it. As discussed on the main book thread the best wayto deal with it is just to ignore it and the poster totally. Thank you for highlight the danger BtS.

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Feb 2013 21:17:51 GMT
[Deleted by Amazon on 28 Oct 2013 06:16:30 GMT]

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Feb 2013 21:29:53 GMT
[Deleted by Amazon on 8 Mar 2013 08:06:37 GMT]

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Feb 2013 21:43:49 GMT
Last edited by the author on 1 Feb 2013 21:44:40 GMT
@BtS: In the post apocalyptic future of The Chrysalids the "technology" is horses and bows and arrows. Since it is a dystopian future it's technically impossible for "technology to pass them by".
Perhaps you are thinking of another story, or another author, or something.

Please, if you can point to any single instance where I have given less than 100% support and encouragement to the reading group I'd welcome your cut and paste. The only "Disdain" I noted in the whole book thread were the 4 contemptuous remarks of a bigoted homophobe called @BtS.

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Feb 2013 21:47:41 GMT
Bookie says:
Thank you very much for your invitation BtS. Sadly, I have to decline. I have no 'disdain for the venture'. You're quite wrong there. I wish it every success and have said so.

You're a naughty snail spreading fibs. :) But I like you. You make me laugh so it's not all bad.
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Discussion in:  kindle discussion forum
Participants:  36
Total posts:  147
Initial post:  31 Jan 2013
Latest post:  7 Feb 2013

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