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The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham

The Midwich Cuckoos (original 1957; edition 1979)

by John Wyndham

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
1,878523,668 (3.81)1 / 220
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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Showing 1-5 of 50 (next | show all)
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 |
Great premise. Lackluster storytelling.

In John Wyndham’s The Midwich Cuckoos, the residents of an English village experience an unusual alien invasion. One day all the people fall unconscious, and the next day they awaken, without any awareness of the event. The military intervenes but won’t say why. A few weeks later, the women of the village discover they are inexplicably pregnant. To ward off panic, the village bonds together to keep the pregnancies a secret and to communally raise the children the best they can. The only problem is that the children are otherworldly: golden-eyed and identical, they have the ability to control other people’s minds. Soon, the villagers are the captives of these children, whose purpose is the eventual conquering of the human race.

Wyndham sets up the story nicely with the discovery of the Day-out, the period in which the villagers fall unconscious. And he builds the suspense when the women discover they are pregnant. But after that, the story goes off the rails, primarily because of his method of storytelling.

The narrator is Richard Gayford, a relatively new resident of Midwich. Early in the book, he switches from telling his view of events to a more omniscient perspective, based on what he learns from other people. Overall, it doesn’t work because so much of the story is told off-screen, as it were. Everything is told after the fact, so you don’t get a sense of the immediacy of events. For all the talk about the capital-C Children, they don’t show up much.

The predominant character in the book is Gordon Zellaby, an historian who loves to pontificate about the significance of the Children. Wyndham spends too much time on Zellaby’s discourse so that the book becomes an academic analysis of the Children. It’s such a detached perspective that the reader never really can empathize with the experience of the villagers.

Last year, I read Wyndham’s The Day of the Triffids, which I definitely enjoyed. It had that sense of emotional connection that Midwich lacks.

( )
  louis.arata | Jul 31, 2015 |
Genre: Science Fiction
Rating: Very Good
Made into the movie Village of the Damned.

A small town of no known importance is suddenly blocked off from the rest of the world, and all its inhabitants are cut down. At first the authorities assume they are all dead. Instead they discover the people and animals and every living thing in Midwich is asleep. After 24 hours, everyone awakes and all appear to be fine.

But then it is discovered that every woman of child bearing age who has been hit by the DayOut is with child.

Very intriguing take on alien invasions. Quite different from the movie, of course. ( )
  majkia | Feb 26, 2015 |
“ The important thing about the cuckoo is not how the egg
got into the nest, nor why that nest was chosen; the real
matter for concern comes after it has been hatched- what,
in fact, it will attempt to do next.”

I find myself rather conflicted by The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham. The basic story was well thought out, very disconcerting and really spoke to the cold war fears that were prevalent at the time of his writing it, but unfortunately, the story is very dated and it was hard to accept the premise when one is constantly rolling ones eyes. Published in 1957, the story unfolds in the small town of Midwich where a weird phenomena happens whereby the entire village falls asleep for 24 house, and when they wake, every woman in the town who is of child-bearing years is pregnant.

For a story where so much of the drama involves women, the viewpoint is very male. Men try to figure out what happened. Men decide how this is going to be handled. Men make the birth arrangements and decide how these strange children are to be reared. The nominal leader of the women actually is told by her husband and the town doctor what to say and when to say it.

If there is any value in The Midwich Cuckoos today it is the fact that it is like a small time capsule giving us insight into people’ mindset in 1957, the dominant role played by men, the important placed on survival of the species and their lack of scientific knowledge. My biggest negative was the endless blatherings on mankind’s place in the universe, general philosophy and ethics. If there had been a little more action and a little less talk, this book may well have stood the test of time in a much better manner. ( )
1 vote DeltaQueen50 | Feb 15, 2015 |
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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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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 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 3 descriptions

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