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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still a great sci-fi classic
John Wyndham thought about rising sea levels long before the rest of us. This sci-fi work remains a small masterpiece. It explores the key issues when society breaks down in the face of unimagined and uncontrolled disasters. The characters of hero and heroine reflect the British writing style of the era, with stiff upper-lipped hero and perceptive heroine who manage...
Published on 13 Nov. 2011 by Tricia Brook

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars You can get lost in the future.
An enjoyable read very much in the style of John Wyndham. I very much like the style of his 1950s sci fi books which are never over the top. It is a good story though not brilliant in my eyes but at times the story dig drag a bit and did not always keep me wanting to read more.
The one big minus with this book (the kindle version, can only presume the written book...
Published 2 months ago by Johnny Kidd


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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Discs Damaged, 17 July 2013
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This review is from: The Kraken Wakes (Audio CD)
The whole storey continuity was marred by a breakdown in the last tracks of Disc3 and 5 - Any chance of a replacement please - when the rating will be "loved it"
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Splendid existential threat to humanity, but played out through 2-d characters and huge chunks of narrative, 25 Jun. 2013
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This review is from: The Kraken Wakes (Kindle Edition)
It's a great idea - Earth's deep oceans colonised by jellyfish creatures from space - and it has huge potential. Sadly that doesn't come to much. The two main characters are flip 1950s media types who have no real conflicts, and the only other central character, Bocker, is an archetypal boffin. The outcome has little real emotional impact. Read it for the ideas, and for the 1950s zeitgeist, but don't expect a life-changing experience.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars gripping and real, 25 Jun. 2013
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This review is from: The Kraken Wakes (Kindle Edition)
This is a very cleverly written books. Although the style and dialogue are somewhat dated, the book remains very readable, gripping. One thing that marks Wyndham out a a great writer for me is his ability to write stories that continue to have relevance even many years later. In this case, the story holds because it is not so much about aliens as about how society might react to a major challenge. As ever, the author is highly astute in his observations on society and its reaction to extreme circumstances. The tension is expertly increased as it builds to the inevitable conclusion, and I was unable to put it down.

What I found most perceptive was his description of a society that observes the problem (shipping becomes impossible) and successfully ignores it by finding ever more ludicrous and expensive ways to carry on as before (such as flying everything about) rather than confronting the issue. One could draw many parallels with the way global warming is being approached today, which is doubly appropriate since a major problem in the book is sea-level rise.

The ending is typical Wyndham however, which readers of his other books may be able to predict to some degree.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Depressing, 21 April 2013
By 
sebquest (Cumbria, England.) - See all my reviews
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As soon as I played this I recalled I had caught the original broadcast on the Beeb and wished I'd remembered that before I purchased this item. I love John Wyndham but this production is unremittingly depressing - I must re-read the book to compare. BBC production values, as usual, are excellent and this is a well-written adaptation given that it crams the action into 1 hour & 25 minutes. For a lighter shot of Wyndham, a better offering is BBC4's 'Chocky', which at least offers some hope for the future of the human race and possibly presages current theories of dark energy?
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Kraken Wakes, 25 Jan. 2013
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This review is from: The Kraken Wakes (Audio CD)
Good story (obviously), well read, good sound quality making it easy to be engaged and involved. Not very wonderful packaging, probably OK for transport but not long-term storage.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book!, 16 Jan. 2012
I loved this book, arrived on time for my holiday in Tenerife, spent the first few days engrossed! (Because that's how enjoyable I found it!) Not normally my genre, but very glad I ventured out of my comfprt zone for this one :)
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant..., 3 Nov. 2011
By 
Mr. G. Lee - See all my reviews
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Just brilliant, great for the commute or a long journey, made me go a re-read all the Wyndham books. Why isn't radio this good today I wonder?
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic update of this classic tale, 7 July 2011
By 
Duncan Howorth (Chester UK) - See all my reviews
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I absolutely loved this. Wyndham is one of my favourite authors anyway and I have read and re read his novels. But the BBC dramatisation is a cracker. The sound balance is great - you can hear all the dialogue easily. And there is the added twist of the contemporary threat of global warming. The voices were nicely set with accents from the BBC of the 1950s, and all the actors impressed with their presentation.
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5 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Kraken Wakes, 25 Sept. 2011
By 
TomCat (Cardiff, Wales.) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Kraken Wakes (Paperback)
In po-faced defiance of its title, The Kraken Wakes contains no tentacular sea monsters of Scandinavian mythological origin whatsoever. Neither does it so much as allude to giant squid, octopodes or cephalopods of any kind. Rather, the title is a bastardisation of a line from the Tennyson sonnet `The Kraken' [1830], which is a sea shanty-esque verse about the propensity of the ocean to be simultaneously both calm and deadly. The book itself is a fictional work of journalism by Mike Watson (with some monstrously unsubtle suggestions of a personality correlation with Sherlock Holmes' similarly surnamed sidekick), who narrates in the first person and describes his experiences of (and involvement in stopping) an alien invasion. The USP of these extra-terrestrial nasties is that, rather than saucering over cities and blasting us from the air, they land their crafts in Earth's Oceans and conduct a slow invasion from the world's deepest underwater trenches - you've gotta credit their originality.

Wyndham crafts his alien invaders with a set of narrative proclivities that are more in keeping with horror fiction than traditional sci-fi. The aliens themselves, for example, are never actually seen, either by character or reader; - they always function off-stage, as it were. They begin their take-over of Earth by pulling ships into the oceans, making any travel by boat untenable; later there are some suggestions of living tank-like weapons crawling up beaches, and finally, over several years, the sea-levels rise to apocalyptic heights and it looks like lights out for the human race. That all this violence occurs without a single physical description of or appearance by the aliens is what makes them seem so damn, well... alien. The ardent lack of description and the glacial pace of the aliens' progress allow the reader's imagination to run riot with speculation over what these things look like. This lack of any specificity whatsoever creates the uncanny impression that these non-visual invaders are simply too alien and too horrific to be adequately described with language. Wyndham's rejection of the standard anthropomorphised extra-terrestrial is markedly refreshing, and it's the latent inability of the cast to truly know their enemy that's responsible for the horror fiction vibe that dominates this book's tone.

But unfortunately, little else about The Kraken Wakes is as successful as its alien invaders. There are significant pacing problems, to the extent that I began to wonder whether Wyndham was deliberately dragging his feet with story progression in some kind of postmodern narrative reflection of the grass-growingly slow invasion of his alien antagonists. Frequently 50 pages will pass without a single synoptic `event'; the characters merely spend their time rushing around England asking if anybody knows what the hell is going on (in this regard, I suppose they echo my own sentiments). Similarly, much of the book's language is dull and clunky - often leaden with unhelpful adjectives and long, long passages of extraneous, journalistic musings about the international response to the invasion. Such chapters are frustrating because much of the book's scientific terminology is now obsolete; I often found myself reaching for the dictionary to look-up some esoteric phrase or other, only to discover that it is no longer in use: `coelenterate' being the most commonly used of such out-dated nomenclature (in case you're wondering: it describes a kind of jellyfish-like tentacle).

As far as I can tell, the most frequent modern criticism levelled at The Kraken Wakes is that it's very much a product of its time, and hasn't aged well. Large chunks of the book reflect contemporary societal fears that're just no longer applicable. The Americans initially refuse to believe in the alien invaders, choosing instead to apportion blame to some new and secret Soviet weaponry. Likewise the Russians accuse the Brits of sinking their ships, and vice versa. I don't entirely agree that this Cold War slant alienates a modern readership, because all a reader needs to do is replace every reference to `Soviets' with the word `terrorists', and this should do a more than adequate job of contextualising the Cold War climate of fear and suspicion for 21st Century readers. Besides, I don't think that a book being a `product of its time' is any kind of valid criticism at all.

Elsewhere characterisation is problematic, and somewhat of a double-edged sword. Protagonists Mike and Phyllis have the least believable marriage I've encountered in a long while, and speak to each other in a kind of faux Fleet Street insipidity that bathetically undermines any attempts Wyndham makes at presenting the couple's supposed love and affection. They're entirely without depth, and function purely as vehicles for telling the story - they may have worked better as colleagues, rather than lovers. A major contributing factor to their roboticism of character can be ascertained fairly early in the novel: they lose their newborn baby - an undeniably tragic event that is, bafflingly, never mentioned again; as if such an appallingly terrible event could ever be shrugged off in favour of yet more tedious investigative journalism. Their banality as `main characters' has the inopportune side-effect of making the seldom seen supporting cast that much more interesting. The eccentric appeal of mad scientist Dr Bocker (spookily always one step ahead of the aliens) and comic relief of nosy, opinionated neighbour Petunia only highlights the prosaicism of the leads, and left me longing for the rare appearances of the book's secondary characters.

My final gripe is with The Kraken Wakes' ending. Consider yourself duly spoiler-warned: though I'm sure such augury is obsolete in a review of a 60-year-old novel. Mike and Phyllis have fled to the countryside; most of the world's land is now hundreds of feet underwater; most of the world's population has drowned. It's summer, early evening, they're looking out over the indescribably vast ocean that covers the planet, only a few islands of land (former mountain ranges) remain, and the narrative tone is one of unknowability and question: who are these aliens? How/why have they flooded the Earth? It's beautifully vague, ambiguous and heart-rending. Then we get to the final page. A stranger arrives, announces there's a new weapon that fires an 'ultra-something' (direct quote!) and that the aliens will be defeated. The End.

The picture of an endless ocean drawn immediately before this conversation is so beautiful, well described and evocative that I was preparing myself to forgive the book's myriad failings in light of a brilliant ending; but the dues ex machina undermines the poignancy of the moment in an almost comically bizarre come-down that's entirely out of sorts with both the established pace of the story and the emotional tone of the scene. The Kraken Wakes is an ambitious but unsuccessful attempt at giving the alien invasion trope an unusual twist. The focus on the media reaction to such an event is great; likewise the exploration of international suspicions and fear mongering is convincing. I also enjoyed the horrific presentation of a truly other, unknowable alien life form. But poor characterisation, pacing and a frankly stupid ending ruined the whole experience for me. The Kraken Wakes is slow and boring, and although I've been told that this is a minor blip in an otherwise illustrious sci-fi career (Wyndham wrote the universally praised Day of the Triffids and The Midwich Cuckoos), I think it'll be a while before I pick up another of his books.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kraken Wakes, 27 Mar. 2013
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Great bit of fiction , awlways wondered about this story for years and was intrigued by the line and the setting.
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The Kraken Wakes
The Kraken Wakes by John Wyndham (Paperback - 28 Jun. 1973)
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