23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
A cracking slice of deep-sea unease.
, 23 April 2004
This review is from: The Kraken Wakes (Mass Market Paperback)
Although "The Kraken Wakes" never got the same acclaim as Wyndham's (justly) famous "The Day of the Triffids", it isn't just a pale `Triffids' rip-off either. Yes, the book's ending is a bit of a damp squib and, yes, the narrator's wife Phyllis might strike modern readers as a patronising stereotype, but then again ... "The Kraken Wakes" may be just about the best alien invasion story since H. G. Wells' "The War of the Worlds". Wyndham is one of the few British S.F. writers who could match Wells for invention and logical construction. He doesn't go in for histrionics - the introduction of the sub-aquatic aliens is very low-key and the screw oftension tightens slowly but inexorably as the book progresses. "The Kraken Wakes" cleverly combines a Wellsian war between very different species with a Ballard-style environmental disaster. Gradually, control of the high seas passes to the invaders. Strange objects rise out of the waves and kidnap human samples. Finally, the polar ice melts, the oceans rise and the world suffers catastrophic floods. We never get to see Wyndham's "Xenobath" aliens up-close - they remain tantalisingly ill-defined and all the more alarming as they gradually encroach on the deep seas and luckless ships. In amongst the sometimes lame characterisation, there are passages of real nail-biting tension and some very funny swipes at Cold War rivalries. Okay, so maybe the "Triffids" it ain't, but "The Kraken Wakes" is still one of Wyndham's best stories and a very rewarding book in its own right.
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