John Wyndham - The Kraken Wakes (1)
How refreshing, after reading a lot of idea driven, gimmicky SF, to discover this. I found it in the bookstore run by the Friends of the Berkeley public library, among pulp paperbacks, and though I'd never heard of Wyndham, was intrigued by the cover art and the fact it had come out on Penguin. The story is a crossover between Capeks wonderful War with the Newts and Well's War of the Worlds, with an extraterrestrial menace, quite possbily flying in from Jupiter, settling in the deeps of earths oceans, and proceeding to exterminate the bothersome land mammals. The story is gripping - though the solutions's alomost perfect parallel to Wells' is a bit disappointing - but the true strength of the book lies in the two main characters, a married couple of radio documentary writers, who witness most of the events from close up, but have hardly any active part in the matters at all. This viewpoint lends the story enormous credibility, based on the one hand in the strong execution of characterization and background, but also in the familiarity of events unfolding on a large scale that one is powerless to stop or alter, yet keeps reflecting upon and discussing as though one did. Finally, the acerbic depiction of cold war diplomacy at the height of madness is the crowning piece on a very nice cake.