He is the typical Wyndham protagonist, intelligent enough, but his wife is cleverer. His daughter Ferrelyn, planning to be married, is one of the pregnant women. Cuckoos are very determined survivors. Nor, even when we perceive its advisability, will the rest of us.
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Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham. 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.
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Why is the first chapter in the second part called 'Now We Are Nine'? Milne, which is a quintessential English collection of poems about childh …more I couldn't help but think it is also a reference to "Now We Are Six" by 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. How in-depth are the descriptions of pregnancy and birth in this book?
Are they glazed over? Are the births described in detail? Andrew Strachan Not much detail, they're virtually born between lines. See all 3 questions about The Midwich Cuckoos…. Lists with This Book.
Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 3. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Start your review of The Midwich Cuckoos. Now, almost 40 years later, the postwartime feel is even more present in this short novel, despite the book itself being published in 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 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.
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 secret work, all these contribute to a work redolent with the "stiff upper lip" feeling of post-war British fiction.
Although this novel is class-ridden, and the women's roles are very much of their time, it is told with a wry humour which I had forgotten in the aftermath of all the adaptations.
The first of these goes by the name of "Village of the Damned" , from , and was followed shortly by a sequel "Children of the Damned".
John Carpenter then remade "Village of the Damned". All these are good chilling films, but they are bound to lose the feel of the original text. The British reserve is very much in evidence in the novel, and Wyndham conveys the clipped "BBC" accent beautifully, with his "Ihad" or "Ithink" in reported conversation. At the beginning too, when the "cuckoos" are perceived, there is much embarrassment and avoidence of discussing how this might have happened.
One exchange between the doctor and the vicar is hilarious as neither seem to want to spell out what they actually mean. It becomes obvious that the situation of every single female being pregnant at the same time is scientifically inexplicable.
Nothing has ever really happened in Midwich apart from some amusing historical episodes referred to in a droll fashion right at the start yet the villagers just accept it and go on with their lives. Again, this is typical of the period. It's dangerous to ask questions. The authorities know best. You keep quiet and carry on. And indeed, the "elders" of the village do get together, and form a "committee" to discuss what is the best way to proceed for the good of them all.
The key figures here are; Gordon Zellaby, an educated and insightful character if this had been set any earlier he would have been the "Lord of the Manor" ; Doctor Willers, the village's GP; the vicar, and Bernard Westcott, the middle man between Midwich and the military, who is usually himself represented by the narrator, Richard Gayford a published writer who represents "Everyman". We are thrust into the novel right in the middle of the "Dayout", when the village of Midwich seems to have been put to sleep.
Then aerial photography shows an unidentifiable silvery object on the ground in the centre of the created exclusion zone. Although there is an underlying sense of dread and chill, the "indignant squawk" of the canary, as it repeatedly falls off its perch view spoiler [each time it meets the invisible barrier which put it to sleep, and the description of people just seeming to conk out, hide spoiler ] is actually very funny.
Critics of the novel have argued its implausibility; however was this all kept secret? Well, this was , and we are told the village a sleepy sort of place to start with!
It is a stretch to believe, but communications were extremely basic for ordinary folk then. And why, modern readers may ask, was abortion not suggested? Again, different times, different ethics.
Abortion was a very rare event. Mostly unwanted pregnancies would end in adoption, and some of these in the story were very much wanted in any case. All the little cameos here are a treat to read. Such a variety of reactions from people very much of their time. The women I found to be especially interesting. Often novels written then tend to objectify women, but, class-ridden though they were, these women are believable as real characters.
For the daughter of an educated well-to-do family it is perceived as a minor difficulty, but easily got round. Others less privileged went to dangerous lengths to avoid ever having to disclose the information. The description of the villagers' slow acceptance of the position is carefully controlled. Again, we feel a sense of the past in the communal solidarity and responsibility; there is a strong ethical code binding them together, whereas just a few miles away, as the character Ferelyn the daughter of Zellaby, an important pivotal character in the novel says, "they don't want to believe it…they choose to believe that that is a tale to cover up something more normal but disgraceful.
The narrator Richard Gayford has many indepth discussions with Zellaby, who is prone to philosophical digressions. He tends to soliloquise as he ruminates on various biological mechanisms. He has given himself the task of educating the Children, but when it is clear that they learn, and grow at an astonishing superhuman rate, and have abilities unknown to humans, then he deduces that humanity itself is under threat.
Other countries have experienced the same phenomenon, and four other colonies have been planted and grown world-wide. All have either died or been destroyed. Clearly neither species will allow the other to survive, yet both politically and ethically, nobody wants to be the ones to destroy these Children.
At the start of the novel the narrator, and therefore the reader too, is unsure of Zellaby's astuteness. Indeed Zellaby is portrayed as some sort of "nutty professor". However by the end we are beginning to realise that Zellaby is the only person who sees the bigger picture, view spoiler [and is willing to take responsibility for what has to be done; ultimately to destroy the Children in order for humanity to survive.
Angela Zellaby, the professor's wife acts as an intermediary between the "committee" set up to determine how to proceed, and the mothers. When the Children have begun to show their powers, using their telepathic and superhuman abilities to make people kill themselves, or fight each other, as a "punishment" for hurting them, Angela speaks out against them, saying that murder must never be tolerated.
But Zellaby counters, "You are judging by social rules and finding crime. I am considering an elemental struggle, and finding no crime - just grim, primeval danger. The Children themselves form two basic entities - male and female - split into 61 "components". By the end they have lived for nine years, look sixteen, and have immeasurable intelligence. The characters in the novel assume a working formula of a 16 year old human's multiplied by the power of 30, but both they and we know that any human comparison is useless.
Here Boy speaks for all the Children, trying to explain their position as they request to be moved elsewhere, and thereby putting off the inevitable confrontation between species which would lead to humanity's extinction. It made you numerically stronger, 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. There is some improvement: humour and compassion are the most important of human inventions; but they are not very firmly established yet, though promising well.
The Midwich Cuckoos
It tells the tale of an English village in which the women become pregnant by brood parasitic aliens. The book has been praised by many critics, including the dramatist Dan Rebellato , who called it a searching novel of moral ambiguities, and the novelist Margaret Atwood , who called the book Wyndham's chef d'oeuvre. It has been filmed twice as Village of the Damned , with releases in and The book has been adapted for radio in , , and Ambulances arrive at two traffic accidents blocking the only roads into the fictional British village of Midwich, Winshire. Attempting to approach the village, one ambulanceman becomes unconscious. Suspecting gas poisoning, the army is notified.
John Wyndham: The unread bestseller
But, like Golding, Wyndham is primarily concerned with fundamental questions about the future of the human race — questions for which the figure of the child provides a useful and challenging focus. The action begins when all the inhabitants of the small English village of Midwich suddenly fall unconscious. When they come round several hours later, they seem unaffected, but gradually all women of child-bearing age in the village are discovered to be pregnant. They all give birth on the same day; and their children share an unusual appearance, including glowing golden eyes, pale skin and platinum blond hair. The children develop unnaturally quickly, and they can communicate telepathically with each other: as one learns something, so do the others.
The golden-eyed Children: The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham (1957)
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