The Sc-Fi Experience: The Midwich Cuckoos

Sci-Fi Experience

Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings is hosting the 2014 Sci-Fi Experience beginning on
December 1st, 2013 and ending on January 31st, 2014. Carl is inviting readers to:

a) Continue their love affair with science fiction
b) Return to science fiction after an absence, or
c) Experience for the first time just how exhilarating science fiction can be.

There are no set numbers of books to read, no pressure, you just get to read what you like, be it one book or twenty: it’s up to you.

I think I fall into the second category. I used to read a lot of science fiction many years ago but these days I only read one or two now and then. As it happens, now is one of those rare occasions as I’ve recently read The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham, first published in 1957.

Book Description from Amazon

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.

The resultant children of Midwich do not belong to their parents: all are blonde, all are golden eyed. They grow up too fast and their minds exhibit frightening abilities that give them control over others and brings them into conflict with the villagers just as a chilling realisation dawns on the world outside . . .

The Midwich Cuckoos is the classic tale of aliens in our midst, exploring how we respond when confronted by those who are innately superior to us in every conceivable way.

My view:

The story is set in an ordinary village, with a village green and a white-railed pond, a church and vicarage, an inn, smithy, post office, village shop and sixty cottages and small houses, a village hall, and two large houses, Kyle Manor and The Grange. A very ordinary village where not much goes on, which makes what happens there even more extraordinary.

It’s a product of its time and is dated in the way it portrays women – for example, comments about the female mind being empty because of the dullness of the majority of female tasks and focusing on the shame of being an unmarried mother. Maybe there is too much philosophising and discussion about topics about collective-individualism, morality, the nature of God and evolution. But even so the level of tension and fear rose as the children grew and revealed their powers and not having seen the film version I had no idea how it would end.

Actually, I really enjoyed The Midwich Cuckoos more than I thought I would. It’s eerie and very chilling, a story of alien invasion and the apparent helplessness of humanity to put up any resistance.

10 thoughts on “The Sc-Fi Experience: The Midwich Cuckoos”

  1. I fall into the second category too.

    You know, I’m not sure I’ve ever read this book. I read quite a few of Wyndham’s books in my teens but I have a feeling this was not one of them – I suspect the library didn’t have it. I have seen the film though, but I think I remember reading that it’s not entirely true to the book. My favourite of the ones I read back then was The Chrysalids.

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    1. I’ve read a few too, several years ago, and thoroughly enjoyed The Chrysalids. I know what you mean about not being sure if you’ve read the book – I’m the same about The Day of the Triffids, it might be just the film or TV version I’ve seen!

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  2. I have this vague recollection of hearing this title but knew nothing about it, so I’m glad you read and reviewed it. The idea does sound chilling. I don’t often mind the dated elements of an older book if the book is good, but I do tend to get a little frustrated with the tendency some older books have of doing too much philosophising. That can really slow down an otherwise good story.

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    1. Carl, I think that’s my problem with the philosophising – it slows down the action. It’s just verging on acceptable in this book – that may be because I found the ideas interesting!

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  3. I guess I’m category one, in an on-going love affair with Science Fiction…except that I love it more than I *read* it, so I always appreciate the push to read more this time of year! Sounds like your first read was a creepy juxtaposition of the ordinary and the strange–intriguing!

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  4. I still love SF and still read some, but only a handful per year if that – so will call myself a 1.5! We’re reading ‘The Explorer’ by James Smythe for book group in Jan, so I’ll have a head start.

    The Midwich Cuckoos is one I should re-read as I can’t remember it well enough. I do love John Wyndham though.

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  5. This one takes me back to my schooldays, we read this one and The Day of the Triffids of course. Jack is a big SF fan and sometime writer, so we have hundreds, possibly thousands of SF books but I don’t read that many nowadays, just too many books of my own to read.

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  6. I think Wyndham is superb. My personal favourite is ‘The Crysalids’. I think the way he portrays the reactions of those who fear the new and different is timeless.

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