Writing what he termed “logical fantasy,” John Wyndham cast an unsettling shadow across the apparently placid landscape of post-World War II England. The literary heir of H. G. Wells, Wyndham blended fantasy, horror, and science fiction into a seminal body of work that resonates in the tales of many writers, including Richard Matheson, Clive Barker, James Herbert, and Stephen King. Generally overlooked in the United States, where it went out of print, The Chrysalids is the centerpiece of Wyndham’s three most important novels, the psychological and creative bridge between the Wells-inspired The Day of the Triffids (1951) and his startling fusion of science fiction and horror, The Midwich Cuckoos (1957), which also appeared under the title Village of the Damned. The story was filmed as Village of the Damned in 1960 and 1995.
As their beautiful Sealand rescuer tells David and Rosalind, “The essential quality of living is change; change is evolution; and we are part of it.” In Wyndham’s fiction, the world is in constant flux, and most people are either unwilling to face change or too eager to capitalize on it for their own advantage. Caught in this paradox are the Wyndham protagonists, ordinary men, women, and children pummeled by the past and present into resolutions of transcendence and new, meaningful undertakings. No guarantees await them in the future. Sealand, to which David, Rosalind, and Petra...
(The entire section is 524 words.)