The Kraken Wakes

Author: John Wyndham
Starring: Jonathan Cake, Saira Todd and David Fleeshman
BBC Audio
RRP: 12.99
ISBN: 978 1 4056 7787 5
Available 06 August 2007

At first, the fireballs seemed to be nothing more than a dazzling display of lights in the sky, plunging into the deepest oceans and disappearing without trace. But when ships started sinking inexplicably and the sea-lanes became impassable it seemed that the world was facing a threat of unprecedented proportions. Mike and Phyllis Watson, both radio journalists, are caught up at the centre of events, well aware that it's not the cold war or international conflicts that are causing these events, but something infinitely more deadly - an alien invasion. And that's not all: the sea level is rising, the ice caps are melting, London and other cities are flooding, millions of people are drowning and ecological disaster looms. And whatever the alien beings are, they have begun to emerge from the sea...

The BBC's radio play adaptation of John Wyndham's The Kraken Wakes was originally broadcast on Radio 4 in 1998.

At the story's heart is a science fiction tale full of contemporary resonance's, from the fear of global warming to the distrust of official information and propaganda, and the ultimate fear of a challenge to the supremacy of human beings on Earth.

I have to admit that I found this a little too similar in content to Wyndham's earlier work The Day of the Triffids - which was transformed into a radio play in 1968. And, on balance, I actually found that play much more engaging than The Kraken Wakes.

The biggest issue I had with this recording was the small cast. Some of the vocal performances are not overly impressive - especially were American accents are called for.

This CD release also includes a detailed sleeve note recounting the making of the radio serialisation, written by Andrew Pixley. Although why Pixley's name is shouted from the rooftops is anyone's guess (He's mentioned on the back cover and at the end of the sleeve note). It's not as though Pixley is an expert on John Wyndham. To be perfectly honest, anyone could have written these. A quick Google and a look through the BBC's archives would have provided all the information a work experience student would have needed to write them.

While this is an interesting adaptation of Wyndham's original novel, it's far from an essential purchase.

Nick Smithson

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