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Chocky by John Wyndham
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Chocky (original 1968; edition 1970)

by John Wyndham

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1,000258,556 (3.69)68
Member:Smigs
Title:Chocky
Authors:John Wyndham
Info:London : Penguin, 1970.
Collections:Your library, Cheez's books
Rating:***
Tags:science fiction

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Chocky by John Wyndham (1968)

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Showing 1-5 of 24 (next | show all)
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 |
I was talking with a colleague about really good old science-fiction, and a book I always mention as having impressed me is 'The Day of the Triffids' by John Wyndham. When I read that, I started collecting more of his work, and I enjoyed several more of his novels. But it has been a long while since I read anything by him, so, it was time for 'Chocky'.
Chocky is the imaginary friend of a boy in his early teens, named Matthew. His father is worried, because isn't Matthew a bit old for an imaginary friend? And why is Matthew having such emotional discussions with his friend? Chocky also makes Matthew ask questions that he couldn't really have thought of by himself. Slowly the mystery of just who, or what, Chocky is unraveled, and Matthew's father tries everything to save the life of his son.
I love how in a few pages, these old science fiction stories manage to tell a whole tale. That's an art in and of itself. Together with the father, who wants nothing but the best for his son, we figure out what is going on, and just how good or bad this is for Matthew. The story has aged pretty well, mainly because technology isn't a part of this story. A very well-aged science fiction story, four and five stars. ( )
  divinenanny | Nov 11, 2013 |
12 year old Matthew suddenly develops an imaginary friend called Chocky - Matthew comes to his parents with very mature and adult philosophical questions - and says that it's really Chocky that are posing all the questions - Chocky also seems to take over Matthews body when Matthew starts to paint and write. Matthews parents begins to worry - is this just a make-believe playmate, is Matthew possessed in some way or is there another explanation?

This is the premise of Chocky - told from the the fathers perspective as he discovers more and more troubling things about this "imaginary" friend that will not leave Matthew alone.

Another great story by John Wyndham with a surprising and interesting ending. It feels like a short story that is stretched to a novella-length story. But it works quite well as we learn more and more and are quessing along. ( )
  ctpress | Oct 14, 2013 |
This tale of a boy's imaginary friend starts slowly, and develops into a story not only of the relationship between a father and a son, but of an imaginary friend being not quite what it might seem. Wyndham's tale is engaging if you give it time, entertaining, and ultimately sad, with a few unexpected twists along the way.

Anyone expecting Wyndham's other books to show through here will be surprised: this is not The Day of the Triffids, nor is it the Midwich Cuckoos.

A note on the Penguin eBook edition: Penguin, I expect better of you. There were multiple textual errors which detracted from the reading and enjoyment of the book, as though the text had been poorly OCR scanned and never edited. Shame on you for charging so much for the convenience of an electronic title when you haven't bothered to do the work of making it properly readable. ( )
  Bill_Bibliomane | Aug 1, 2013 |
The latest in my run of reading or re-reading Wyndham's novels this year in no particular order and for no particular reason other than I felt like it!

This has quite a different feel for me than, say, the more apocalyptic (if quietly so) tales such as [b:The Kraken Wakes|4934914|The Kraken Wakes|John Wyndham|http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51mkDD-yXPL._SL75_.jpg|2760748] or [b:The Day of the Triffids|826843|The Day of the Triffids|John Wyndham|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1178729402s/826843.jpg|188517]. There isn't so much of a sinister feeling throughout, even though we're talking about a child being 'inhabited' by an alien presence and even when this turns into an actual 'possession' with the alien Chocky controlling Matthew's body it's still not totally horrifying. Odd, certainly, and a little creepy, but Chocky's actions, saving Matthew and his sister Polly from drowning, and intent, to offer positive assistance to one of the few other intelligent forms of life Chocky's people have found, are explicitly benevolent.

This view is mainly influenced by the narrator, Matthew's father, who is quickly ready to believe in Chocky's existence and is more intrigued than worried, seeing little need to interfere when his son is healthy and happy. It should perhaps seem more sinister, but the kidnapping of Matthew by people who want to learn the alien's secrets actually seems worse. Clearly it would be a very different book if written from the perspective of the mother who swings between concern, dismissal of an 'imaginary friend', horror at the possibility of possession, fear for her child, returning to denial of Chocky's existence... That would be a far more uncomfortable read. As it is, it's an enjoyable and even cheery story, but with a sinister edge of what could have happened that creeps up on you afterwards.

Once again I loved Wyndham's characters, especially the children here: with Matthew's frustration when trying to convey Chocky's ideas by finding his vocabulary lacking, and little sister Polly who can describe anything that has happened to Matthew in comparison with events from the life of "Twinklehooves", the show-pony/ballerina from her favourite books! ( )
  stevejwales | Apr 27, 2013 |
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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.
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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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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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

Two editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141042184, 014119149X

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