The Kraken Wakes
The Kraken Wakes by John Wyndam
Another winner from British SF master John Wyndam. The Kraken Wakes imagines an invasion of the Deep parts of our ocean by a malevolent force from the outer solar system (Neptune? Jupiter? I can’t remember). After they settle in and start mucking around down there, they show that they were up to no good by destroying our sea lanes and ships, melting the ice caps, murdering people who live on the coast, and generally trying to extinguish us. It’s a dark story, but pretty good. A few thoughts:
- As in Day of the Triffids, Wyndam focuses as much on the stupidity and terrible choices humans make in the face of bad events. The slow burn of Kraken lets Wyndam explore how governments fail to respond to real problems, how we hand-wave and avoid the truth of the thing until it’s too late to stop. If this book weren’t written in 1953, I would suggest it’s a parable about Global Warming. Hell, you should read it that way just ‘cuz.
- There’s truly horrifying and awesome moment in the book when the creatures have begun invading the land, driving up in egg-shaped “tanks” and deploying sticky tentacles that collect organic matter into compressed, writhing, screaming balls. These then roll into the ocean and, presumably, down to the deeps. One character suggests that it’s the monstrous equivalent of shrimping. I was particularly horrified until I thought of Katamari Damancy and its rolled-up balls of stuff. When you roll a person into the ball in that game, they wiggle and scream–and it’s funny. Poor bastards.
- My favorite part of the book is the poor scientist who sees it all coming. Each time he suggests that something is happening, people call him a fool and ignore his advice. Then, when the thing he predicted has come to pass and they’re trying to deal with it, he suggests something else and they call him a fool again. He compares himself to Cassandra, and is right.
A little slow at parts — not the cracking thriller that Day of the Triffids is–but a good book nonetheless.