I will be reviewing two books today, to make up for yesterday.
I’ve read this book upon a direct and an indirect recommendation from my good friend. You can read the indirect recommendation here.
I am not a huge fan of strong science fiction in literature. In fact, I think that reading Jules Verne was the closest experience with real science fiction that I’ve had. The Chrysalids is a science fiction novel, and it isn’t… Wyndham claims to have created a new genre — a “logical fantasy”.
The book has a somewhat of a post-nuclear war setting: living conditions of humans are back to being quite low, there are a lot of mutations in the world, and geography is not their strongest subject. So these people wish to imitate the Old People in the best way they can. And the first way is to follow the “true image” — their idea of the way God has created us: having two hands, five fingers on each, a nail on each finger, et cetera. Now and then mutations occur, in humans, animals and plants; those are Deviations — the devil’s imitations of the God’s true image. They must be destroyed.
I find that summarizing a piece of science fiction is the hardest thing ever! because everything needs to be in context… So I will conclude with: David, the main character, is obviously different. Not in the physical appearance, though. And he is not alone.
The novel is a very light read, but it also raises a lot of questions about God and what really is the true image, if there is one. And how do we, humans, know what it is, and why do we have the right to punish…
I feel like it would have been very relevant during the time of its publication — 1950s. Or earlier. But also today.
The book is also relevant to all religions, not Christians only, as we can ask those questions of any human believing in any higher being.
Other messages included that life is change, and difference must be embraced and adapted to. All of this left a good impression on me. The title — The Chrysalids — left my friend and I in some puzzlement. But now, having read the book, I think I know that it refers to David and his friends. A “chrysalid”, rather a “chrysalis” is a general term for cocoons of sorts, for example those involved in the metamorphosis of insects like catterpillars. Metamorphosis. Change. Life is change. The children change their perspective of the true image at the end. Also, a catterpillar morphs into a butterfly — a creature [arguably] more gentle and beautiful, leading me to think that Wyndham suggests change leads to better, more beautiful things, if embraced naturally. A good message for me right now…