The Chrysalids

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“It's often said that Science Fiction is the literature of change.” (Treitel). When a society is going through a period in which they develop many new technologies, science fiction stories often emerge. The feelings and fears of that society are expressed in science fiction. The Chrysalids, a science fiction novel, incorporates characteristics of its genre by being set in a different world, by relating to current events and by showing how destructive power can be.

Setting plays a prominent role in defining a science fiction story. “Science fiction texts are often set in the future, in space, on a different world, or in a different universe or dimension.” (“Definition”). John Wyndham's novel, The Chrysalids, is set centuries in the future. “But, Uncle, if we don't try to be like the Old People and rebuild the things that have been lost, what can we do?” (Wyndham 79). The word science fiction brings to mind futuristic worlds full of whirring machines and shiny metals. This novel takes an alternate approach; it shows a world so devastated by nuclear war that it has actually regressed, and yet it is still a possible future. In addition to being set in the future, this novel shows a changed Earth. “... An Offense was sometimes quite an impressive occasion... My father... would call us all together, including everyone who worked on the farm. We would all kneel while he proclaimed our repentance and led prayers for forgiveness. The next morning we would all be up before daylight and gather in the yard. As the sun rose we would sing a hymn while my father ceremonially slaughtered the two-headed calf, four-legged chicken, or whatever kind of Offense it happened to be.” (Wyndham 18). The world John Wyndham has created is so different from the current reality, it is almost a separate entity. In the fictional reality, the people are terrified of anything different from what they perceive to be the norm. They kill, burn or cast out anything considered to be a deviation....
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