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Penguin Essential Midwich Cuckoos

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Format: Mass Market Paperback

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Book Overview

A genre-defining tale of first contact by one of the twentieth century's most brilliant--and neglected--science fiction and horror writers, whom Stephen King called "the best writer of science fiction... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

absolutely first rate hard sci-fi, with very British character studies

Viewers of the excellent early film version of this may feel disappointed: the pace is slow, there is lots of dialogue, and the characters are hard to grasp. What's more, the children are more of a threatening presence - they cannot even be told apart reliably - than the active individuals of the film. But if the reader sticks with it, there are great rewards to be found. First, the principal story is about the village, Midwich, which is as normal a place in the English countryside as one can imagine. There is an extraordinary series of events, first a blackout of all residents in a well defined perimeter, and then the realization that all women of child-bearing age are simultaneously pregnant, about 60 women. The full first third of the novel portrays how residents attempt to deal with the pregnancies, how they establish a kind of solidarity between themselves, that will later prove brittle and prone to violence. It is here that the complex characters are estalished in a brilliant way that is imortant later. Second, there is the enigma of the children, whose attributes are nothing short of extraordinary, in that they appear to have two massminds, one for girls and the other for boys. They are all able to impell the villagers to behave in certain ways, as in disallowing them to leave Midwich in a time of crisis. As they all appear to be clones, no individuals emerge. What is so wonderful is that so little is explained - virtually all of the action takes place off-stage, including what the children are planning beyond their survival. They remain a splendid mystery with cunningly placed details for the reader to piece together; many interpretations are possible, if the reader enjoys that kind of exercise of the imagination. Interestingly, it is never clear whether or not they can read minds, which is only implied obliquely, and there are limits to what they can see. Third, the reader never gets a clearly defined meaning for it all, beyond the fact that they are alien and constitute a threat, perhaps to humanity as a whole. Instead, the main characters speculate on it and discuss it, with some very unusual ideas floating about. This too can be great fun, but again, it is piecing together hints. I was left with a sense of mystery at the complexity of the universe, which is such a delight to a middle-aged mind! Finally, there is the action that a village leader decides to take. While there is very little actual violence, it is always a threat of dread to all the villagers. For all appearences out of character, the leader proves decisive and even prescient. But again, unlike the movie, very little of the final struggle is spelled out. This is a splendid vehicle for the lively imagination. It is also very British, which will put many American readers off, as we explect clear and fast-paced action, unequivocal explanations, and a wrap-up (with the possibiltiy of a sequel). What you get is a large social drama with subtle characters, the recogni

Classic Science-Fiction

The entire population of a small, unremarkable English village mysteriously goes to sleep one evening. An Unidentified Flying Object is detected on the radar. The military is called in. Anyone who approaches the village falls unconscious. Then, mysteriously, it is over. Only a few weeks later, all the women of child-bearing ability notice that they are pregnant.... This is of course the book that inspired Village of the Damned. That title isn't exactly right for this story. The Midwich Cuckoos is less snazzy but definitely more appropriate - "cuckoo" in the sense of a bird placing her egg in another bird's nest. The movies of this story have been more about the Children looking creepy and doing scary things. The novel - like all of Wyndham's novels - is more philosophic. Yes, the children are creepy but they don't spend that much time on stage. Instead, the suspense is centered around trying to figure out exactly what the children are and what can be done about them. Another literate science-fiction/horror novel from Wyndham.

outstanding science fiction written to the highest standard

Wydham takes a look at a very interesting question: what happens with the entire human race is threatened, but our social conventions, politics, and institutions prevent us from saving ourselves? The odd title is a reference to the way cuckoo birds place their eggs in the nests of other birds who mistake the eggs for their own - but even after they hatch the surrogate mothers are compelled by their natures to take care of the babies. In Midwich, at a time when England regarded itself as the most civilized political community the world had ever known (hey, it probably still thinks that way!), the locals find themselves unable to mistreat a brood of alien, mind-controlling children, even though the fate of the world is at steak. Lot's of good narrative and entertaining philosophical conversations among the characters made this a truly great book, in the tradition of Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World" or Orwell's "1984".

An amazing classic.

The midwich cukoos was a book which contained a combination of science-fiction and intelligence (a thing not often done). In some places it did seem to get a bit tedious but overall it was impacting and original. It is such a pity that the movies made based around this novel (Village of the Dammed, Children of the Dammed) didn't compare to the greatness of this all time classic. I give it a 10/10 all the way.

Much, Much, Better than the Movie(Village of the Damned)

This is a great Book. I was inspired to read it after watching the movie version, and it was .....just....Great! THE END
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