The Chrysalids is a science fiction story by John Wyndham, a popular twentieth-century British writer. It takes place in the future, many years after a nuclear war has devastated large areas of the world. The society of Waknuk in Labrador has survived, but it is a primitive agricultural theocracy reminiscent of Salem, Massachusetts at the time of the Salem witch-hunts. However, in Waknuk it isn't witches but mutants that the people fear. Radiation from the war still causes frequent mutations in plants, animals and humans and the people adhere to a strict religious code, which does not tolerate deviation of any kind. Their religion demands that anything born with any type of imperfection be destroyed. Imperfect crops are burnt and animals slaughtered. Human 'Deviations' are either killed or exiled to a lawless area called the Fringes, which lies to the south. Beyond there lie the Badlands where the whole of nature is distorted, and further south still are the Blacklands where everything is burnt and nothing will grow.
Few people have any curiosity about what lies beyond, though there are rumors of other countries inhabited by strange people.
The story is told from the point of view of David, the son of one of the most powerful men in Waknuk, and one of the most vehement in upholding the strict and cruel religious code. As a child, David makes friends with Sophie, a girl who has six toes on each foot. Her parents have hidden her from the authorities and they beg David not to tell. When their secret is accidentally discovered, David sees at first hand the relentless cruelty of the society in which he lives. However, he has his own secret. David is one of a group of children who can communicate with each other telepathically. He is,