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 meSooo, I will definitely re read the book 5th time as the abridged version is just not as good, but this was a strong 4 stars overall, despite the abridged version. 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 sleepy good mornings in Midwich no one encountered anyone.For Midwich lay entranced.While the rest of the world began to fill the day with clamor, Midwich slept on Its men and women, its horses, cows and sheep its pigs, its poultry, its larks, moles and mice all lay still There was a pocket of silence in Midwich, only broken by the whispering of the leaves, the chiming of the church clock, and the gurgle of the Opple as it slid over the weir beside the mill.The Midwich Cuckoos, or The Village of the Damned was written in 1957 by Wyndham, the same man who wrote The Day of the Triffids.In this book, the small, sleepy English town of Midwich falls asleep by force one night When the people awaken, nothing seems amiss except for a huge depression in the ground where perhaps an alien craft once stood.The people try to forget what happened until they find that every female of childbearing age in the village is pregnant At first, consumed by shame and secrecy, this is not common knowledge, but the rates of women falling downstairs, taking very hot baths, and attempting suicide by overdose are increasing Virgins have to tearfully confess to their loyal fiances that they are pregnant A man comes home from 18 months overseas serving in the military and is confused to find his bewildered wife pregnant Another man nearly beats his wife to death upon finding out she s pregnant, convinced she s cheated on him Young teenagers who have never had sex go to the vicar in confusion and angst about their inexplicable pregnancies.As soon as the doctor and the vicar catch on to what is happening, they team up to from a female lead committee to calm and support the masses assure them that they have done nothing wrong, and stop these young women from trying to commit suicides and dangerous illegal abortions.Finally, 58 children are born in the village Only 5 are human The rest have yellow eyes and a fearsome psychic power that can compel people to do their bidding.This mass rape of a town s females by aliens is a form of invasion, a weaponized rape, a way to trick another species into welcoming invaders their own children with open arms instead of guns and weapons as the aliens are poised for domination of the planet As the Children become older and older, and dangerous, and murderous, and stand to inherit the entire planet, can anything be done to stop them I really enjoyed this retro sci fi book It was very interesting Of course, you have what is now seen as old fashioned discourse on the differences between men and women, such asMan s arrogance is boastful, he observed, woman s is something in the fiber We do occasionally contemplate the once lordly dinosaurs and wonder when and how our little day will reach its end But not she Her eternity is an article of faith Great wars and disasters can ebb and flow, races rise and fall, empires wither with suffering and death, but these are superficialities she, woman, is perpetual, essential she will go on forever She doesn t believe in the dinosaurs she doesn t really believe the world ever existed until she was upon it Men may build and destroy and play with all their toys they are uncomfortable nuisances, ephemeral conveniences, mere scamperers about, while women, in mystical umbilical connection with the great tree of life itself, KNOWS that she is indispensable One wonders whether the female dinosaur in her day was blessed with the same comfortable certainty If you can ignore this hogwash, or at least smile and be amused, you will get through this book fine I found it amusing.We also have a change of pace in which the bleeding heart liberals of the books the ones who see the Children as having a right to live are in the wrong and the conservatives who want to bomb all of the Children out of existence are in the right It is put forth that England s decadent, democratic society is the perfect breeding ground for alien spawn because they are too diplomatic and liberal to sanction the hard choices that need to be made killing the Children quickly and effectively in a way that, let s say, Soviet Russia wouldn t hesitate to do view spoiler In fact, the aliens do rape and impregnate the females in a Soviet village The Soviet government bombs the village, killing all the Children and the innocent human villagers when the children are about 9 years of age In fact, civilization and I use the term loosely is seen as a weakness here Both the Eskimo village and the African village this can mean anything, obviously Wyndham was not familiar with Africa kill the Children immediately, the Eskimos by leaving the demon spawn outside to die of exposure In Mongolia, all the women are killed upon being found pregnant, therefore killing both the human host and the Child as well, in the most woman hating place depicted in the book The Soviets keep the Children alive til age 9 in a hope to harness their intelligence and power, but the Children are too powerful and unable to be dominated in any way, shape, or form hide spoiler 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 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 are unable to grasp by any normal person living on the planet The people of the village are terrified shit and manage to control the situation somehow but still are unable to prevent the inevitable I am glad I read it as a classic because no matter how strongly it failed to terrify me out of my wits, this book does shower light philosophically on the condition of humans And also tells that how much a need is there for man to be politically correct even in the rightest of situations Well well, I liked reading this book Recommended 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 was filmed a couple of times as Village of the Damned, adapted for radio plays and is required reading in many schools If you really really have no idea what this book is about here is my ridiculously simplified synopsis The women in an English village are implanted with alien babies while the entire village is put to sleep for a few days The babies grow into hive mind children with mental powers Another great Mark Salwowski cover.These days the hive mind idea is old hat to sci fi fans, with Star Trek TNG s The Borg, and Doctor Who s Cybermen being the most famous examples as far as I know In sf literature beside The Midwich Cuckoos Theodore Sturgeon s classic More Than Human is probably the best known The main difference is that the Sturgeon s book concerns a small group of homo gestalt people who operate as one being but are also non homogeneous individuals In any case, you are not likely to have your mind blown by this book.The book was published in 1957, in those days they tell stories with such economy, a lot of story is packed into about 250 pages The drawback is that there is little room for character development, so the polite inhabitants of this book tend to be somewhat two dimensional As mentioned earlier I was already well aware of the plot from the movie versions so there is no surprise in store for me but I still find the book worth reading and immersive If you are unfamiliar with the story when you read this fine sf classic I envy you The other one being The Day of the Triffids also a must read classicNote There are two movie adaptations of The Midwich Cuckoos that I know of.1960 s Village of the Damned And John Carpenter s 1995 remakeI quite enjoyed both versions but the 1960 s one is better in term of atmosphere and subtlety.Oh There is also a Thai ripoff adaptation There is no official English title, the Thai title translates as Cuckoos at Bangpleng , Wikipedia calls it Blackbirds at Bangpleng for some reason Here is an interesting review of this movie by Variety I haven t seen it, don t really fancy it to be honest 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 filmhttps www.youtube.com watch v 0WzcWWorth seeing just to see the little girls wigs This book seemed sci fi than horror to me and is about a night where all the village women in a small community become pregnant after a night of deep sleep and the discovery that a flying ship had landed close to a laboratory The women are merely hosts and 31 or so children are born and look identical with luminous yellow eyes As they grow they develop physically and intellectually very rapidly and seem to share one consciousness.I will stop there as ominous things begin to happen to the village folk The first three quarters was fairly interesting but staid and ponderous and not at all frightening but the last quarter became quasi philosophical, pseudo political, sort of intellectual and quite frankly duller than a burnished doorknob The ending was also rather sudden and quite frankly insultingly expected This is a classic that I could have done without but am still sort of glad that I read. 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 We don t feel so inclined to live and let live when we feel threatened.Gradually the serene and civil veneer of the previously peaceful village of Midwich is peeled back as it becomes apparent to the villagers that they must fight for their survival against a strange invader they do not understand. 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 to warrant inclusion on the Boxhall list of 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die The book blurb gives away the overall plot All residents of an already sleepy suburb in England are put to sleep within a mysterious circle of influence and later wake up unharmed, but soon they learn that all women are pregnant The slow dawning on ordinary people that something fiendish is going on was nicely done As in E.T the military try to get involved, but it s up to regular middle class folk to deal with the obscure threat within their midst Because of the distant male perspective of the narrator and the main character, the scientist Gordon Zellaby, we don t get much of a window on the personal reactions of the women Just anecdotes to suggest that some consider this a miraculous immaculate conception and others a horrifyingly personal invasion The rest of the book deals with how the village comes to terms with raising the resultant children, who appear normal except for their golden hair and strange eyes and stand out with precocious development As with the story of the frog in the pot being heated, the community is slow to realize they are in danger from special powers the children possess Like cuckoo chicks ready to take over the nest.I long avoided the book because the movie version, Village of the Damned , seemed just another horror thriller with a stupid premise But the author s Day of the Triffids showed me how different his reflective narrative can be from an action oriented movie Others have pointed out the analogies between the plot and the prevailing Cold War paranoia of the 50 s over Communist corruption from within The primal resilience of the British middle class is the hero in that light Another angle is on the biological imperative to survive in the face of evolutionary competition It s all well and good to recognize the naturalness of the scenario, but the liberal outlook of live and let live runs smack up against compelling moral arguments for genocide In the history of science fiction, this tale has an important place in the transition between the jingoistic space operas of the Age of Wonder and emergence of darker visions of horror and inter species war that render a pessimistic view of the power of science and human superiority If you care for a few hours of thoughtful and disturbing entertainment, there are free e book versions of this book on the internet. What a strange story An easy read, at first glance, with dated language and characters But there is 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, and thus was able to take a leading role in the ensuing action In Midwich, the ordeal is of a different kind From the start, it is quite clear that the main protagonist of the novel is the village itself the collective of Midwich, proudly present in almost all chapter headings And it is caught in a fairy tale style beauty sleep in the beginning, thus displaying its innocence, or, as one might feel tempted to say virginity Midwich was, almost notoriously, a place where things did not happen However, after an incident, soon to be called the Dayout, when all inhabitants are put out of action, the village is shocked to find out that all women except for the one who had left town to celebrate her husband s birthday are pregnant.This marks the start of the story, showing in a sympathetic way how Midwich copes with the problem As it is a science fiction novel, the reader expects the cuckoos to have super powers and a secret agenda, so their telepathic will force doesn t come as a surprise, and neither does the violence that erupts after a decade of nurturing and educating the Children with the golden eyes As the novel is written during the Cold War, it is also quite unsurprising to find a Soviet twist, triggering the ultimate showdown So far, so sterile and boring, I would say But it is a strangely compelling plot despite the predictability of some storylines The main reason is that there are ethical questions of a higher order to consider Faced with threats, both the human and the cuckoo population fall back on primitive defence mechanisms, and set in motion a blood feud They create a deadlock, where ethical values clash with biological instincts.The cuckoos use their superior will power to keep villagers hostage, in order to prevent them from evacuating Midwich and enable the state to strike against the foreign species without losses for themselves The most important human inventions, according to one character, humour and compassion, as well as deeply rooted beliefs in civilisation, make it impossible for them to kill off their own innocent people to avoid long term domination by a stronger species, slowly developing and growing to full power.However, in the end, Wyndham turns the whole power balance around again, and lets the cuckoos show one single sign of humanity, which immediately makes them vulnerable trust All it needs then is one human with a superior mind to think like the aliens, and to reflect on the ultimate consequences of the situation If you want to keep alive in the jungle, you must live as the jungle does The logical last step is for this man to become a hero, in the ancient definition, and to sacrifice himself to save the main character The collective of Midwich Quite interesting, as a thought experiment, and ending on an ambiguous note Is trust good or bad Should the individual or the collective be valued Where humanity brought destruction upon itself in The Day of the Triffids, ruthlessly playing with nature and technology, The Midwich Cuckoos on the other hand celebrates human inventiveness, compassion and humour, as superior to pure intellectual capacities.As for trust Not to be trusted 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 IdyllMidwich 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 extraordinary and disturbing powers.It starts off by establishing the uneventful normality of the village With dawning awareness of what has happened, most people indulge in denial and eventually a degree of acceptance The abnormal becomes normal, and things get stranger still.WomenThe big flaw of this book is its neglect of female characters, especially given that it is the women who are violated in such a profound way More understandable is the overprotective attitudes of some of the men, exercising benign censorship , especially for the less educated women That may not be acceptable now, but surely typical of the period It also oddly omits almost all mention of older and younger siblings of the Children the capital C is used and barely mentions the pain of the putative fathers.Philosophical ScopeThe strength of the book is the way it raises so many philosophical issues in a relatively light way and barely 200 pages Fear of tabloid exploitation The nature of self and individuality and how it is affected by mind control and shared consciousness Whether scientific dogma overrides religious dogma Societal and biological pressures on mothers to bond with their babies Original sin Triumph over adversity and the desire to see good in situations Whether ends justify means What it means to be human Evolution versus creationism The nature of evil and what can be done in the name of self preservation The politics of colonisation and revolutionThe ultimate question is whether humanitarianism trumps biological duty, and hence whether civilisation could ultimately be our downfall in a hostile environment ProgenitorA sci fi writer should be ahead of their time But there s a downside One of the problems Wyndham suffers nowadays is that to modern readers, his work can seem derivative, which is a dreadful injustice when in many cases it s because modern writers have derived ideas from him.Village of the DamnedThere are two film versions 1960 black and white classic, starring George Sanders See details on imdb here 1995 starring Christopher Reeve, Kirstie Alley, and also featuring Mark Hamill See details on imdb here.Wyndham s Next Take on These IdeasEleven years after publishing this, Wyndham published Chocky, which takes very similar themes, but puts them in a realistic setting, and a single cuckoo child, who is firmly human See my review here.
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.
- 240 pages
- The Midwich Cuckoos
- John Wyndham
- 15 March 2019 John Wyndham