Wyndham takes his science fiction out of surburbia for a classic post apocalyptic novel.
A literary as well as a science fiction classic, The Chrysalids is probably John Wyndham's least typical books. In place of cosy English settings of Day of the Triffids or The Midwich Cuckoos, it is set in the post-apocalyptic Canadian community of Waknuk.
A religion based on upholding strict genetic normality has arisen, and is pursued with fundamentalist zeal in Waknuk. Deviant plants or animals are destroyed, and humans with birth defects are banished to the dangerous, mutated Fringes.
The story is told through the eyes of David, a boy who begins to question Waknuk's values. First his friend's attempt to hide her extra toe fails, and she is banished. Then David himself realises the telepathic powers he and his sister possess will damn them as deviants too...
Like many of Wyndham's novels, The Chrysalids suffers from an abrupt ending. But on the way to it the book boasts fine writing and strong sympathetic characters.
Wyndham also brings the consequences of nuclear war to a chillingly convincing reality in the tale, while avoiding sermonising.
Work nominated by Salford John and Eloise_R.