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The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham

The Midwich Cuckoos (original 1957; edition 1999)

by John Wyndham

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
1,936573,532 (3.8)1 / 232
Title:The Midwich Cuckoos
Authors:John Wyndham
Info:Buccaneer Books (1999), Hardcover, 247 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:science fiction, horror, england

Work details

The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham (1957)

  1. 50
    The Chrysalids by John Wyndham (SomeGuyInVirginia)
    SomeGuyInVirginia: Each book compliments the other, describing the same fundamental theme from two points of view. I enjoyed the Midwich Cuckoos more.
  2. 20
    The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham (timspalding)
  3. 01
    More Than Human by Theodore Sturgeon (Michael.Rimmer)

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English (52)  Hungarian (1)  All languages (53)
Showing 1-5 of 52 (next | show all)
creepy. I can't remember exactly when I first read this, it was some time after Penelope Lively's Astercote, and reinforced the impression that villages were terrible places to live, from which there was no escape.
Some of the language seems a little dated now, as well as the attitude that weak and feeble women should be sent away from danger, but overall an interesting experiment in how "ordinary" and "next generation" humans might behave. ( )
  jkdavies | Jun 14, 2016 |
This is a truly original bit of sci-fi which, although not terribly well written, has a great plot and, as all good sci-fi must, continues to raise relevant questions for the human race to consider.

The village of Midwich finds itself the scene of a mysterious phenomenon: every childbearing woman present in the village on a particular day becomes pregnant. The resulting progeny are human to only a certain extent. It is the extent to which they supercede humanity in their abilities that eventually provides a threat that must be dealt with.

There is much to like in this short novel. The plot is original and you are driven onward by a curiosity to see exactly what happens next, particularly as the children grow older.

And as they do, Wyndham does a good job of bringing in moral and
ethical dilemmas which confront the characters and using these for the reflective reader to consider when thinking about how humanity currently conducts itself. Issues relating to our relationship with other species of animal, evolution, the treatment of minorities, the legal position of minors in relation to criminal activity and even moral issues surrounding pregnancy and illegitimate offspring. It would make a good set text for a school or basis for discussion for a book club.

What lets the book down is Wydham’s lack of flair when it comes to his writing style. It’s a bit stilted. Me and the missus read this book together out loud to each other and often had to reread parts that simply didn’t scan because of the way the writing was constructed. There was some pretty archaic vocabulary too even for when this was published.

You can also tell that it’s ideas, not characters, which power his writing. None of the characters was particularly well developed and the narrator was the least developed of any I’ve read since Powell’s infamously formless Nick Jenkins. I didn’t particularly care what happened to any of them and, for a novel with a very real threat against humanity, that was a let down.

Still, for a novel which isn’t particularly well written, it is memorable and has had its own unique impact on the sci-fi genre. For that alone, it’s worth a read ( )
  arukiyomi | Jan 2, 2016 |
Sleepy Midwich most certainly is, untill the Dayout happens.
A pleasant book, interesting in its description of how a community handles an event like this.
Different people acting differently, but as a whole, the community holds together.

The ending is not a surprise, but not a disappointment either.

I liked the book and am happy I've ticked off another one from the 1001-list :-) ( )
  BoekenTrol71 | Dec 27, 2015 |
It's creepy, but not scary. It's told almost completely from a third-person viewpoint... i.e., although the narrator was "involved" in the events in some sense, he is always on the periphery and, so, the discussion takes on an intellectual flavor. I loved it though. Just right for listening on those days. (Review based on audio version, listened to at 1.5 speed) ( )
  avanders | Aug 25, 2015 |
Cuckoos in the nest. In the nest of humanity.
Cuckoos that are intelligent but without empathy, upsetting all human Mid-wichian ways. What to do? What to do with the cold dangerous opportunism, when you see yourself as emphatic, as bound by laws religious and non-religious to show compassion?

Most of the book is spent on showing us that we do not recognize the cuckoos in the humanitarian nest: We cannot believe they are all that bad: "I know when I was a child there were injustices which positively made me burn inside. If i had had the strength to do what I wanted to do it would have been dreadful, really dreadful, I assure you", says one of the village sweet old ladies when the cuckoo killed the first time, not grasping anything but the child-like innocent superficial look of the cuckoo. Or we see, but cannot do anything with what we see because: "Your more liberal, responsibly minded and religious people will be greatly troubled over the ethical position. Opposed to any form of drastic action at all, you will have your true idealist - and also your sham idealist: the quite large number of people who profess ideals as a premium for other-life-insurance, and are content to lay up slavery and destitution for their descendants so long as they are enabled to produce personal copybooks of elevated views at the gate of heaven", as put by the book´s invading Cuckoos themselves.

The book raises a difficult question: How do we defend humanity against opportunism? What to do with non-compassionate when humanity as a system is built on empathy?

Do we need to answer the question? Are there any life-threatening anti-humanitarian opportunism unfolding itself amongst us half-blind believing-ourselves-to-be-quite-emphatic mid-everything-beings? Who gains from the production of weapons? The inequality of the distribution of wealth? CO2 quotas? The ice melting? Will it enslave our children and children´s children to turn a blind eye towards it? Where does the opportunists´ opportunity come from? Has the mid-majority´s blindness, idealism - and sham idealism (which of course is opportunism in itself) anything to do with it? Lack of courage? Laziness? Selfishness?

By choosing aliens as cuckoos the questions asked is not bound in time or space, but more important, having aliens as cuckoos underline Wyndham´s point: few of us recognize the opportunism in ourselves, it is quite alien. The one that in fact acts in the end, is a philosopher; We cannot do anything with our anti-humanitarian ways until we know ourselves. ( )
  Mikalina | Aug 21, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 52 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Wyndham, Johnprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Adam RobertsIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Doeve, EppoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ellis, DeanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
F. Nagy, PiroskaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fruttero, CarloForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hills, GillianCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hogarth, PaulCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Leger, PatrickCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lempiäinen, VesaCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lord, PeterCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lucentini, FrancoForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McShane, BarbaraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McShane, Patrick AlfayaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Meriranta, AnettaForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Minaříková, JitkaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Monicelli, GiorgioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Priest, ChristopherIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rekunen, VeikkoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Roberts, AdamIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Salwowski, MarkCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schwinger, LarryCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Severi, GiorgioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stege,GiselaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thole, KarelCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
van den Haak-Janzen, J.R.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Veillon, AdrienTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Willock, HarryCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zhouf, MartinCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Book description
Cuckoos lay eggs in other birds' nests. The clutch that was fathered on the quiet little village of Midwich, one night in September, proved to possess a monstrous will of its own. It promised to make the human race look as dated as the dinosaur
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140014403, Paperback)

Cuckoos lay eggs in other birds' nests. The clutch that was fathered on the quiet little village of Midwich, one night in September, proved to possess a monstrous will of its own. Imt promised to make the human race look as dated as the dinosaur.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:38 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

In the village of Midwich all the women of child-bearing age become pregnant overnight. When a violent incident occurs, the moral fabric of the village disintegrates and a battle for survival begins.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 2 descriptions

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