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The Kraken Wakes

3.74  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,366 Ratings  ·  276 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 May 30th 2000 by Penguin Books (first published 1953)
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The Stand by Stephen KingThe Road by Cormac McCarthyThe Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins1984 by George OrwellWorld War Z by Max Brooks
Best Post-Apocalyptic Fiction
152nd out of 834 books — 2,756 voters
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. TolkienThe Catcher in the Rye by J.D. SalingerCharlotte's Web by E.B. WhiteLord of the Flies by William GoldingThe Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
Best Books of the Decade: 1950's
182nd out of 664 books — 922 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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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
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Apatt
May 30, 2015 Apatt rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, pre-80s-sf
Every time I review a John Wyndham I can not resist defending him against the “Cosy Catastrophe” label foisted upon him by Brian 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 sai
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Manny
Jan 09, 2010 Manny rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
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 h
...more
Simon
May 22, 2012 Simon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
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
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Laura
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
...more
Tony
May 04, 2014 Tony rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-again
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
David Sarkies
Jan 20, 2015 David Sarkies rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Another John Wyndham invasion story
28 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
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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
Oscar
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 Wake
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Daavid
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 par
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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
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Dan Schwent
Dec 16, 2009 Dan Schwent rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: early-sf
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
Graham
Jun 02, 2014 Graham rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
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
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Sandy
May 11, 2015 Sandy rated it really liked it
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 p ...more
Damon
Apr 07, 2016 Damon rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
Good read. Fast.
Judy
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 th
...more
Sean Kennedy
Mar 09, 2013 Sean Kennedy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 24, 2011 Steve Merrick rated it it was amazing
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
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
Vheissu
Feb 06, 2012 Vheissu rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy-horror
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”

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Alice Lippart
Jun 12, 2016 Alice Lippart rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Written quite realistically with the danger lurking around the corners of the story until suddenly all hell breaks loose. And it's TERRIFYING.
Jonathon Fletcher
Jan 15, 2015 Jonathon Fletcher rated it it was amazing
“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
...more
David
Mar 28, 2014 David rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Tony
Jun 30, 2013 Tony rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
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
Jul 19, 2012 David Brown rated it it was amazing
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
Peter
Oct 16, 2012 Peter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"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
Robert
Jan 29, 2009 Robert rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
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
Marisa Goldsborough
Apr 02, 2016 Marisa Goldsborough rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
I've happily given this book five stars! :)

I really loved The Kraken Wakes as I did his other novel, The Midwich Cuckoos, which I have also read. The author's style of writing and eloquence in story telling are amazing; he is both witty and insightful.

The two main characters Mike and Phyllis are wonderful, as is their relationship with one another. I frequently found myself both laughing out loud and at others deeply disturbed. His writes very cleverly about the human condition and you can't he
...more
Neil
Nov 03, 2015 Neil rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of John Wyndhams lesser-known novels.A strain of sci-fi he liked to call"logical fantasy", ingenious,horrifying and well told.An unusual" cosy catastrophe".A good read,
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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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