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The Midwich Cuckoos

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  12,914 Ratings  ·  630 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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Matt My opinions are of course subjective, and my values and sensibilities may not reflect your own. There are adult situations dealing with pregnancy,…moreMy opinions are of course subjective, and my values and sensibilities may not reflect your own. There are adult situations dealing with pregnancy, nothing too graphically described, if I recall correctly. I think the prose style may be difficult for younger readers, unless they are very advanced readers. And this is one of the rare cases where I enjoyed the original movie (not the remake) more than the book. The fantasy horror elements of psychic children controlling and harming adults can be scary in movie and perhaps in the book as well. Everyone has different sensibilities, so you should always read the book first if you are a concerned parent choosing more challenging reading for a child. (less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Lisa
Sep 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
What a strange story!

An easy read, at first glance, with dated language and characters. But there is more to it than meets the eye.

I absolutely loved the opening sentence:

"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."

It is such a great homage to chance, which played a major role in the main characters' lives in The Day of the Triffids as well. One of the characters happened to be spared blindness, but only by accident,
...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
Carmen
Dec 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those in the Mood for Retro Sci-Fi Fun
Recommended to Carmen by: Instagram
The dawn of the 27th was an affair of slatternly rags soaking in a dishwater sky, with a gray light weakly filtering through. Nevertheless, in Oppley and in Stouch cocks crowed and other birds welcomed it melodiously. In Midwich, however, no birds sang.

In Oppley and Stouch, too, as in other places, hands were soon reaching out to silence alarm clocks, but in Midwich the clocks rattled on till they ran down.

In other villages sleepy-eyed men left their cottages and encountered their workmates with
...more
Apatt
Feb 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Simon
Jun 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, sf
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
Michael
This short book on a surreptitious alien invasion continues to resonate in my imagination weeks after reading it. The pleasure of the read for me was in the quiet unfolding of events pieced together by a neutral, largely uninvolved narrator. As with Hitchcock movies, the truly disturbing events are either off-camera or seen in a reflection of someone’s experience. I think its anti-cinematic tone of a radio play may be why the book was considered enough of an innovation in the form of the novel t ...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
...more
Dan Schwent
Feb 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: early-sf
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
Gabrielle
The sleepiest of all sleepy English country villages is the scene of a most unusual event: on a lovely autumn night, everyone in Midwich passes out, to wake up seemingly unharmed the next morning. But it soon comes to their attention that every fertile woman who was in the village during this strange episode is now pregnant. When those babies are born nine months later, it is obvious that they are not normal, or even human… They all have dark blond hair and golden eyes, grow twice as fast as ord ...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
Alissa Patrick
Aug 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
An entire town falls asleep at the same time and are out for hours. Then they wake up and try to act as though it was a weird coincidence. Soon after, however it is discovered that all of the women in the town who are of child-bearing age (including virgins, single women, married women, spinsters etc) are all pregnant at the exact same time. Oh, and there was talks of a spherical object in the sky around the time that everyone passed out..... hmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Then the children are born... with gol
...more
Robert
Aug 31, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
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
Tiffany Reisz
Feb 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Very good little eerie sci-fi novel set in a small village in England in the 1950s. Solid writing, very good storytelling. Picked up at random at a used book shop and enjoyed it thoroughly.

PS Don't have alien babies.
David Sarkies
Apr 24, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
The Fear of Change
1 May 2016

I'm going to have to be honest and say that I really didn't like this book all that much, which from glancing over my friends' reviews seems to put me at odds with pretty much all of them (or at least the ones who actually wrote something). Mind you, the one thing that I did like about it (or at least my copy) is the little sticker on it that says £1.50, which brings back memories of the time I was in London and discovered this really cool second-hand bookshop in Lei
...more
Lisa
Jul 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Despite the age of this sci-fi book it is very forward-thinking for it's time and I really enjoyed it...creepy!



It is slow paced and there was a lot of time spent philosophising about the children and how to deal with them.

There is very little action in the book which may put people off but I didn't mind as it's a short book and the moral debates were as interesting as the physical situation.

I love that John Wyndham described his books as 'logical fantasy' - it's very apt.
Sean O'Hara
Jun 19, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Richard
When I was in high school, we had to read The Chrysalids. After that, I wanted more and devoured all the Wyndham I could lay my hands on. This is one of his best novels. It is tense and horrific, yet not without humour. The idea of smug, Borg-like children who can torture you without blinking a single one of their golden eyes is just plain chilling. At least with zombies you have a fighting chance.
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
Kirsty
Mar 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: borrowed, march-2017
Wyndham was another of those authors whom I wanted to read during 2017, and I decided to begin with The Midwich Cuckoos. I was expecting to enjoy the book, but I didn't think that I'd love it as much as I did. I am sceptical when it comes to science fiction, and cannot usually suspend my disbelief that well. It is simply not a genre which I usually enjoy. Saying that, there is something about this novel which feels frighteningly realistic; the England which Wyndham portrays is so real, and his s ...more
Josephine (Jo)
This is one of those books that never becomes dated. The village of Midwich is affected by a mysterious phenomenon which causes everyone to fall asleep. They all wake at the same moment one day later and there seems to be no ill effect. This day is referred to by the villagers as the Dayout. After a few weeks however the true consequence of the Dayout is revealed, many of the women in the village are pregnant! The children born after this event are different and as they grow they have an astound ...more
Ferdy
Aug 25, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: meh, sci-fi, classic, powers, aliens
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
Sarah
Read for the 2016 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge (although I read it in 2017) prompt 'A Book from the Library'

SOME SPOILERS

10/2 - Let me start off by saying that I did enjoy this book. It was an interesting take on alien invasions.

You couldn't write this book, as it was published, today. All the evidence that refutes Zellaby's belief that the Children may be the 'missing link' scientists have been looking for in human evolution was found (or confirmed as part of our ancestry) after this was written
...more
Amy | shoutame
Apr 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
I read The Day of the Triffids last year and thoroughly enjoyed it - I wouldn't say I enjoyed this one quite as much but it was definitely worth the read.

- This novel follows the story of a small rural town called Midwich. Midwich is a pretty unassuming place and very little seems to ever happen there. That is until one day when all of the residents drop down unconscious - there appears to be a border around the entire village and should anyone step through it they loose consciousness. After a f
...more
Lynn
Jul 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Damn! I lost my review when I clicked on another window....ugh!

Very good 50s sci-fi. Completely male-oriented even if it's a book about invasion by pregnancy.
Mark
Dec 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, own-it
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
Carmine
The Midwich cuckoos

Interessante opera quella di Wyndham, capace di veicolare le paturnie di un periodo storico (la guerra fredda) attraverso una componente fantascientifica rivoluzionaria che risulta ancora oggi inquietante.
Da uno spunto di partenza così solido si dipanano molte tematiche - la maternità intesa come sacrificio e condanna; l'incontrollata forza dei media sul collettivo; l'incomunicabilità con il diverso - e la stessa storia viaggia sui binari della coerenza, senza mai abbandonars
...more
Nigeyb
Jun 17, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Michael
"What made it the more odd was that Midwich was, almost notoriously, a place where things did not happen.
Janet and I had lived there just over a year then, and found this to be almost its leading feature. Indeed, had there been posts an the entrances to the village bearing a red triange and below them a notice:
MIDWICH
DO NOT
DISTURB
the would have seemed not inappropriate."

Herrlich, ich sehe es vor mir: "EUTIN, BITTE NICHT STÖREN". Gleich zum Bürgermeister, eine Eingabe machen.

Aber im Ernst:
Das DOR
...more
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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'. ...more
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“Some quotations," said Zellaby, "are greatly improved by lack of context.” 32 likes
“Knowledge is simply a kind of fuel; it needs the motor of understanding to convert it into power.” 17 likes
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