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Chocky by John Wyndham

Chocky (original 1968; edition 1970)

by John Wyndham

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1,055297,963 (3.7)85
Authors:John Wyndham
Info:London : Penguin, 1970.
Collections:Your library, Cheez's books
Tags:science fiction

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Chocky by John Wyndham (1968)


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Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
This is classic science fiction written in a simple style. Matthew is about 11 years old when he develops what his parents Mary and David believe to be an imaginary friend. They are a bit concerned; after all, 11 years old is a bit old for such a development, but hope that it will soon be outgrown. They become more concerned when Matthew begins asking his science and math teacher obscure questions on subjects he really has no reason to know about, and begins performing actions that he previously was unable to do (swimming, painting artistically pleasing pictures). When asked Matthew claims that "Chocky" helped him. His parents consult a psychiatrist, and are appalled when he suggests that they consider the possibility that Chocky is real.

This is a short, engaging read. It's a "think" novel, not an action novel. While it's the story of alien contact, it's not scary or menacing, but rather actually a quite comfortable read.

3 stars ( )
  arubabookwoman | Sep 12, 2015 |
Despite the fact that the social elements of this story have not aged well at all, the story itself is a great read. Two stories are going on, actually. The one between Chocky and Matthew, as well as the story between those two characters and the human environment they are in. ( )
  KVHardy | Jan 2, 2015 |
Book: Chocky

Author: John Wyndham

Published: 1968

Review: This is a story a science fiction story. A family; mother, father, adopted son and daughter who live in England. One day, the father notices his son having a sort of debate with noone. He is just turned 12 but all of a sudden seems to have an invisible friend like his sister did when she was small. The father and mother both deal with this situation in their own ways but also are obviously very loving and supportive of their son. The theme is that of aliens or extraterrestrials and their interaction with others. Another theme included a critique of wasteful use of finite energy sources with inefficient engines. “Most of your power is being used to build machines to consume power faster and faster, while your sources of power remain finite.” The author also briefly touched on the dangers. The government and/or big business wanting to take advantage of a small boy and an alien to the point that they kidnapped him and did medical procedures without the knowledge or permission of his parents. Its simple little story both entertaining and fun. It was written in the early years of environmental concerns and big brother government.

First words: It was in the spring of the year that Matthew reached twelve that I first became aware of Chocky.

Last words: They had made a nice job of it. It looked just as if it had always been inscribed: Awarded to Chocky for a valorous deed.

Rating: I liked this story, it was easy to read but simple almost written more on a child’s level. I liked it 4 stars worth but really it is probably a 3 star book and really doesn’t belong on the 1001 list. I will give in 3.5 stars. ( )
  Kristelh | Dec 10, 2014 |
Chocky was the last novel John Wyndham wrote before his death (although a semi-finished one called Web was published posthumously) and for some reason I never read it while I was in high school – although I remember flicking through a copy at the library and not being intrigued enough to properly read it, just as I wasn’t intrigued by The Trouble With Lichen. I suppose it’s because unlike his classic big four novels, neither of these deals with an apocalypse, a post-apocalyptic setting, or (in the case of The Midwich Cuckoos) an apocalypse averted. I really am ashamed of my teenage self, because Chocky is as imaginative and captivating as any of Wyndham’s better-known works.

Matthew Gore is an ordinary eleven-year-old schoolboy in the London suburbs whose parents become somewhat concerned when he develops an imaginary friend named Chocky, carrying on vocal arguments with a voice that only he can hear. Not only is he a bit too old for an imaginary friend, but Chocky appears to be teaching him some advanced scientific and mathematical concepts, and asks strange questions of her own. Matthew begins to draw local landscapes with spindly, distorted figures, as if seen from another viewpoint. To a science fiction reader it’s obvious from the first chapter or so that Matthew has developed a telepathic link with an alien intelligence, but Chocky is nevertheless an eerie and unsettling novel, narrated from the point of view of Matthew’s concerned father.

As in any Wyndham novel, there’s a wise character who cottons on to what’s happening before anyway else does. And as in any Wyndham novel, it also feels quite dated, although it’s fortunately not quite as unwittingly sexist as The Midwich Cuckoos; though Chocky is narrated by Matthew’s father, both his parents have an equal footing in responding to the issue (even though the mother is often portrayed as unreasonable.) But as I mentioned in my review of The Midwich Cuckoos, it’s hard to fault Wyndham for being a product of his age. Brian Aldiss, writing the introduction to this 2010 Penguin edition, describes it as “an antique charm.”

Anyway, this is where the similarities with his previous books end. As I said earlier, Chocky is not an apocalyptic novel, and it also seems to reject Wyndham’s thesis (presented to a greater or lesser degree in all four of his most famous novels) that two foreign intelligences will inevitably fight to the death. Readers of Wyndham’s previous novels will certainly feel a bit of frisson when Chocky asks Matthew (more than once) exactly where Earth is, and comments that it’s a lot nicer than where she’s from. I won’t spoil the plot, but suffice to say that Chocky is one of Wyndham’s more optimistic stories. The final line in the book – which is actually an image – is surprisingly and deeply affecting, and works on multiple levels. Chocky is an excellent novella, which is perhaps not as great as Wyndham’s more well-known novels – but then, that’s a high bar to set. Essential reading for any fans of science fiction. ( )
  edgeworth | Jul 31, 2014 |
This is a short novel which I expected to finish in two sittings but it took an entire week, so I guess I never really got into it.

Sometimes novels date in unexpected ways. When Matthew went missing for ten days, I simply didn't buy the muted reaction from his parents. Even in 1968, I don't believe a child's disappearance would have been taken lightly at all, and nor would I expect many children to ever come back after they go missing for so long, but nowadays I'm sure the first thing the doctor would have been looking for upon a child's return is signs of sexual abuse. This didn't even come up in the story, and I wonder what John Wyndham would have made of my modern reaction.

Perhaps one reason I failed to get into this story was that it was told second hand via the boy's father, who by nature of his outsider status, was never really able to explain what was going on.

Another thing I didn't buy was Chocky's ability to 'channel' through the boy, yet still be unable to make use of words outside Matthew's limited vocabulary. Surely if you can do all those other things you can override that one small issue! That conversation therefore felt like a bit of a hack, to mask the fact that no one is really meant to know what Chocky is, or where it came from.

I found this thought provoking, but just a little unsatisfying. ( )
  LynleyS | Feb 8, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John Wyndhamprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lord, PeterCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Salwowski, MarkCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schulz, Robert E.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Willock, HarryCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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It was in the spring of the year that Matthew reached twelve that I first became aware of Chocky.
Reality is relative. Devils, evil spirits, witches and so on become real enough to the people who believe in them. Just as God is to people who believe in Him. When people live their lives by their beliefs objective reality is almost irrelavant
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Book description
Matthew’s parents are worried. At eleven, he’s much too old to have an imaginary friend, yet they find him talking to and arguing with a presence that even he admits is not physically there. This presence – Chocky – causes Matthew to ask difficult questions and say startling things: he speaks of complex mathematics and mocks human progress. Then, when Matthew does something incredible, it seems there is more than the imaginary about Chocky. Which is when others become interested and ask questions of their own: who is Chocky? And what could it want with an eleven-year-old boy?

A story of innocence and alien contact, Chocky is a sinister tale of manipulation and experimentation from afar.
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Matthew's parents are worried. At eleven, he's much too old to have an imaginary friend, yet they find him talking to and arguing with a presence that even he admits is not physically there.

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141042184, 014119149X

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