The Midwich Cuckoos
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The Midwich Cuckoos

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  7,883 ratings  ·  370 reviews
In the sleepy English village of Midwich, a mysterious silver object appears and all the inhabitants fall unconscious. A day later the object is gone and everyone awakens unharmed – except that all the women in the village are discovered to be pregnant.
Mass Market Paperback, #299K, 220 pages
Published 1958 by Ballantine Books (first published 1957)
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Simon
As I read this book, it began to strike me how Wyndham's world view contrasted with that of Tolkien's. Whereas Tolkien harked back to a pre-industrial time of innocence wishing we might get back closer to nature, Wyndham reminds us that we only invented civilisation as a way of distancing ourselves from the harshness and brutality of nature. There is nothing cosy and secure about mother nature.

Wyndham also tells us that tolerance of difference is a luxury of those who are secure in themselves. W...more
Cecily
Sci fi, horror, dystopian...? A bit of all of them.

This is a straightforward and somewhat leisurely story that touches on very deep and difficult themes, mostly indirectly, but explicitly in the last quarter.

Midwich is a sleepy English village in the late 1950s. One day, everyone in the village blacks out. They awake, apparently unharmed, only to discover that all the fertile women are pregnant - but the children they give birth to are not like other human children, and turn out to have extraord...more
Dan Schwent
Ah, my other favorite John Wyndham classic and another prime example of the blurred lines between sf and horror in the first half of the 20th century.

You all are familiar with the concept even if you don't know where it comes from. Creepy kids are born in an isolated England town to unsuspecting mothers and proceed to terrorize it with their hivemind and telepathic abilities. Classic stuff and pillaged innumerable time in both print and film. How do you defeat enemies who know your every thought...more
Trudi
* 1/2 stars

I'm actually shocked by how utterly and completely this book frustrated and bored the hell out of me, how crushingly disappointed I am by the whole affair. I mean, this is John Wyndham for Chrissake -- author of The Chrysalids and The Day of the Triffids (both of which are all levels of awesome).

This? This just pisses me off. It's made me want to make my Jules face -- yeah, I got one ... what of it?



I mean, you have GOT to be fucking kidding me. How does such a fantastic idea in the h...more
Mara
Three and a half stars, I rounded down because I feel like I've been getting a little four-star-happy of late.

Gotta give some serious props to Dan for recommending this to me upon my proclamation that I find few things scarier than powerful children en masse. If that's your thing, then this is the book for you. Seriously, just look at some of the covers this book has had...kids are creepy!



As someone who has been perpetually unclear on the difference between a baby and a parasite (ok, biological...more
Robert
Wyndham, after writing in several different genres under a different name in each, decided to write "realistic" science-fiction - and met with success.
In this book, one character expounds the view that in all science-fiction, aliens invade Earth by turning up with superior armaments and blasting away - until defeated, having underestimated humanity or overlooked some other factor of crucial importance (e.g. microbes in War of the Worlds). They are essentially doomed by their own hubris. During t...more
Nikki
I enjoyed The Midwich Cuckoos more than I expected to, I think. I have a difficult relationship with horror stories: I have enjoyed a few, but I'm also quite susceptible to being made anxious and put on edge. The Midwich Cuckoos is one of those books that crosses the line between speculative fiction and horror, but it's more to do with a sense of the uncanny, a sense of deep unease, where the things we take for granted are just ever so subtly different, than with big horrifying things happening....more
Jean
I can't remember when I first read The Midwich Cuckoos, but it was certainly within 30 years of the end of World War II. Now, almost 40 years later, the postwartime feel is even more present in this short novel, despite the book itself being published in 1957. The way the army moves in immediately, the jeeps on the road, meetings between people who clearly think of themselves as the elders of the village, the consequent emphasis on protecting ordinary people, the "Grange" with its important secr...more
Apatt
John Wyndham's books are often described, labeled or tagged as cozy catastrophe, I am not sure what that means as the two books* I have read so far of his are rather unsettling. My guess is the Englishness of his prose style and the politeness of his characters. As something of an anglophile I very much appreciate this style of writing, it is very comforting and old school, especially with a nice cuppa tea in my hand. The only serious problem with this book is that the plot is so well known. It...more
Jonathan

The Midwich Cuckoos is part sci-fi and part horror story with a greater emphasis on the sci-fi elements. John Wyndham with this tale, in combination with The Day of the Triffids and The Chrysalids, has cemented a place on my list of all time great science fiction authors. His works are both entertaining, well written and enlightening. They are a complement to the reader and no doubt many later writers have been inspired by his contributions to writing whether they realise it or not.

The Midwich C...more
Sean O'Hara
Oh, dear me! Something strange has happened to the village of Midwich. Some mysterious force has shrouded the town and rendered all therein unconscious for a day and a half. When the force lifts, life returns to normal, except that every woman of child-bearing age soon discovers herself to be with child. But never mind the womenfolk -- they're hardly important to this story. All they have to do is give birth. It's up to the men of Midwich to work out what to do. Of course we should want to preve...more
Ferdy
2.5 stars - Spoilers

-Liked some parts, hated others. The most enjoyable aspect was the premise — creepy alien children are always fun to read about. Everything else was kind of dull.

-The pacing was all over the place.

-It wasn't always clear what was going on — the writing was either too dry or made no sense.

-The random changes from first person to third person was annoying.

-There was too much philosophy for my liking.

-I was rooting for the Children more than the villagers. I was disappointed tha...more
Mark
Although this passage does not appear until halfway through the novel, it sums up much of the core of the Midwich Cuckoos storyline:

"If you were wishful to challenge the supremacy of a society that was fairly stable, and quite well weaponed, what would you do? Would you meet it on its own terms by launching a probably costly, and certainly destructive assault? Or, if time were of no great importance, would you prefer to employ a version of a more subtle tactic? Would you, in fact, try to someho...more
Kelly
A quick read from the pulp sci-fi writer who also gave us The Day of the Triffids.

If you've seen Village of the Damned (which is based on this book), you already know the scenario, and there won't be many surprises.

The early parts of the book are the most intriguing. After an entire town experiences a simultaneous blackout, there are shades of "Flash Forward" as the locals try to make sense of it.

The latter half of the book bogs down with lengthy speeches on ethics and morals, and more than a fe...more
M.G. Mason
This is amongst the most intriguing of Wyndham’s work with a lot of subtext to mull over in such a short work. In some schools in the UK, it is still a set text, probably for that reason.

The idea is simple and familiar to anybody who has seen either of the films that it spawned (Village of the Damned). An invisible shield prevents people from entering a certain village. Aerial recon shows that everybody inside is asleep. After several days they wake up… and life carries on as normal… until, that...more
Karen
Jul 10, 2008 Karen rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Karen by: Colin M.
This book has one of the catchiest titles of all time! I strong-armed a co-worker into lending it to me by cornering him in the elevator. He practically squirms out of his skin in panic each time I wheel up with my mail cart and check his outbox. He mentioned he started reading The Midwich Cuckoos as part of his recent interest in dystopian literature, so I'm intrigued.

I'm sure he's dreading just the interaction required by my returning it... Little does he know that I plan to borrow all of his...more
Nigeyb
An intelligent and thought provoking slice of 1950s Cold War-influenced British science fiction. I enjoyed the bourgeoise village life evoked by John Wyndham. That said the book does also show its age: the female characters all underdeveloped, they are generally too distracted, and/or besotted by the Children (the Cuckoos of the book's title), to contribute anything meaningful to the more weighty discussions of the male characters.

It is actually the discussions, and there are plenty of them (pe...more
Felicia
GUYS! THIS WAS FREAKY!
Missy
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....more
FrankH
Club Read: March, 2010

Agree with Mara and others on the disconnect emerging from the horrific plot elements, the near languid reaction of the villagers to their fate, and the ruminative narrative style. At first, I wanted to reach into my Kindle and give these good burghers a whup up side the head. Don't they know what portends upon the blondish, uniform appearance? The distant glacial behavior? The golden eyes? 'FOR GOD'S SAKE, YOUR BODIES AND LIVES ARE BEING TAKEN OVER BY ALIENS. DO SOMETHING'...more
Samuel
I love John Wyndham, I do. His originality is truly Wellsian (note, that's the second time in two reviews I've described Wyndham as "Wellsian", surely this stands as evidence enough to support any admiration I've got for him as a science fiction novelist). The Midwich Cuckoos is, simply, another fantastic chunk of classic sci-fi done correctly, based in rationality and the otherworldly. Wyndham has a fondness for the isolated communities which serves to impel the impact of strange alien interlop...more
Noel Thingvall
Marvelous book. The setup is unusual, in that a UFO creates an invisible bubble around a small town that puts everyone to sleep for a day, and when everyone wakes up, all the women of childbearing age are pregnant, but Wyndham sells it with his logical, meticulous execution. The wave of pregnancies sweeping through a small town are explored from every conceivable angle - abortion, virginal conception, bitter or compassionate spouses and parents, religious guilt, communal support. The way it jump...more
Sunny in Wonderland
It's this movie:

 photo votd-logo_zps65373469.jpg

Wordier, more philosophical, quite antiquated in its portrayal of women within society. Nevertheless, I couldn't stop imagining these children. Or, should I say Children, with a capital 'C'?

The cheesy made-for-television movie with Christopher Reeve and Kirstie Alley was kinda, maybe, sorta scary to me in a vaguely disturbing type of way when I saw it. This book was not even that scary.
Pink
3 stars might seem a little harsh for this book and I hesitated to rate it higher, but overall this was more of a 'like' than a 'really like' for me. I was gripped from the first page, but things drifted off a little and I found my mind wandering slightly mid way through - I have to say that I loved the ending though. This was my first John Wyndham book and I definitely want to read more.
Rachael
I had never read anything by John Wyndham before picking up The Midwich Cuckoos, and I must say I was surprised by how 'readable' his work is. I expected to find it all a little 'dated' but Wyndham's turn of phrase seems to me as appropriate and compelling now as it would have been at the time of publication. The premise is both satisfying and creepy in equal measure. I adored the progress of the tale as we learn a little more each chapter, gaining understanding as the characters do. It allows t...more
Alice
I realized after I picked up this book that it was abridged, and that the only unabridged audio is a performance. I have no idea what I missed, but I did listen to a compelling story, worth delving into the source material.

If you've heard of The Midwich Cuckoos, you've probably seen one of the Children of the Damned movies. I've heard of it through Seanan McGuire's InCryptid books. There's a race of cryptids called Cuckoos, and they're much like the creatures described in this book, with a great...more
Krista
We are all, you see, toys of the life force. It made you numerically strong, but mentally undeveloped; it made us mentally strong, but physically weak: now it has set us at one another, to see what will happen. A cruel sport, perhaps, from both our points of view, but a very, very old one. Cruelty is as old as life itself.

I'm sorry to say that The Midwich Cuckoos wasn't nearly as much fun as The Day of the Triffids, although it started out with a promising premise: After a small British village...more
trishtrash
“It ruins a man’s concentration to have a crèche hanging over his head.”

The quiet English village of Midwich suffers a blackout that lasts an entire day. When it is revealed that all the women in the affected area of childbearing age have since become spontaneously and simultaneously pregnant, the consequences of the ‘dayout’ begin to become clear.

When I picked this book up, I was certain that I had already read it, many years ago. Now I’m not at all sure that this is the case. Despite being vag...more
Ivan
This is a science fiction classic by the author of “The Day of the Triffids,” and though I’m an admirer of that classic novel, this remains my favorite of the two. Set in an English village, this is the story of an alien invasion. On an idyllic afternoon everyone in the village looses consciousness for a number of hours. When they awaken all are well and everything is as if nothing happened until every woman able to give birth turns up pregnant, including virgins and those unmarried, widows or s...more
Fiver
John Wyndham's writing has often been accused, with some accuracy, of being filled with schlock. The aliens show up in some mysterious way, we are terrified of their appearance, and they try to take over the planet.

But even with simply 'awe and wonder' storytelling there are good eggs, and this is one of them. The Midwich Cuckoos is the literary basis for the sci-fi/horror franchise "The Village of the Damned". The small village of Midwich experiences an odd hour of 'blackout', during which e...more
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Boxall's 1001 Bo...: March {2010} Discussion -- THE MIDWICH CUCKOOS by John Wyndham 36 229 Jun 02, 2010 11:25AM  
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John Wyndham Parkes Lucas Beynon Harris was the son of a barrister. After trying a number of careers, including farming, law, commercial art and advertising, he started writing short stories in 1925. After serving in the civil Service and the Army during the war, he went back to writing. Adopting the name John Wyndham, he started writing a form of science fiction that he called 'logical fantasy. A...more
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