Tuesday, 8 April 2014

The Kraken Wakes

It all started so slowly. So much, that a number of seemingly unconnected events mostly went unreported for months. But the increase of shipwrecks starts to raise eyebrows. Could there be something in the deepest reaches of the ocean? And if so, what? Does it mean to cause harm?

I love Phyllis. You’d expect from a book written in the fifties, a certain amount of sexism but Mike and Phyllis are a real partnership. Indeed, there are several occasions where she’s the one who saves him. I love their witty conversations and affectionate teasing. It’s not a love story but their everyday kind of love shines through. I like to think this couple is based on Mr and Mrs Wyndham, especially as he married a friend of 20 years.

As with Triffids, The Kraken Wakes comes across as incredibly timeless. It probably helps that there’s not been a lot of technological shipping advances in the last 60 years, nor do we know that much more about the bottom of the world’s oceans. We’re still concerned about rising sea levels and the effect of mankind on the ocean’s ecosystem.

The Cold War may have passed but Russia’s still having disagreements with the West. Some people still believe whatever the media tells them, with certain tabloids having their own agenda. I like the fact it was told from the point of view of two radio scriptwriters. They had a reason to be involved but out of the action, for the most part. For a story about the world under threat, there’s a very personal feeling. I like to think Mike and Phyllis would be a comforting presence on the radio in that kind of situation.

A lot of the book is full of media speculation. There’s a huge sense of déjà vu with some of it. The whole surmising of what happened to a missing boat section reminded me so much of the recent media coverage of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370. We don’t know anything but we have to report something mind-set. Some things never change.

One of Wyndham’s strongest themes is the idea that humans aren’t all that secure in their position at the top of the food chain. His writing isn’t full of doom and gloom and I think he always gives us hope. His choice of protagonists are good, kind people, the sort of people you’d probably want to look after us in a disaster but ultimately never are.

Some of the language is just delightful. It’s a bit old-fashioned in places, yes, but it adds a certain charm. I especially enjoyed the repeated use of the word “boffins”. I’m looking forward to continuing my journey into the works of Wyndham!

This also ticks off #7 on my Lucky No. 14 Challenge for this year (woohoo, I've made a start!).

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Book Source: Purchased

2 comments:

  1. The Day of the Triffids was one of our required books for reading in high school - and, unlike most of the others we read, I loved it! I read The Kraken Wakes too at the time, but don't remember it as well as the other one.

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    1. I think Wyndham's a great idea for school reading. Lots to discuss, established 20th century classics and very enjoyable! Triffids is one of my favourite books, this isn't quite as dramatic, so I can see why it might fade in the memory but I doubt I'll forget Phyllis :)

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