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julianmeynell

Julian Meynell's Books

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The Chrysalids

The Chrysalids - John Wyndham An interesting book. I can't quite figure out if it is really a four star book or a three star book. It is sort of a post-apocalyptic novel but the novel is set about two thousand years after the apocalypse and is not that concerned with the apocalypse.

The first part of the book is really about oppression, conformity and religion. It is a meditation on forces that go after the different, but then the novel changes and the differences are seen as important and in a sense the persecution of the main characters is seen as inevitable because they are really a threat and the book mutates into a different book about human evolution. I can't quite make up my mind as to whether this is very clever or muddled.

One of the things that this book brought home to me is that when British SF authors write about human evolution they really in some sense are obsessed with the idea that it shows that there is no telos and in no sense are human beings the end product towards which evolution has relentlessly driven, whereas American authors always seems to back away from these harsh realities, which says something deep about the differences between the cultures.

Even though there are a lot of problems with this book, it did bring home to me that in general I prefer the British tradition in SF because someone forgot to tell British writers that SF is not literature, so they have carried on writing as if it is.

The quality of the writing declines as it goes along and there is a sort of incongruity in the shifting of the message of the book. My introduction says that the book reflects the trauma of the years after the second world war, and it does.

Interesting and worth reading, but I am not sure how well it will stick with me over the years.