Feb 032020
 

The Kraken Wakes by John Wyndham is a 1953 novel about an invading force from beneath the sea. Sadly, there is no actual Kraken. Well, there might be, but we never see it.

John Wyndham is better known for writing Day of the Triffids but this book is another one of his “cozy catastrophes.” A mysterious species beneath the sea makes life hard for humanity. Ships are sunk. Coastal towns are depleted of their population. Bad shit goes down and the world nearly ends.

The main characters are a married couple who work for a broadcast station. They are not remotely heroes. They are the people interviewing military people, scientists and eyewitnesses. They gather together accounts and try to relay the growing danger to the rest of the world.

And this is where the book becomes really interesting and still has relevance to a modern audience. The invasion takes place over several years. At every point, scientists and military people freak out, but the government, financial leaders and pundits downplay the threat.

Monsters are sinking ships? Well, we can’t limit shipping because that would hurt the economy. The monsters are superior to us? Well, that is just unpatriotic. The end of the world is coming? Well, that would require doing something about and that would interfere with the current political agenda.

It feels like a naked allegory for global warming, but really, it could be an allegory for any global crisis. The fact the author used to work as a censor for the military gives the work another level of dread as he plausibly explains every level of resistance. The end of the world is coming and despite seeing it coming, we are unlikely to do anything.

The other cool part about the book is the alien quality of the invaders. We never actually see them. They exist at pressures that humans can’t survive at. The aliens use bizarre tactics and truly feel like a species that thinks differently. We never see the creatures, but they might be one of my favorites.

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