Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Kraken Wakes

This classic SF novel was first published in 1953 and is still in print, a testimony to John Wyndham's ability to create pleasantly chilling scenarios. His calm, matter-of-fact tone is perfect for relating catastrophic events.

In this book, ETs have arrived on earth and taken up residence in the deepest parts of the ocean. Soon ships begin disappearing, then coastal raids take place. Finally the glaciers and ice-caps start melting. London floods and Parliament is forced to relocate. Compounding the problem are inept governments, misguided newspapers, and befuddled scientists.

Through it all a husband-and-wife team working for the English Broadcasting Company provide a sane and steady perspective, especially when society begins falling apart. Their breezy and intelligent conversation helps carry the book through the slow buildup to disaster.

Wyndham's books are the equivalent of cosy English murder mysteries, perfect for summer reading.


1965 CBC radio adaptation (downloadable)
Kraken book sculpture
Kraken Rum

More Tales of a Ruined Earth

The Last Man by Mary Shelley 1826
The Purple Cloud by M.P. Shiel 1901
Earth Abides by George R. Stewart 1949
The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham 1951
Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank 1959
Davy by Edgar Pangborn 1964
Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban 1980
The Postman by David Brin 1985
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood 2003
The Road by Cormac McCarthy 2006

A few that I've particularly enjoyed:

Daybreak - 2250 AD by Andre Norton 1952
On the Beach by Nevil Shute 1957
A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter Miller Jr. 1960
The Drowned World by J.G. Ballard 1962
Ariel by Steven R. Boyett 1983
Fiskadoro by Denis Johnson 1985
Cloud Master by David Mitchell 2004