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The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham

The Midwich Cuckoos (original 1957; edition 1979)

by John Wyndham

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1,805503,878 (3.82)1 / 200
Title:The Midwich Cuckoos
Authors:John Wyndham
Info:Penguin Books (1979), Paperback
Collections:Read, Your library

Work details

The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham (1957)

  1. 30
    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. 00
    More Than Human by Theodore Sturgeon (Michael.Rimmer)
  3. 00
    The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham (timspalding)

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English (48)  Hungarian (1)  All languages (49)
Showing 1-5 of 48 (next | show all)
I gave this one up before anyone gave birth. I still don't know what's up, exactly, but I gather it involves aliens. Wyndham trudges through it. ( )
  ccatalfo | Jan 26, 2015 |
Midwich is an ordinary little English village until the strangest thing happens. Late one evening everyone simply falls unconscious. They stay that way for 24 hours, and anyone who steps within a certain radius of the village collapses as well. An aerial photograph shows a strange, ovoid object near the center of town. But the next day, when everyone wakes up, the object is gone. Things seem to be perfectly normal in Midwich until several weeks later when the inhabitants come to the shocking realization: every woman and girl of childbearing age in Midwich is pregnant.

John Wyndham's novels have been described as "cosy apocalypses," and that is certainly the case with The Midwich Cuckoos. Everything is told from the perspective of the village's inhabitants as they decide to keep the existence of a strange brood of children to themselves. The government is not unaware of the happenings in Midwich, but it has reasons of its own for keeping things low key and under wraps. What we have is a story of ordinary people trying to fit extraordinary circumstances into their comfort zones, and largely succeeding for a number of years.

There are manifestations of the Cold War mindset in the novel, but what is particularly interesting is how it speaks almost directly to the problem Europe is currently confronting with a growing Muslim minority that refuses to assimilate and which many see as a threat to the Western way of life. "Can any State, however tolerant, afford to harbour an increasingly powerful minority which it has no power to control?," asks a character at one point. In answer to his own question, he cites the problem of "...your sham idealists: the quite large number of people who profess ideals as a form of 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." A very timely question: Do our principles of personal liberty compel us to tolerate, even empower, those who are expressly intent on destroying us?

The Midwich Cuckoos is occasionally thoughtful, sometimes frightening, and always entertaining--highly recommended.

The novel has been filmed several times, but under the titles "Village of the Damned" and "Children of the Damned," so you may find the plot familiar even if you don't recognize the title.

The copy I read was the inexpensive e-book issued by Rosetta Books. It is full of typos and spacing errors. If you can find a used print copy, I would recommend that instead. ( )
4 vote StevenTX | Jan 23, 2015 |
The Basics

One day, everyone in Midwich just falls asleep. Then they all just wake up. It turns out that during this time, every woman in the village was impregnated. And as strange as that sounds, it’s only the beginning.

My Thoughts

So consider the look on my face when I found out that Village of the Damned was originally a book and that it was written by John Wyndham. It was a whole lotta happy. I’ve been meaning to get to this one for a couple of years now, and ultimately I thought it was good. It was suspenseful, it was eerie, and the concept alone is pure gold.

Then again, for whatever reason, Wyndham created as our hero here the most blow-hard of all blow-hards. The sort of guy in the science fiction flick who strokes his beard and chews his glasses while he considers every avenue, every possible fluctuation and permutation. And there were moments, folks, where that was just ridiculous to push through.

So why did I end up really enjoying it despite that? Because he also peppers the story with characters who happen to think Zellaby (the blow-hard in question) might just be full of it. Also, I can’t deny that Zellaby hits on some good points, which makes him more of a mixed bag. The guy that can annoy you in one breath and intrigue you in another, which made him seem very real, not just the scholar who’s always right. It made it so I could take in everything he said with varying degrees of skepticism and acceptance, just like the characters around him. Except for that “oh women are a mystery wrapped in an enigma” shit. He can keep that to himself.

Despite a character that verges on annoying, the story itself is well-thought-out and planned. It paces nicely. The fact that the solution to this problem is not a simple one is welcome, because it aids the conflict. The level of control the Children exert, particularly early on, is very scary. And that ending. The ending is absolutely worth the whole ride.

Final Rating

4/5 ( )
  Nickidemus | Sep 18, 2014 |
I'm only halfway through the book so far but I felt the need to make notes on why I am so impressed so far. It's the book "The Village of The Damned" was based on. I haven't seen the movie in years but I remember it being a creepy horror movie that wasn't anything too special. The book however is far more than that. The author uses this idea for the book as a way to delve into the human psych. Questioning nature versus nurture and many other philosophical ideas that could be attached to this storyline. This is no quick read horror/sci-fi book even though it's only a few hundred pages. I find myself having to go back and read certain parts again to fully understand what the author is trying to get at. However, some could read this book without a pause and find it entertaining enough without digesting the underlying questions but then it would be just another King or Koonz book. People looking for a book with some depth and a creepy plot line will really like this book. If I have anything to add after finishing the book... I'll come back to add more. Ok, finished and my review still stands. ( )
  yougotamber | Aug 22, 2014 |
It's easy to forget how good this novel is, but a quick re-read makes clear the amount of terror at the idea of this sort of slow "invasion" that was present in the Cold War West. There are some instances of sexism that are glaringly obvious to a contemporary reader, but Wyndham's use of language and slow-building terror make this a still-compelling example of the genre. ( )
  KelMunger | May 28, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 48 (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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One of the luckiest accidents in my wife's life is that she happened to marry a man who was born on the 26th of September.
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Wikipedia in English (1)

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
Haiku summary

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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:59:04 -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 3 descriptions

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