The Kraken Wakes

The Kraken Wakes - John Wyndham

‘I don’t care. I don’t mind working hard when there’s hope. It was having no more hope that was too much for me.’

This may come as a spoiler to people but I have to get this off my chest because I absolutely detest books whose title promises something that the book does not deliver:


The is no bloody kraken in this book. 


The kraken only appears as a reference to a poem by Tennyson in which the ills of the world are unleashed. And while this describes the story of the book perfectly, it does little for the unassuming reader who has come here for a kraken adventure.


With this out of the way, there were some marvellous aspects of human behaviour laid out in this book - mostly I fear, human behaviour at its worst. One was the way that fear-mongering and distress will cause people to divide into an us v them mentality. Another, was that despite a likelihood of survival being better in a group, everyone is seen as a victim first, then as an asset to accomplish a common goal. 


As this book was written during the Cold War, the utterly stupid assumption that dropping atom bombs on a problem would solve it made an appearance, too. And this assumption was flaunted quite readily as a solution. Of course, it was of absolutely no help whatsoever.


And so it took the near destruction of the world for some nation, who at the time of writing had been written off, to find a solution. 


There really is much truth in Wyndham's observations of humans and politics, even tho his description of technology was dated even at the time of writing. This book is sci-fi, but it really is not about fancy technology at all. If anything, it is about the destruction of civilisation by an unknown force who ultimately causes a type of disaster that is very real to the present reader - the melting of the ice caps.

I really admire Wyndham's foresight on this point along with his observations about humans. 


Unfortunately, Wyndham's style of writing was not for me. In particular, our main character's narrative was abysmally boring. It was really only when conversing with his wife or some other characters that the story really came to life. This made the reading experience an exercise in drudgery, and the book deserves so much better.