This double disc entry in BBC Audiobooks’ Classic Sci-Fi range features two classic stories from John Wyndham – The Chrysalids and Survival.
Spanning both discs the main feature in the release is The Chrysalids.
First aired in 1981 this is an eery and dramatic tale of the village
Waknut whose inhabitants seek to drive out any signs of abnormality.
This aggressive pursuit of normality knows no limits with even the
villager’s own children being inspected at birth for any signs of
‘deformity’ before being approved as permanent members of the community.
The story focuses on David who slowly comes to realise he’s a
‘deviant’ in a community which tolerates no departure from the norm.
David dare not reveal his secret even to his own father and his only
hope of a safe and happy life is to flee the village.
Much of the tension is derived from constant threat of being
discovered – the paranoia of the villagers is always present and serves
as a constant reminder of the fate awaiting David if he’s discovered.
The early scenes make it clear that even David’s own father would
have no hesitation in reporting any deformity to the authorities
ensuring that David’s isolation and fear of discovery is absolute.
As with all good sci-fi this story has a message to tell and with
religious extremism and the unquestioning adherence to doctrine playing
such an important part in current world affairs The Chrysalids
has as much to say today as it did when Wyndham wrote the original
novel in 1955 with its suggestions of a post-nuclear apocalyptic world.
Rounding off the second disc is Survival, a chilling and
atmospheric short story which follows the fate of a stranded spaceship
crew and the depths people will go to to ensure their survival. Once
one member of the ship’s passenger list is set on surviving nothing and
no-one is allowed to get in their way.
The quiet and virtually unmentioned disappearances of characters is
a nice directorial touch which adds reality to the chilling truth
behind their fate.