Read The Kraken Wakes by John Wyndham Online


Ships are sinking for no apparent reason, carrying hundreds to a dark underwater grave. Strange fireballs race through the sky above the deepest trenches of the oceans. Something is about to show itself, something terrible and alien, a force capable of causing global catastrophe....

Title : The Kraken Wakes
Author :
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ISBN : 9780140010756
Format Type : Mass Market Paperback
Number of Pages : 240 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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The Kraken Wakes Reviews

  • Apatt
    2019-04-19 16:59

    Every time I review a John Wyndham I can not resist defending him against the “Cosy Catastrophe” label foisted upon him byBrian Aldiss. The allegation is that Wyndham tends to write books where the middle class white protagonist is not much inconvenienced by the catastrophe affecting the general populace. He just holes up somewhere nice, smoking his cigars until it is all over. I have always felt this is unfair as his central characters get into plenty of scrapes in the books I read.Having said that, the first half of The Kraken Wakes really does seem to justify this denunciation. It starts off very cosy and shuffles along amiably until all hell breaks loose in the novel's second half. The basic storyline is that some mysterious fireballs from outer space fall into deep oceans and soon ships start disappearing in the middle of their voyage. The word "alien" is not used in this book but yeah, bloody aliens are at it again. On the whole The Kraken Wakes reminds me a little bit of Wells’The War of the Worlds in that some aliens show up, start decimating mankind with their weird death machines, then (view spoiler)[bugger off (hide spoiler)]. I would say that on the whole Wells’ book is superior but the second half of this book gives Wells a run for his money.The Kraken Wakes is split into three “phases” (excluding the prologue), in the first phase the fireballs appear and ships start disappearing, in the second phase the aliens begin their attack on coastal towns, and the third phase is the apocalypse. The book is quite nicely structured with the occasional jumps in the timeline to up the intrigue factor. There is an obvious tonal shift from the first half of the book to the second. Initially the first person narrative is written in rather jovial vernacular language. A lot of time is spent on investigating the underwater mystery through news reports and expositions from the novel’s main boffin, Professor Bocker. The two main characters Mike and Phyllis Watson are journalists through whose eyes we see the events of the novel. They are a lovely couple, always ready with their cute bantering and terms of endearment, some of their lovey dovey dialogue made me a little nauseous. In the meantime the scientists and the military spend half the book barking up the wrong tree. I was getting a little tired of the cosy jocularity until the middle of Phase 2 when the aliens proceed with their land incursions. The book suddenly becomes quite thrilling with the advent of the invading “sea tanks” which are made from organic matter rather than metal; an early example of biotechnological machines. The war with the aliens takes up the rest of Phase 2 with humanity giving a pretty good account of ourselves though the war continues. In Phase 3 the aliens engineer a major global disaster and civilization has broken down. This is the most thrilling part of the book, as despair sets in and the cosy atmosphere is suddenly gone. The situation looks grim for mankind and even our middle class protagonists are in danger. The ending of the war again reminds me ofThe War of the Worlds as it is almost a “deus ex machina”, even though it makes sense there is no build up to it and it feels like Wyndham just simply pulled the solution out of his posterior. Though I like the more epic feel of the story as the war with the aliens goes on for several years rather than just over a wild weekend, and life on Earth is never the same again afterwards.By the end of the book my faith in John Wyndham is entirely restored. I feel like the lighthearted tone of the earlier part of the book is a misstep for the story Wyndham wanted to tell, once the tone shifts into darker apocalyptic territory he is firing from all cylinders. So 3 stars for the first half of the book, and 5 stars for the second, that averages out to 3.5 but as this is not actually maths I’d say 4 stars is more appropriate!I love these old-timey covers 😊["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

  • Bettie☯
    2019-04-09 15:58 John Wyndham's science fiction novel adapted by Val McDermid. Performed with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra in a terrifying modern retelling of alien invasion and global flooding. Starring Tamsin Greig, Paul Higgins and Richard Harrington.The floods have recently devastated parts of Britain. But what if the flood waters never subsided? What if an apparent meteor shower was actually the invasion fleet of an alien race, incubating in the ocean deeps until they were ready to begin their war of attrition against the human race? What if we were trapped on a drowning planet?Val McDermid is a long-time fan of Wyndham's work and retells this dramatic novel in light of contemporary fears of climate change.Recorded with a live orchestral accompaniment from the BBC Philharmonic. Composer Alan Edward Williams worked with Val to create a brand new 50's B movie inspired orchestral score that takes on the role of the unseen Kraken during the performance .Episode 1: Radio reporters Mike and Phyllis Watson are drawn into the story when a Northern Lights cruise spots five fireballs landing deep in the ocean. With other global sightings, social media is agog, for a while. But governments don't lose interest when Twitter does. And when naval expeditions link up with scientists to investigate the deeps there are more shocks in store. Scientists are baffled, though theories abound then a series of disasters makes it indisputable. There is something down there and humans are under attack.Episode 2: The floods have recently devastated parts of Britain. But what if the flood waters never subsided? What if an apparent meteor shower was actually the invasion fleet of an alien race, incubating in the ocean deeps until they were ready to begin their war of attrition against the human race? What if we were trapped on a drowning planet? Three star goodness, however this is Wyndham and I am old school, so 4* is the score on the doorPerformed 'as live' with the BBC Philharmonic OrchestraComposer: Prof Alan E WilliamsConductor: Clark RundellDirector and Producer: Justine PotterA Savvy production for BBC Radio 4.

  • Jonathan Terrington
    2019-03-29 16:12

    The Kraken Wakes is probably the most different of John Wyndham's still read novels. Which perhaps helped me to recognise what makes him stand out in the field of sci-fi. He's a brilliant combiner of elements of both horror and sci-fi to create a chillingly realistic novels with intelligent thoughts and ideas behind them. While he may take inspiration from Verne and Wells (he refers to them within his actual novels in clever metalinguistic intertextual devices) he writes works which are original in their entirety and fascinating. That said The Kraken Wakes is probably not the best place to begin reading any of Wyndham's novels. I'd start with The Chrysalids, The Midwich Cuckoos or The Day of the Triffids.Perhaps the most surprising thing about this book for me is that there was no actual Kraken in it. At least the version I read. I read the blurb about fireballs falling into the oceans, ships disappearing and a world-wide catastrophe (John Wyndham loves those, he'd no doubt be writing a story about 2012 if he were still writing now) and thought: okay so extraterrestrial threat and a Kraken rising up and destroying civilisation, yes? Well actually the Kraken in the title was a metaphor for other things rising up out of the ocean. However despite this disappointment it was still a brilliant read that reminded me of a mix between Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and (curiously) The White Mountains.Either way I highly recommend that anyone interested in classic sci-fi read this novel. It has creatures rising up out of the ocean to battle land dwellers. It questions the control of government and its influence in the media and how it covers and conceals from its people. Is a government there for the people instead of the people there for the government? I strongly encourage this as an addition to the John Wyndham bookshelf shelf you sci-fi fans will now have to be building.

  • Manny
    2019-04-04 11:53

    There's a law of nature, still waiting to be discovered, which states that the probability of a tune or a bit of bad poetry getting stuck in your head is in inverse proportion to the quality of the piece in question. I read this book almost 40 years ago, and every now and then the following piece of doggerel resurfaces and annoys my conscious mind:Oh I'm burning my brains in the back roomAlmost setting my cortex alightTo find a new thing to go crack-boomAnd blow up a xenobathiteIsn't it just horrible? You'd hope that the person who made it up would be grabbed by a slimy marine monster's tentacles, dragged screaming to the water, and slowly drowned. But who says there's no justice? That's exactly what happens.

  • Tony
    2019-04-20 10:20

    Once again, a lesson in down-beat sci-fi writing. Something lands on Earth from space, crashing into the depths of the oceans and 'doing something we can't see' but can only imagine.We drop nukes on them and they come up to take us, bit by bit. The sea-levels rise...and we're probably doomed!Sound familiar? WAR OF THE WORLDS meets AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH...and its 50+ years old.Corking and grown-up. My favourite Wyndham novel, but only by a tickle over DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS

  • Simon
    2019-04-10 15:03

    It was Brian Aldiss that accused John Wyndham of writing "cosy catastrophes" but there is nothing cosy about the catastrophe depicted here.Some form of alien beings arrive from space and settle in our deepest oceans and, even though they cannot exist in the low pressure environment of the surface and we can't exist in their high pressure environment at the bottom of the oceans, it soon becomes clear that the two cannot cohabit the earth and that one of us must go.I say it becomes clear but as far as humanity is concerned, it takes impossibly long for the penny to drop for all but a few fringe "scare mongerers". In this story, the public seem to be extraordinarily resistant to coming to terms with the true nature of the threat, the full extent of their predicament and the need for urgent action. Not that there seems to be anything that can be done, humanity is on the back foot forced to be strictly reactive to a threat who's precise nature remained a mystery throughout the book. The tone of the book is depressingly doom laden. The governments, helpless in the face of this unknown threat seem capable of doing no more than soothing the worries of their public and putting a brave face on things as the humanity's domain is encroached upon ever further.We follow the story through the eyes of husband and wife journalist team as they observe events usually from a distance, but sometimes at the forefront as they unfold and civilization is gradually brought to its knees and begins to unravel. The emphasis for much of this book is on the media reaction the way public perception shifts accordingly.Personally, I thought the narrative style was somewhat distancing for large parts of the book and it may have benefited from multiple points of view to keep the reader close to the events that were taking place but some of the scenes were very evocative, depicting quite horrific moments when the protagonists happened to be close to the action.Not my favourite Wyndham novel but certainly has a lot going for it nonetheless.

  • Laura
    2019-04-14 15:19

    From BBC Radio 4 - Dangerous Visions:John Wyndham's science fiction novel adapted by Val McDermid. Performed with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra in a terrifying modern retelling of alien invasion and global flooding. Starring Tamsin Greig, Paul Higgins and Richard Harrington.The floods have recently devastated parts of Britain. But what if the flood waters never subsided? What if an apparent meteor shower was actually the invasion fleet of an alien race, incubating in the ocean deeps until they were ready to begin their war of attrition against the human race? What if we were trapped on a drowning planet?Val McDermid is a long-time fan of Wyndham's work and retells this dramatic novel in light of contemporary fears of climate change.Recorded with a live orchestral accompaniment from the BBC Philharmonic. Composer Alan Edward Williams worked with Val to create a brand new 50's B movie inspired orchestral score that takes on the role of the unseen Kraken during the performance .Episode 1:Radio reporters Mike and Phyllis Watson are drawn into the story when a Northern Lights cruise spots five fireballs landing deep in the ocean. With other global sightings, social media is agog, for a while. But governments don't lose interest when Twitter does. And when naval expeditions link up with scientists to investigate the deeps there are more shocks in store. Scientists are baffled, though theories abound then a series of disasters makes it indisputable. There is something down there and humans are under attack.Episode 2:Following the remote, far flung lone alien attacks, Europe is now under attack too. When people fight back, the sea tanks withdraw, the attacks abate and there is a silence. It is short lived. A new form of attack takes hold. The weather is changing. Banks of fog smother the world. And the sea level is rising. Rivers begin bursting their banks, tracts of the country become uninhabitable and civil society starts to break down. The lights are going out all over the world. Silence.Mike and Phyllis fight to survive as much of the world is submerged and most of the global population dead or displaced.Performed 'as live' with the BBC Philharmonic OrchestraComposer: Prof Alan E WilliamsConductor: Clark RundellDirector and Producer: Justine PotterA Savvy production for BBC Radio 4.

  • Reynard
    2019-04-08 14:02

    Buon racconto sul tema dell'invasione aliena. Il libro è ben scritto, Wyndham sa creare la giusta atmosfera di crescente angoscia causata da una lenta invasione, ma il finale non mi ha dato quel quid in più che mi aspettavo dall'autore del Giorno dei Trifidi. Nota a margine: trovo il titolo originale (The Kraken Wakes) particolarmente evocativo.

  • David Sarkies
    2019-04-17 15:07

    Another John Wyndham invasion story28 February 2013 Have you ever read a couple of books by an author that are simply so brilliant that whenever you see a book written by that author you grab it expecting that it will be brilliant as well, and then when you read it it just gets nowhere near your expectations? That happened to me with this book. It is not that it is a bad book, by no means, but after reading Day of the Triffids and The Chrysalids, I had such a high expectation with John Wyndham's other books that they could not possibly achieve those expectations. I should have learnt my lesson from movies that I really want to see and have such a high expectation that when I see the movie it simply fails to meet that expectation, though when I watch it later I discover that it actually is a good movie (Last Kiss Goodnight and Pulp Fiction fall into those categories). The Kraken Awakes is about an alien invasion of Earth though you never actually get to meet the aliens. The way that Wyndham sets up the invasion is what you would typically expect from him. The aliens arrive as balls of fire that crash into the deepest parts of the sea, and while some of them are shot out of the sky, they always remain as mysterious visitors. Remember at the time that this book was written the ability to explore the deepest parts of the sea were not as advanced as they are now, and even now it is not significantly advanced that we would be able to succeed where humanity in this book failed. Whenever they attempt to get at the aliens in their home environment they seem to always fail. They send bathyscopes and cameras down into the sea which are ultimately always destroyed. In fact the aliens manage to maneuver themselves as to deny humanity access to the oceans. They begin by destroying warships but quickly begin to target any ships that cross their domain. However, being told from the point of view of a human (meaning that we only ever know what this particular human knows, despite him telling the story from a future point in time, the mystery is still as mysterious as ever) looking back, there is a lot we don't know and don't ever know. This book was also written during one of the high points of the cold war, which means that there is a large section of Earth, namely the Communist bloc, that we don't know what is going on there as well. While the writer does accept that the invaders are of otherworldly origin (namely because he is writing from the future) we still don't know what is going on in the Soviet Union or how the Soviet Union is responding to the threat. Obviously, and believably, the superpowers are blaming each other for these mysterious incursions, and it is interesting how this is played out. Because everything was so secretive back in those days, and the idea of a cloak and dagger Cold War was dominating the world, anything thing that happened that was mysterious and strange would be the actions of the enemy (though I suspect that happens any time there is a cold, or even a hot, war). The book is divided into three sections which correspond to the three phases of the invasion. The first is the arrival of the aliens, the second is where the aliens establish themselves, and the third is where they make their move. However I don't want to go into too much details about what they do because the how aspect of the book is based pretty much around what you do not know. In fact, the lack of knowledge is that main thing that drives this book, and it is not that as if things are revealed as the book progresses, they aren't. The other aspect that comes out is how powerlessness we are, despite all of our knowledge and technology, against certain threats. Take for instance the volcanoes that erupted in recent years that pretty much brought air travel to a halt. In years past, if that were to happen nobody would care, but now we are so reliant upon air travel, if a volcano erupts, we are stuffed (and don't you see a hint on Rousseau in that?). Look, this is a good book, there is no denying that. While I would not put it in the category of horror (though some have suggested that it should go there) there are still horrific elements too it. As mentioned, there is the horror of the lack of knowledge and the inability to find out what is going on, and there is also the horror of powerlessness. Even though our technology has advanced substantially since Wyndham wrote this book, there is still a lot that we do not know, and what he is showing here is that, despite all of our technology, there are still limits to what we know and what we can do, and if something assaults us from beyond those limits, then we are powerless to respond.

  • Vheissu
    2019-04-19 12:20

    WARNING! THIS REVIEW MAY INCLUDE SPOILERS!John Wyndham’s “The Kraken Wakes” is a well-written, rip-roaring monster story that is both prescient and remarkably relevant to the present world situation, nearly sixty years after its publication.I have been keenly fond of the filmed adaptation of “The Day of the Triffids” since its original theatrical release. Only years later did I realize it was based on a Wyndham novel; it is next on my “to read” list. I was even less aware of “The Kraken Wakes” until “Ted Brautigan” recommends the novel to “Bobby Garfield” in Stephen King’s “Hearts in Atlantis,” another wonderful King story. I admire Stephen King greatly and respect his opinion about books, so I decided to read the two Wyndham novels myself. To say that I was wonderfully surprised by the “The Kraken Wakes” is a gross understatement.Ostensibly an “end of the world, invasion from outer space” story, the novel is a parable of catastrophic climate change, the inability of the world community to grasp and deal with the problem, and the ultimate disintegration of human communities into vengeful, hate-filled enclaves.Like carbon dioxide, the cause of the ocean’s rise in “The Kraken Wakes” is invisible to the human eye; like the climate change debate today, there are disagreements about the extent to which mankind itself is exacerbating or even primarily to blame for the problem. Politicians, the masses, and the news media contest the credibility of scientific warnings until the matter becomes acute. Countries and governments dither over international cooperation and fear that one or another will gain a military or political advantage from the problem. The vengeful masses begin to demand “indiscriminate bombing” of the supposed enemy and become weary of the seeming incompetence of authorities.The collapse of international cooperation is mirrored by the disintegration of local government. In one scene that prefigures Katrina, Wyndham writes:“…the surrounding districts had somehow formed themselves into miniature independent states and forbidden entry after driving out many who had come there as refugees; … those who did try to cross the border into one of these communities were fired upon without questions.” (p.227)The massacre on the Danziger Bridge in 2005 cannot be better described. In another scene, Wyndham’s characters debate Britain’s ban on gun ownership:"Doesn’t it sometimes strike you as odd that all governments who loudly claim to rule by the will of the people are willing to run almost any risk rather than let their people have arms? Isn’t it almost a principle that a people should not be allowed to defend itself, but should be forced to defend its Government? The only people I know who are trusted by their Government are the Swiss, and being landlocked they don’t come into this [inundation of low areas by the rising oceans]” (p. 161)“The Kraken Wakes” is also a rip-roaring adventure tale. The “Escondida Incident” was one of the most original and terrifying scenes I have ever read, and that includes a great many Stephen King stories. Take it from King and me, “The Kraken Wakes” is remarkably well done and likely to be enjoyed by horror and adventure readers for years to come.

  • Paulo
    2019-04-07 13:05

    These year I am trying to hear some stories to maximize my time. I am not in favour of either ebooks and audiobooks. The first is know to all, the second in my opinion, since I am doing something else at the same time, it usually doesn't capture my attention as a book, so it can be a bit frustating. But, in this case, I really enjoy hearing this short novel.It all begins, as a couple of reporters on vacation, start seeing some objects are falling on the sea. After some investigation it seems a lot of objects have fallen but all on deep waters. After some ships are sunk a nuke sea war start to develop. The first act of retaliation this begins start sunking several ships. At this time most western civilization dealock in the cold war, start throwing guilt to each side. Most people believe that this things that are happening are the works of communists.The second wave of retaliation start as this beings start kidnaping people from the earth. Again a response from humankind. The third and final wave, the aliens start melting the ice caps rising the water several meters. As a human sonic weapon start to kill the aliens, humankind starts to rebuilt their new world, with less habitants and less non-flooded areas.The main characters are just there. But they are neither interesting or development. The main purpose of this tale is indeed, the plot itself. In the end we get this incertain of what expects humankind. Its strange that along the book people are not convice of alien begins but as acts of communists. The second interesting bit is that the aliens went into the deep sea, so I think that both species could co-existed but humankind is not an Good species, xenophobic atittutes is what most writers of sff portrait humankind. If we can't tolerate someone with different skin, religion or sexual preferences, how can we tolerate a different species altogether?Good Wyndham tale. Very good, indeed. In the vein of Triffids but imagine War of the Worlds a bit more updated.

  • Dan Schwent
    2019-03-21 12:53

    Also known as The Kraken Wakes.I'm a fan of John Wyndham and his 50's brand of horror sf. Out of the Deeps surpassed my expectations. It has all the makings of a summer blockbuster, probably starring Will Smith. It has a husband and wife team of reporters as the protagonists, a scientist that no one believes, and tentacled aliens that rise from the deep in sea tanks to terrorize the surface dwellers. Let Will do the theme song and you've got a license to print money.I'll rank Out of the Deeps right up there with Day of the Triffids as one of Wyndham's best.

  • Oscar
    2019-04-05 11:16

    La historia, contada por Mike Watson, periodista, narra la invasión alienígena de la Tierra, o más bien, de los océanos. Un buen día caen en el mar unas extrañas bolas rojas, siendo testigos de ello Mike y su mujer Phyllis, reporteros de la EBC, pasando por ello a cubrir los subsiguientes eventos. Al principio los gobiernos mundiales, sobre todo Estados Unidos y la Unión Soviética, no le dan importancia. Hasta que los barcos empiezan a desaparecer misteriosamente.‘Kraken acecha’ (The Kraken Wakes, 1953), de John Wyndham, famoso por ‘El día de los trífidos’ y ‘Los cuclillos de Midwich’, es una novela de ciencia ficción que narra pormenorizadamente una posible invasión extraterrestre, haciendo especial hincapié en los efectos sobre los medios de comunicación y el caos de los gobiernos por intentar hacer frente a la misma. La historia es interesante, pero la forma en que está narrada me ha parecido aburrida y poco emocionante.

  • Daavid (דוד)
    2019-04-10 14:06

    Having read this sixth title by John Wyndham, I am satisfied now, after having been very dissatisfied earlier with Trouble With Lichen and Chocky.The Kraken Wakes is a multiple-genre book. It is Science Fiction, no doubt: and Marine SF at that. But apart from that a slight sense of mystery and suspense, mass-disaster, and the best of them all: I found it horrifying !I loved the Marine SF aspect of it, and this book has brought me more closer towards liking this sub-genre. However, the horror part of it is what is truly scary whenever I still think of the story, just in case such events do happen for real, which of course is possible, we cannot say ! Because anything is possible !! :DMore than having a typical storyline, this book I would say is a situational-fiction (like The Man in the High Castle). The story is mainly narrated by a husband and wife team who are reporters for a television channel. An alien-invasion story, but this time from the deep seas! What happens when we do not know or are unable or incapable to understand our enemy? How do we go about fighting it? How does mankind respond to such a threat, that of its own extinction? How do politics and media play a big role in all this? What happens when governments don't take the initiative of getting one step ahead to fight an enemy not yet understandable? To what extent can humanity go to survive when the sea levels rise? These and other such questions have been asked in the book."The thing is that once we had developed intelligence we weren't satisfied with the world as we found it; so, are the things down there likely to be satisfied with it as they find it?"Being a title published in the early Cold-War era (1953), a lot of thoughts within the story reflect the former USSR as a suspect of doing things. Also at the time, often trade used to take place by sea. As a result when there is a naval blockade due to threats from the seas (in the book), how it affects trade and its further implications on everything else in the socio-political arena have been discussed. We can say that the book is slightly dated now. However, the basic fundamental questions that have been dealt within the book, I would say, still exist. Some of those ideas can be extrapolated to different areas of economics, commerce, transportation, technology, politics, etc. of the current age, and we could still have a massive problem if such an event would occur.The book is divided into three "Phases", of which the third phase (view spoiler)[comprises almost fully of sea-level rise, and how does humanity cope with it. This is the last quarter of the book. As I was reading this part, I was getting fed-up with the fact that the writer has 'kept aside' the invaders and written more about the floods. However after completion and retrospection of the book, I understand now that the entire finale focuses mainly upon surviving the floods caused due to the sea-level rise, and implies that at such a stage, survival becomes foremost priority and anything else - the enemy included - is something that can be kept for later. (hide spoiler)]Since the book is a situational-fiction, it was easy to accept the ending. I like such endings, where the future is left yet undecided, while it makes one ask questions of our (humankind's) doings based on her conscience."Can you imagine us tolerating any form of rival intelligence on earth, no matter how it got here? Why, we can't even tolerate anything but the narrowest differences of views within our own race."A terrifying good-read. :)

  • Nikki
    2019-04-03 15:04

    The Kraken Wakes is similar in tone to Wyndham's other invasion books -- The Day of the Triffids and The Midwich Cuckoos. Similar in plot, too, I suppose, but I just don't get tired of this kind of story, apparently. There are similar themes in play about two intelligent species inevitably coming into conflict (which also arises to some extent in The Chrysalids).The whole management of the media bit amused me rather, and made me wonder to what extent it's really true that any individual reporters would be trying to do that balancing act. Particularly when I see headlines like 'Paralysed dog taught to walk again' and 'Invisible hearing aid' when I'm watching my sister read the paper at lunch, for some reason, and it seems so very incongruous with the life or death stuff I'm reading... I just have to imagine them carefully deciding how much truth readers can take about, say, how the dog became paralysed.Oh, except the sinking of a Russian ship that popped up on my twitter feed, from CNN, just as I was reading about the mysterious disappearances of ships in The Kraken Wakes -- that I could picture being carefully handled and spun by the reporters.The ethics of these characters is particularly noticeable, I suppose, with the recent discovery of The News of the World's little breaches of ethics.Once again, this rides the line between horror and SF, I think -- through both horrific imagery and a sense of the uncanny when ships disappear and strange things happen to them. It's not that scary though -- partially, I think, due to the measured pace and tone, and the fact that it's written after the events have taken place (so the characters must, perforce have survived).

  • Sandy
    2019-04-08 11:55

    At this point, only the most obstinate of naysayers would ever deny the alarming evidence regarding global warming, the shrinking of the ozone layer, the melting of the polar ice caps, and the rising of the Earth's ocean levels. Indeed, just recently, the European Space Agency’s CryoSat-2 satellite revealed that Greenland and Antarctica are, together, losing their millennia-old ice caps at the rate of some 500 cubic kilometers per year! But over 60 years ago, British sci-fi author John Wyndham presented to his readers an even scarier proposition than Man's unwitting destruction of his environment, in his 1953 offering "The Kraken Wakes" (released in the U.S. under the title "Out of the Deeps"); namely, the deliberate destruction of the polar ice caps, with its concomitant worldwide coastal floodings, brought about by alien invaders!"Kraken" was the author's second sci-fi novel under the "John Wyndham" byline (he was born in 1903 with the unwieldy handle John Wyndham Parkes Lucas Beynon Harris, and passed away in '69), following his more well-known novel "The Day of the Triffids" (1951) and prior to his classic "The Midwich Cuckoos" (1957). Both of those other "cozy disaster" novels were famously filmed ("Cuckoos" in 1960 under the title "Village of the Damned"--here’s an old review of mine for the film: --and "Triffids" in 1963), and it seems to me that "Kraken" might have served as even better film material than those other two. The novel is certainly more spectacular than those two books, and is a tense, realistic, exciting and elegantly written piece of work overall. It was turned into a BBC radio show in 1954, but still, what a film this could be...with the requisite $200 million, of course!The book is narrated by Mike Watson, a reporter for the EBC (the English Broadcasting Corp.; NOT the BBC, as he is required to explain numerous times during the course of his tale), and is divided into three "phases." In the first phase, mysterious fireballs are seen descending all over the globe, always crash-landing into the sea; Watson and his new bride, Phyllis, a fellow EBC reporter, see several crash into the Atlantic while on their own honeymoon cruise. Bathyspheres sent down to investigate are destroyed, and before long, ships are being sunk as well, wreaking havoc on the global economy. In phase two, the sea-dwelling aliens begin to send out tanks to invade coastal communities, and, with their levitating, jellyfishlike assistants (Dr. Alastair Bocker, the book's only other central character, and the only man in the world who divines the precise nature of the underwater menace, refers to these creatures as "millebrachiate pseudocoelenterates," and to the aliens themselves as "xenobathetic"), start a campaign of kidnapping humans. Things turn even more dire in phase three, however, when those ice caps begin to melt, the Thames bursts its banks, and a goodly chunk of London is submerged!"The Kraken Wakes" evinces great detail in its presentation, in both the action and day-to-day departments. Wyndham takes care to show us how the escalating crisis impacts the international political situation (naturally, the U.S.S.R. and the West are quick to blame one another at first, in typical Cold War fashion, and there are numerous digs at the slow-moving pols), how it is covered by the press (a largely cynical and disbelieving lot), and how it is perceived by the public (unimpressed, for the most part...until those floating jellyfish start snatching them!). Wyndham’s descriptions of the submerged London are fairly journalistic and matter-of-fact in nature; not at all like the hallucinatory images given us by J.G. Ballard in his masterful 1962 novel "The Drowned World," in which solar flares melt the ice caps and turn London into a phantasmagorical lagoon."The Kraken Wakes" gives us a man and wife, the Watsons, who are very much equals; refreshingly so, for '50s sci-fi. Indeed, Phyllis shows herself to be cooler, more resourceful and a better planner than her husband, several times during the course of Mike's narrative. And the book features any number of stupendous action scenes. The one in which the alien tanks make their appearance on (the fictitious Cayman Island) Escondida is absolutely thrilling, and equally suspenseful is the sequence in which an American destroyer in the Caribbean is sunk with an A-bomb on board; a pressure-sensitive A-bomb, that will detonate after reaching a depth of two miles! I might add that a world atlas and a street map of London proved of great assistance to me as I tore through Wyndham's novel, and unless you know where Amboina, Godthaab, Santander, the Lea Valley, Harrogate, Barnes and Deptford are, you might find one handy, too!Truth to tell, as good as Wyndham’s novel is (and if I haven’t made it clear thus far, let me plainly state that it is a very involving, credible and intelligent affair), there are a few slight problems that might crop up for some readers. For one thing, we never do get a look at the invading aliens, although their pseudocoelenterates might give us a clue as to their appearance. Similarly, we never learn their motives for landing on Earth, kidnapping our people and melting our ice caps. But as Bocker at one point says, "...this 'Why' business is a waste of breath." In truth, the lack of alien description and motivation did not bother me; it only adds to the air of cosmic mystery in the novel. A bit more problematic is the datedness of the Cold War milieu, only heightened by the mention of both "Life" and "Collier’s" magazines, and by Phyllis (an extremely intelligent woman, mind you) remarking, "...they've been blaming the bombs for upsetting the ecology, whatever that is...." Is it possible that the word "ecology" was such an abstruse term in 1953? Wyndham also makes the terrible boo-boo of referring to the subsea Guatemala Trench as the "Guatemala Basin," which is a completely different geographical area entirely. Still, these are relatively minor matters when stacked against the book's abundant great merits. Readers who thrilled to the ambulatory deadly plants of "Triffids" and the golden-eyed children of "The Midwich Cuckoos" should just love the maritime disasters, alien attacks and environmental apocalypse that "Kraken" dishes out. As John Wyndham demonstrated half a century before the actuality, melting ice caps are no picnic!(By the way, this review originally appeared on the FanLit website, a most excellent destination for all fans of John Wyndham: .)

  • Kate
    2019-03-26 10:55

    This is yet another reread of The Kraken Wakes, and yet again I am surprised by how utterly modern the themes of the book are despite the fact it was written (and is set in) the early 1950s.This is not a "shoot 'em up" book, there are few violent incidents, but the creeping horror is insidious and terrifying. I would say the description of the Bathies' sea-tank attack on Escondida in the Caribbean where they begin "harvesting" humans is incredibly disturbing; it's what isn't said rather than what is that makes it so strong, as one's imagination starts working overtime. "Kraken" is a proper "end of the world" type novel, and at one point on character even mentions TS Eliot when she says "so this is how the world ends, not with a bang, but with a whimper".What I particularly love about this book is the part that the narrator's wife Phil plays. She is a strong, single minded, intelligent woman; so different from the usual shrieking damsel in distress or sweet inoffensive self-effacing doormat found in most sci-fi depictions of women in this era. She is a foil to the narrator, Mike's, occasional idiocy and is quite happy to take matters into her own hands when something needs doing. She is also treated as an intelligent equal by the scientists and naval types she and Mike meet during their investigations into the invading alien intelligences.All in all, The Kraken Wakes is a classic of British science fiction. Highly recommended.

  • Graham
    2019-04-07 11:59

    Another chilling sci-fi invasion story from John Wyndham. It's not up there on the same level as DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS, but it proves more than a few chills in its story of mysterious underwater aliens who are hell bent on destroying humankind.Wyndham achieves a kind of chilly realism with this story in which there are plenty of loose ends and nothing is fully explained. The story takes place on more of an international scale than TRIFFIDS and the various set-pieces are very well handled, particularly that Caribbean interlude with the invasion of the tank-things.Best of all, Wyndham achieves a kind of restless inevitability in his storytelling which I found frankly chilling. As the story progresses, the protagonists gradually come to realise they're virtually helpless against the increasing menace and the final third of the story is particularly gripping. My only complaint is that the initial part of the story is extremely slow and slightly repetitive, which might be off-putting to some, but it's well worth persevering with as this turns out to be gripping stuff when you get into it properly.

  • Steve Merrick
    2019-04-04 11:53

    Little boys who live by the sea should not be allowed near this book as it will involve massive flooded fantasies of a submerged Sydney and it also makes them smile at this.I have always loved Wyndham, but the Kraken wakes holds a very special place for me. The aliens arrive almost unnoticed and the start living in the deep sea trenches, (So far so good!) time passes and wham they start raiding random islands and stealing the locals. You will not believe what you are reading as humanity almost bites the big one in these pages. really well written through the eyes of a reporter and his Mrs, watch as the little bleeders try to drown our species off the face of the Earth. SHOCK and AWE.Taking into account the ambiguous ending this book has not aged at all badly, in fact the fifties seem to give it an almost parallel universe feel to it now, yet it flows much like the flood waters and is a thoroughly enjoyable read, unless you are a small boy living by the sea with a massive end of the world daydream then you should thoroughly enjoy this.....Viva John Wyndham!;-)

  • Ashley
    2019-04-15 16:09

    UPDATE: Okay, so, I'm not saying I hate this book necessarily but that's almost what I'm saying. I think if I had invested myself more in The Kraken Waves I would have enjoyed it a lot more. I'm sure it's a great book and many people enjoyed it, I'm just not one of those people. Really though, I just get an overall sense of disappointment and blandness when I recall my experience finishing this book. The Kraken Waves definitely caught my interest multiple times (but lost it just as many times). I was never caught by any emotion and that was a big hurdle for me. Honestly, it's pure luck that I finished this before 2017 ended because I didn't think I was ever going to finish it. I give The Kraken Waves an average 2.5 stars. ________________________________________Quickly updating this to show that I finished The Kraken Waves late last night/early this mothing and that I might finish my last 2 books of 2017 in time. RTC.

  • Jonathon Fletcher
    2019-03-20 17:55

    “If it had only been something we could fight - ! But just to be drowned and starved and forced into destroying one another to live – and by things nobody has ever seen, living in the one place we can’t reach!”This quote from Phyllis Watson, one of the main protagonists of “The Kraken Wakes” pretty well sums up the whole book. Phyllis and Mike are journalists who work for the E.B.C. (rivals to the B.B.C.). When strange events begin on Earth, the two journalists are tasked with reporting what is happening back to the masses in the United Kingdom and around the world. This is their story.It begins harmlessly enough; a few strange glowing lights fall through the sky and plunge into the oceans of the Earth, but then events become terrifyingly sinister. I won’t go into the details of what happens for fear of spoilers. What I will say is that this is the best imagining of an alien invasion that I have read since “The War of the Worlds” or John Wyndham’s other classic book, “The Day of the Triffids”.The writing style is a little formal, even old fashioned by today’s standards, but if you can get past that then the story simply sucks you down into the murky “depths” that are slowly being colonised by creatures that we can’t even see as they live at depths where the pressure would crush even our strongest submersibles. From the moment that an exploratory deep sea diving bell disappears with the loss of two sailors the puzzling events that have so far been dismissed as “harmless” take a sinister and deadly turn. The scene where “sea tanks” crawl out of the depths to prey on the unfortunate inhabitants of a coastal village still haunts my imagination.The book is not only entertaining but is cleverly and intelligently thought through and has many of the elements of cataclysmic, worldwide apocalypse that wouldn’t seem out of place in a contemporary big budget movie. In fact I can’t imagine why no one has bought the rights to this story as it would put such mind numbing popcorn fodder as “The Day After Tomorrow” to shame.As with his other books, The Kraken Wakes has a dismal feel to it. The main characters become gradually worried, depressed, terrified and eventually completely disconsolate. This book scared me more than “Jaws”, mainly because the creatures below are never seen or described. The imagination conjures up more terrifying creatures than computer special effects ever could. Tentacles, beaks and gelatinous amorphous forms roll in the deep as huge saucer-like eyes regard mankind with incomprehensible malevolence. One piece of advice I would give you; don’t even think of reading this book while you are on a cruise…

  • Judy
    2019-04-09 12:16

    I had never heard of John Wyndham until I read Jo Walton's Among Others (a book I loved in deep inexplicable ways.) The teen protagonist in that book joins a sci fi reading group at her local library and Wyndham's The Chrysalids was one of the books discussed.I have since learned that Wyndham single-handedly redefined science fiction by not writing about "the adventures of galactic gangsters" but instead about stuff that could happen on earth if we kept going the way we were going. He called this "logical fantasy" but today it is called speculative fiction. He influenced Margaret Atwood: The Handmaid's Tale and The Maddaddam Trilogy.His first book, The Day of the Triffids featured an attempted takeover by monstrous carnivorous plants, his speculation on genetic engineering. The Kraken Wakes involves an invasion of aliens, visible only as dots of bright red lights coming in from space and going directly to the deeps of the oceans. They begin sinking ships, capturing people from shoreline towns, and melting the polar icecaps. Mike and his wife Phyllis, favored journalists for the English Broadcasting Company, follow the story for years. Professor Alastair Bocker, a visionary scientist, after much ridicule, finally develops a way to obliterate the alien monsters without destroying the planet.The writing is intelligently humorous and moves at a typically British sedate pace but you can't hold a gripping tale down. It is a leisurely page turner, if you can imagine.Relevance for today: How earth might deal with rising sea levels. The way governments and business influence the press to keep the real magnitude of disasters from the public.Connections with other books I've read: The Sea Around Us by Rachel Carson where I first learned about the Deeps.The Highest Tide by Jim Lynch in which a kid finds a possible almost extinct Giant Squid on the shores of the Olympic peninsula. He was a Rachel Carson fanboy who read The Sea Around Us over and over.The Deep Range by Arthur C Clarke, about whale farming and the sea monsters who threaten it.Kracken by China Mieville; the weirdest story ever about a Kraken.

  • Sean Kennedy
    2019-03-31 18:00

    I've been having a really busy week so my reading has suffered. It made this book feel a little more disjointed than other Wyndham novels, even though I still love it. I think its major flaw is that there is a huge gap in the timeline between 'Phase Two' and 'Phase Three'. Although the narrative gap is filled in, it still feels like a huge jump in the plot - as if Wyndham didn't even want to devote the time to telling the whole story.But what sells it is the descriptive language, and the intense foreboding throughout it. Wyndham knows how to tap into our primal fears, and this is more than evident in this book where we have monsters from the deep (that are quite possibly aliens), natural disaster, humans turning upon humans, and the world as we know it coming to an end. With all the focus on climate change of late, it is hard not to shiver when the creatures turn their technology upon the polar ice caps and flood our land.The ocean is our last unexplored territory upon earth. Here be monsters.

  • Yvensong
    2019-03-31 17:57

    This story begins with strange red lights in the sky that crash into the ocean depths. It slowly builds into a frightening account, as seen through the eyes of a radio scriptwriter and his wife, of unseen invaders bent on conquering. As with other Wyndham novels, several issues are exposed, some of which seem almost prophetic. What would we do if we can no longer practice world commerce in the manner that we do now? How does the media handle the truth? If there was a real threat, would the governments hide it from us “for our own good”? When we see an issue that may have a real consequence on our planet, will we become complacent until it's too late? Wyndham deftly explores these questions while weaving a tale of the personal lives of our hero and heroine with the tragic consequences of not taking the early signs of invasion seriously. There are brief and occasional efforts to end the threat, but nothing substantial. Nor is there a substantial drive to find real resolution, since most the people effected by the invaders are “not us”.

  • Robert
    2019-04-05 13:08

    This is an alien invasion story that pits humanity against creatures that take over the depths of the ocean and then proceed to attack. Less subtle than the Midwich Cuckoos, though stylisticly and technically exceedingly similar, this novel is told from the perspective of a journalist who accidentally gets caught up in events, but only as he looks back on them from a distance of time - making the protagonist very similar to that of The Midwich Cuckoos. Another similarity is the assertion that two intelligent species could not co-exist, but instead must come to strife. Again Wyndham's false understanding of evolution and ecology is put forward to justify this view.

  • Damon
    2019-03-23 15:13

    Good read. Fast.

  • Arielle Walker
    2019-04-17 14:57


  • Alice Lippart
    2019-04-02 14:19

    Written quite realistically with the danger lurking around the corners of the story until suddenly all hell breaks loose. And it's TERRIFYING.

  • Stephen McQuiggan
    2019-03-26 14:54

    A story that takes place sedately over a number of years - perhaps a tad too sedately; here more than elsewhere is Wyndham guilty of 'cozy catastrophe'. Still, it has some startling visual imagery and is as thought provoking as you would expect from an author who likes to watch society decay. A bit more tension, an injection of pace, and maybe even a death or too, would have went down a treat though.

  • David Brown
    2019-04-02 12:57

    I’m discovering new authors all the time, whether they’re recent or going back many decades. Over the years I have accumulated a worrying amount of books and reached the stage where I can’t remember what I own. From a select pile of books on my bedside table I plucked John Wyndham’s The Kraken Wakes that Mrs B assured me would be a good read. It sounded interesting from the summary on the back but how did the novel fare?Comparable to Orwell’s 1984 or Huxley’s Brave New World, Wyndham’s novel, though partly science fiction, conveys a vision of the world which still resonates in the present. The central characters are two journalists, Mike and Phyllis Watson, who are among the first witnesses of fireballs descending from the sky and striking the ocean while they’re on a honeymoon cruise. What follows is years of uncertainty as the world faces new threat to its existence, ones they must fight for survival, if only they can stop fighting amongst themselves.The Kraken Wakes is divided into three phases and told from the perspective of Mike Watson though his wife, Phyllis, is always nearby. The fireballs that begin the world crisis cause much confusion and speculation amongst the world’s nations. Published in 1953, Wyndham would have been writing the novel at the time of the Cold War (1947 – 1991) and the novel’s depiction of a strained relationship between the West and Russia is highly appropriate. Rather than question whether the frequent fireballs are a phenomenon from outer space, the rival nations accuse each other of causing the fiery downpour. It soon becomes apparent that something very strange is going on in The Kraken Wakes. After the fireballs land in seemingly strategic points in the ocean – in the deepest trenches beyond easy reach – a new event rocks the world. Ships start to disappear, quickly dragged beneath the waves and never seen again. Few of their crew live to tell the tale and those that do are unable to explain what became of their vessels. The ocean becomes a forbidden zone for mankind with ships remaining close to shore rather than trying to cross long stretches, particularly the deep trenches. With mastery of the sea seemingly taken away, mankind face an even bigger threat from the water. Beginning on an isolated island, sea tanks emerge from the waters and begin abducting people, leaving a trail of vile slime in their wake. Once again the tanks are believed to be technology originating in Russia and only the outspoken Bocker, a regular character in the novel, seems to be the one trying to logically explain what is going on, though his ideas are dismissed as folly. Though fireballs had me intrigued from the start the novel improves greatly with the disappearing ships and the mysterious appearance of the sea tanks. Seemingly impossible to stop, they abduct people without mercy before disappearing quickly beneath the waves. They are never described in great detail so the mystery of what they are and where they come from continues into the latter stages of the novel. The concluding segment is the best of all with the sea tank assaults becoming less frequent but in their place the ocean rises and wipes out the majority of the world population. The idea of the government in Westminster having to relocate to Harrogate, Yorkshire, made me smile but this section also reflects the brutality of a population on the brink of death and fighting one another for the last scraps of food. Though The Kraken Wakes does delve into science fiction the idea of the ocean rising and putting the world population under threat is not farfetched. The pressure on the Ice Caps, flooding in recent years in the likes of New Orleans, and the ongoing debate about global warming made the latter stages of Wyndham’s book a frightening prospect indeed. The ending feels a bit rushed and the conclusion more a passing reference than a detailed explanation but it still works well, particularly in leaving the final outcome for the world on a knife edge. Mrs B is a good judge of books and I’m pleased to say she was not wrong in recommending The Kraken Wakes. It builds slowly during phase one but once the sea tanks emerge from the ocean it becomes a gripping read. The final moments where the world has flooded is hard-hitting but completely apt when faced with our own reality. Written over 50 years ago, The Kraken Wakes is a brilliant depiction of a world crisis and the impractical way mankind responds to such a threat.