The Kraken Wakes
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The Kraken Wakes

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  3,111 ratings  ·  192 reviews
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.
Mass Market Paperback, 240 pages
Published June 28th 1973 (first published 1953)
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Jonathan

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...more
Manny
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 room
Almost setting my cortex alight
To find a new thing to go crack-boom
And blow up a xenobathite
Isn't it just ho...more
Paulo "paper books always" Carvalho
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 l...more
Simon
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 fa...more
Tony
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
Graham
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, particul...more
Nikki
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 reporter...more
Dan Schwent
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 ri...more
Sean Kennedy
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...more
Steve Merrick
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 b...more
Peter
"Procrastination and ineptitude has from the beginning marked the attitude of the Authorities......"

Many years ago I read and enjoyed Wyndham's more celebrated book 'Day of the Triffids' so when I spotted this book I could not resist giving it a go.

Could a book first published in 1953 about an alien invasion still have any relevance today? Certainly some parts are symptons of their time, there is the old Cold War frictions and people rely on telegraph and radio for their news rather than instan...more
Kate
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 wha...more
Erik
The Kraken Wakes, despite its really cool cover, has nothing to do with giant squids. Seriously, I picked that up and read all the way to the end, just WAITING for the appearance of the giant squid promised on the cover. There was no giant squid.

Who does that? Who promises giant squids and then reneges on that deal? It's like handing a plastic ice cream cone to a child. He'll be like, OH YEAH ICE CREAM. Until he tries to bite it and discovers that, nope, it's just plastic.

BUT ANYWAY.

This book wa...more
Tony
THE KRAKEN WAKES. (1953). John Wyndham. ****.
A married couple, both of whom are reporters for the E.B.C. (a fictional rival to the BBC) are on a vacation cruise when they happen to glance up and note that Mars seems exceptionally bright. Then they notice that suddenly there are three Mars-sized orbs that appear to be coming at them at a great speed. These orange orbs ultimately crash into the sea with a great hiss of boiling water. They don’t know what to think, so just put it down to meteorite...more
David Brown
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, th...more
Helen Kitson
Jun 25, 2012 Helen Kitson added it
Shelves: fiction
This one is a slow-burner, not as immediately gripping as 'The Day of the Triffids', or as eerie as 'The Midwich Cuckoos'. It also seems dated in its descriptions of a 1950s post-Imperialist Britain, with its paranoid distrust of Russia (who are first blamed for the mysterious events in the sea).

The story can seem rather slow to get going, but I think that accurately mirrors the news dissemination in a pre-Internet, pre-24-hour-news world. In those days it was possible to 'bury bad news' or not...more
Yvensong
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 gover...more
Vheissu
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”

...more
Ape
I love John Wyndham's books, this was the fourth I've read, and if I'm honest, it wasn't my favourite. Although it's brilliant and understated in the way it's told, it also makes it a little dry and slow, and in some ways, distanced as all we ever two is observe in the way the two main characters observe (they're journalists of a kind) rather than ever experience.

In a way, he is science fiction for people who don't normally read science fiction, because it is understated and very realistic in fe...more
Frances
We're on a Wyndham mission in our house at the moment - Joe picked up a bunch of great 70s Penguin editions in the charity shop, and I started off with this one, realising I'd never read it before (you kind of expect to have already done so, because of its being so well known).

One of the things I'd say was most interesting about it is that on one level it's a novel about the media - about how incidents are reported and how the public respond to them. The hero and heroine are broadcast journalis...more
pinknantucket
Haven't read any John Wyndham for years! Classic sci-fi...and interesting to read now as it is of such a different style and pace than modern novels. The events described take place over the course of years, rather than hours. There is space to explore some of the nuances of the main characters' relationships. There is no bleeding from orifices due to disease or dismembering of flesh due to alien attack. It is told as a kind of memoir or "reporting of the facts" by the narrator, which reminded m...more
Robert
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 tw...more
Sam
This is another superb tale from John Wyndham and while it may not be quite as engrossing as Day of the Triffids, it is still a superb story told through the experiences and writings of Mike Watson and his wife Phyllis as they report on events spanning more than five years. Wyndham has combined the best of alien forms and the fear of an intelligence and technology greater than our own to create a chilling tale, the ending of which is probably even more poignant today than ever before. A great re...more
Ruth
I picked up this book because I had recently finished Kraken by China Mieville and I have enjoyed other John Wyndham books (though it always surprises me). I had also been reading Lovecraft and this book reminded me of his monsters. I have a mixed reaction to this Wyndham as Mieville's is so much better (of course), but at the same time this Kraken is so much better than any Lovecraft I have read.

What made it better than Lovecraft? The monsters were slightly more interesting, and the characters...more
Mitchell
This is the second of John Wyndham’s excellent four-book stretch of science fiction novels, and I recall it generally being my favourite. It followed his hugely successful novel The Day of the Triffids, and repeats the theme of human society collapsing in the face of an alien intelligence.

Obviously there are a number of differences between the two novels, but from the viewpoint of a post-apocalyptic fiction fan, the key difference is timing. The Day of Triffids follows an apocalypse that occurs...more
Ignacio
Un tanto decepcionante este clásico de Wyndham. Me temo que su escritura posterior a El día de los trífidos le obligó a un enfoque muy diferente, más distante y frío. Fiel a su gusto por los cataclismos alienígenas, esta vez pone como narradores de la historia a una pareja de periodistas que relatan cómo la Tierra cae bajo una invasión extraterrestre que coloniza el fondo de los mares. La pareja a veces es testigo de los encuentros entre humanos e invasores, pero la mayor parte del tiempo observ...more
Raj
It starts with meteors falling from space into the ocean. Soon ships that try to explore the regions where they fell are sinking, and not long afterwards, no ships that ply the deep oceans are safe. But that's not all, sea-tanks start raiding coasts, and then the sea level itself starts to rise, slowly but inexorably.

This book is a slow burn, but goodness is it tense. It's like boiling a frog, it comes on so slowly that you don't realise just how tense you've got.

In some ways, the book is very m...more
David
There's a reason why John Wyndham's The Kraken Wakes isn't as well know as his other 'cosy catastrophe' novels, such as The Day of the Triffids and The Midwich Cuckoos, and that is that there's an awful lot of cosy before you get anywhere near the catastrophe.

The mysterious deep ocean-dwelling aliens are kept at a distance for the story's entirety, and their infrequent attacks are largely made known through dialogue from the novel's main characters; a terribly middle-class 1950s married journal...more
Andrew
This is a much over looked book. I do not want to give anything away but personnally I think the story is in a par with The day of the Triffids, has the same feel or fear and mystery and to me was totally new and fresh even though this topic has been covered many times since. This is one I can (and do re-read) often and just goes to show how a good story can made with such a simple premise.
Alice
This book is beyond words of amazement. First of all, I, like so many people, thought I'd see a big, slimy squid-like monster with red, fiery eyes with tentacles big enough to destroy cities, yet, it is my unwritten rule that although I can have many different ideas about how a book may be I should NEVER ASSUME.
I read my books with an open mind, waiting to be surprised because, we all know the phrase, one shouldn't judge the book by the cover.
So, regardless of the several ideas that floated in...more
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John Wyndham Parkes Lucas Beynon Harris was the son of a barrister. After trying a number of careers, including farming, law, commercial art and advertising, he started writing short stories in 1925. After serving in the civil Service and the Army during the war, he went back to writing. Adopting the name John Wyndham, he started writing a form of science fiction that he called 'logical fantasy. A...more
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