8. The Chrysalids

by John Wyndham

This was a great 1955 sci fi book about young man and his friends who live in a close-knit community of religious fundamentalists bent on genetic purification as a way of "getting back" to a state of perfection as it was for the Old People before a devastating nuclear war.  Their new religious dogma, which includes intolerance of any genetic abnormality (a sixth toe, for example), leads to a closed, fearful society that is always on the watch for pretty much anything different.

Our hero, David, and a small group of his friends share a remarkable secret, one that, if discovered, would lead to their destruction at the hands of the community.  Abnormal plants are destroyed.  Abnormal livestock are destroyed.  Abnormal adolescents are destroyed.  The community is ever-dilligent in their efforts to rid itself of anything that deviates from "the norm of God's creation".

David and his friends come to realize that they too are deviants as they possess telepathic powers that would surely get them "eradicated" if ever detected.  These powers, however, can also lead to unimagined freedom for them... if they can escape to the Fringes.

As it is with a great deal of post-WWII fiction, The Chrysalids is a condemnation of Nazism and an exploration of the potential of humanity after the war.  Clearly, nukes play their role in both creating awesome physical and psychic pain worldwide, but in the sci fi genre the same nuclear event is seen as creating a sort of second chance for humanity as well.  I especially like this novel because it warns of the dangers of  religious and scientific dogma that argue that there is a certain human who is "perfect" and defined by those in power at the time.

Good stuff and a fun adventure.


Dan said...

This one is on my wish list. If you still have it and are able, can you mail it some day?

Crumbolst said...

I borrowed it but if I see a copy I'll grab it.