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The Kraken Wakes

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  7,305 ratings  ·  574 reviews
It started with fireballs raining down from the sky and crashing into the oceans' deeps. Then ships began sinking mysteriously and later 'sea tanks' emerged from the deeps to claim people . . .

For journalists Mike and Phyllis Watson, what at first appears to be a curiosity becomes a global calamity. Helpless, they watch as humanity struggles to survive now that water - one
Paperback, 240 pages
Published August 18th 2008 by Penguin Books Ltd (first published 1953)
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Average rating 3.78  · 
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Feb 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-shelf, sci-fi
I will probably always nod to Wyndham's Day of the Triffids as a crowning piece of SF, but The Kraken Wakes takes on a very similar tone, albeit very different problems.

The two both have a heavy focus on science and rationality in the face of unfathomable problems. Triffids had mass blindness turning most of humanity into meat for ambulatory plants while Kraken shows us just how lame we are against deep-ocean dwelling aliens despite nukes... especially when the icebergs melt. I especially loved
May 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 09, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 04, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: BBC Radio Listeners
Recommended to Bettie by: Laura

Description: 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 d
Jonathan Terrington

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
‘I don’t care. I don’t mind working hard when there’s hope. It was having no more hope that was too much for me.’

This may come as a spoiler to people but I have to get this off my chest because I absolutely detest books whose title promises something that the book does not deliver:

The is no bloody kraken in this book.

The kraken only appears as a reference to a poem by Tennyson in which the ills of the world are unleashed. And while this describes the story of the book perfectly, it does little f
Jul 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 24, 2011 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
May 01, 2018 rated it liked it
This is the fourth of Wyndham's books that I have read and I think it's not quite as likeable as some of the others, but I still enjoyed it. This book deals with the unknown deeps, things that crawl up from the depths, and even climate change to some degree. There's a lot to like in this story, but I didn't feel quite as drawn into it as I had for some of the previous ones, possibly because I didn't find the characters quite as compelling.

This story starts with Mike and Phyllis Watson, a husband
David Sarkies
Feb 21, 2013 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
Jan 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy-horror

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 Wake

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
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
Dan Schwent
Mar 15, 2008 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
David (דוד)
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
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
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
Jan 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great yarn. Fireballs from the skies, inept governments, climate change and sea tanks with stingers. I loved the English Broadcasting Corporations (EBC) and Phylis is a great character. Her husband Watson is a bit slow and a bit useless. This is a great science fiction novel split into a prologue and then three phases. We never really find out what is in the Deep Seas and that takes nothing away from the plot. So glad I decided to read this story.
May 11, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Tim Pendry

'The Kraken Wakes' has stood the test of time even though it is very much of its time - including the satire on the Cold War politics of the early 1950s, on industrial relations, on the media, its pre-Suez belief in the British Empire as a viable superpower and the gender relations.

It is also a very fine science fiction horror which has the human race thrown back into pre-industrial civilisation by a threat from the skies which mimics the trajectory of 'War of The Worlds' from beginning to end b
Apr 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved it. It's the story of a slowly unfolding seaborne apocalypse, followed through the eyes of married radio reporters Mike and Phyllis, as the world tries to come to terms with an alien invasion from the deep sea. I think I prefer this one to Day of the Triffids, the pace is nice and slow and there is a good mix of melancholy end-of-the-world feeling and adventure. ...more
Jun 18, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: june-2019, abandoned
I have read and enjoyed several of John Wyndham's books to date, despite the fact that his plots and science-fiction focus are not part of my usual reading fare. I found the storyline of The Kraken Wakes intriguing, and was expecting that I would be pulled into the story quite quickly.

However, this novel feels like a real anomaly in Wyndham's oeuvre. It took too long to get going, and I did not connect at all to the story. The narrative voice was relatively dull, although it is perhaps fitting
Steve Merrick
Nov 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Alice Lippart
Jun 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
Written quite realistically with the danger lurking around the corners of the story until suddenly all hell breaks loose. And it's TERRIFYING. ...more
Jonathon Fletcher
“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
May 25, 2014 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
Aug 31, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Callum McAllister
Sep 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
I kept wondering why the guy on the cover is so relaxed and then it dawned on me - because even when the world is ending everyone mostly goes about their lives as normal. And they realise it's happening in slow, mostly undramatic, extremely unsexy ways. ...more
Probably more a 3.5 because it got better towards the end.
Dec 07, 2017 rated it liked it
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). ...more
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John Wyndham/John Benyon Harris 9 63 May 05, 2019 10:31PM  
What's the Name o...: SOLVED. Dystopian: London, flood, journalists, country house [s] 15 43 Jan 20, 2017 05:13PM  
John Wyndham in t...: Bocker and democracy 3 12 Dec 03, 2011 06:26AM  
John Wyndham in t...: The Age of Ostensible Reason 1 8 Nov 30, 2011 04:47AM  

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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'. ...more

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