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The Midwich Cuckoos

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  22,299 ratings  ·  1,467 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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Erin I couldn't help but think it is also a reference to "Now We Are Six" by A.A. Milne, which is a quintessential English collection of poems about childh…moreI couldn't help but think it is also a reference to "Now We Are Six" by A.A. Milne, which is a quintessential English collection of poems about childhood. Wyndham would surely have known about the work, and may have used it to signal to readers (who would also have been familiar with it) that the children are slightly off. Not only are they not "six" as in the original title, but they can scarcely be said to be "nine," either, except in calendar years.(less)

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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.

Typical English Idyll

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
...more
Bionic 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
Baba
Aug 09, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spec-fi-i-guess
Recounted by a resident couple this is the speculative fiction horror story of mysterious event that leaves a gas over the small town of Midwich, it's a month so later that they realise that all the child-bearing age women are pregnant! The meat of the story is the development of the relationship between the children, their 'mothers' and the villagers!

A delightfully old-school BBC drama style British drama with a delightful sense of foreboding and horror that slowly creeps up on you, as you star
...more
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
Tom Lewis
Jan 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was one of the coolest sci-fi / horror stories I’ve ever read, and was the basis for the 1960 film “Village of the Damned” and John Carpenter’s remake. It centers around the small English village of Midwich where the entire population, and all within a 2 mile radius of the village, are suddenly rendered unconscious for a day and a half. When the phenomena passes, all women of child bearing age are pregnant, and nine months later give birth to oddly emotionless blonde-haired children with go ...more
Glenn Russell


"All these sixty golden-eyed children we have here are intruders, changelings: they are cuckoo-children."

So speaks Gordon Zellaby, well-educated resident of the British village of Midwich when discussing the nature of a large group of highly unusual children born some nine years prior to village women of childbearing age.

The Midwich Cockoos, John Wyndham's 1957 masterfully constructed, highly philosophic tale of alien invasion was made into a science fiction horror film, Village of the Damned,
...more
Ana
Nov 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
One day vanishes off the calendars of a peaceful village of Midwich. When everyone goes to sleep for an entire day and wakes up to find all the women of the village to be pregnant. The children when born are all identical physically with golden eyes and sharing only two consciousness; one shared by all the females and the other by all the males. Apart from that, they are not normal children. They are children with a capital C, having super psychic powers and such reasonable arguments to make as ...more
Beverly
Dec 22, 2021 rated it really liked it
The Midwich Cuckoo's is an odd name for a classic science fiction story from the 1950s. It was made into a great film in 1960 with the great British actor George Saunders. That's how I learned about the book actually. I saw the movie first. The movie and book follow each other very neatly.

Something lands in Midwich and causes everyone in the tiny, English village to fall asleep, even the animals. This is a temporary condition, but the area is cordoned off, because it's very dangerous to suddenl
...more
Jaidee
2.5 "started solid ended rather tediously" stars !!

This is my 2018 Halloween read and I chose it off an internet list of this century's best horror novels. This is also the book that the films Village of the Damned is based on. One was 1960 and the other was 1995. I have yet to see either.

Here is a trailer of the 1995 film

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0WzcW...

Worth seeing just to see the little girls' wigs :)

This book seemed more sci-fi than horror to me and is about a night where all the vi
...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
Adrian
Now I have read this book (I did try and add the link but it wouldn't work, hey ho) a number of times and it is one of my faves. This however was not someone reading or narrating the book, now I did know that, but it was another listen whilst garden audiobook.
So the book is a 5 star read, no doubt about that. This was a BBC dramatisation of an abridged version of the book, hmmm. That said it was an enjoyable listen, with the amazing Bill Nighy in the starring role, always a winner for me
Sooo, I
...more
Carmen
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
Simon
Jun 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf, horror
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
JimZ
Mar 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am not a voracious reader of sci-fi although after reading this book, maybe I should give it another go. A GR friend recommended this book. I got it from the library in hardcover and it was in its 8th printing (originally published in 1957, 8th printing 1967). The Evening News (I believe it is now defunct) had this to say about the novel: “Mr. John Wyndham is a master of the difficult art of “science fiction”. In the Midwich Cuckoos he has written I think his best book (JimZ: this was his 7th ...more
Paul Bryant
This English 1957 SF novel begins with total incomprehension, moves forward into dawning awareness filled with creeping dread, then sullen acceptance changing to psychological horror and ends up with full-on fear and loathing leading to inevitable catastrophe. What’s not to like?

You probably know the set up but anyway – this teensy English village is struck one evening with a sleeping sickness. Everybody conks out for 24 hours. It’s sudden so there are a few accidents. When they all wake up noth
...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 th
...more
Ian
I read almost all of John Wyndham’s novels back when I was a teenager. At the time my two favourites were this one and The Chrysalids. Audio versions of all his novels seem to be included with my Audible membership and I decided to indulge myself. I’ve switched my edition of the book to the audio version.

A number of Wyndham’s novels involved an existential struggle between humanity and a newly appeared threat, usually alien invaders. This one is on a small scale in the sense that all the action
...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
Dan
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
Claude's Bookzone
Mar 08, 2021 rated it really liked it
Well I guess timeouts or naughty steps wouldn't be that effective in the town of Midwich.

I am sufficiently traumatised by that super creepy scifi mystery. Like, arm hairs standing on end creepy! The tension was palpable as these glowy eyed terrors turned their evil gazes on villagers that displeased them. Thoroughly recommend this. I am enjoying reading these classic OG scifi novels that have inspired books and movies and, in my opinion, have stood the test of time remarkably well.
...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
Kitty G Books
Apr 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So I m continuing my adventures with reading all of the books by John Wyndham that I can get my hands on, and after this third one I plan to get them all because once again I ended up giving this a 4.5*s out of 5*s. I really think I've finally found the exact sort of older SF I enjoy, cosy, interesting and also fun.

This story follows the sleepy village of Midwich where not a lot really happens. It's very quiet until one day there is a mysterious occurrence known as 'Dayout' where everyone withi
...more
Paul Ataua
Dec 04, 2021 rated it liked it
A strange silver object appears and everyone in Midwich loses consciousness for a whole day. Everything seems to have returned to normal until they discover that every woman in the small village is pregnant. I remember being fascinated by the idea when I was a kid and loved the related “Village of the Damned’ movie. The book, however, was quite dull with virtually nothing happening in the first third, and little emphasis placed on suspense throughout. It Is at it best late on when the situation ...more
Thomas Stroemquist
Another enjoyable weird tale by Wyndham, who brought us The Day of the Triffids (which everyone thinks they know how the story goes until they read it and find out about all the blind people...). In this book - wait - you can tell from anything ever written about it including the blurb - but, if you managed to avoid and are extremely sensitive to "spoilers" please get off at the next stop, ok?

So, only those here who wants to be? Goodie! Anyway, this starts out with an invisible dome over a villa
...more
Nigeyb
Jun 17, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Midwich Cuckoos (1957) is an intelligent and thought provoking slice of 1950s Cold War-influenced British science fiction with much to enjoy and ponder.

John Wyndham brilliantly evokes the 1950s bourgeoise English village life. The book shows its age: underdeveloped female characters who are 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.

The discussions, and there are p
...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.
...more
Kerri
May 24, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: most-loved
There's a good selection of John Wyndham books in the Audible Plus catalogue right now, and I have been having a nice time working my through them.
This was a great one to start with, as it's read by Stephen Fry who is probably my favourite person to listen to.
The story itself was excellent, very interesting idea that was executed well.
...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
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
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
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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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