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The Midwich Cuckoos Mass Market Paperback – May 12, 1976

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Mass Market Paperback, May 12, 1976
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Editorial Reviews


Exciting, unsettling and technically brilliant Spectator --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

John Wyndham Parkes Lucas Benyon Harris was born in 1903, the son of a barrister. He tried a number of careers including farming, law, commercial art and advertising, and started writing short stories, intended for sale, in 1925. From 1930 to 1939 he wrote short stories of various kinds under different names, almost exclusively for American publications, while also writing detective novels. During the war he was in the Civil Service and then the Army. In 1946 he went back to writing stories for publication in the USA and decided to try a modified form of science fiction, a form he called 'logical fantasy'. As John Wyndham he wrote The Day of the Triffids, The Kraken Wakes, The Chrysalids, The Midwich Cuckoos (filmed as Village of the Damned), The Seeds of Time, Trouble with Lichen, The Outward Urge, Consider Her Ways and Others, Web and Chocky. John Wyndham died in March 1969. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 189 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (1959)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345248732
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345248732
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 4.1 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,804,055 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

62 of 68 people found the following review helpful By Stewart Robotham on October 27, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It's a shame to have to give this a 3 star rating. The story has stood the test of time extremely well but, as with so many ebooks, it is riddled with scanning errors. Publishers will have to realise that they must still spell-check and proof-read books once they have been scanned. We would not put up with this in a printed book - why should we be expected to with ebooks? If we all complain then maybe we can get somewhere.
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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Steve on February 1, 2003
Format: Hardcover
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".
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Randall D. Dunning on September 26, 2006
Format: Paperback
One reviewer caught what makes this book noteworthy: What happens when a culture is under attack and the culture's mores and folkways prevent them from adequately defending themselves? What happens when a society's virtues are exploited as strategic and tactical weaknesses by a cruel, cunning, and ruthless enemy? This is the basic question posed by the Midwich Cuckoos.

This is a classic tale of an unthinkable form of asymmetric warfare where an alien enemy exploits the baseline human instinct of nurture as the fulcrum upon which they place the lever of their one military advantage: the telepathic collective intelligence of an army of children.

Those who enjoy the horror genre of science fiction will be somewhat disappointed as is reflected by several other reviewers. John Wyndham is not Stephan King so those looking for a skin-crawling, pulse pounding scare will not find it in the pages of Cuckoos. Those who like a more subtle and cerebral read will find this work both disquieting and thought provoking. I would classify this as more of a psychological drama than a sci-fi horror thriller.
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30 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Greg Hughes on December 17, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Midwich was an ordinary village. Until the Dayout. Everyone in the village was sleeping. Anyone who ventured into the outskirts of the village would mysteriously black out. The next day things were back to normal. But every woman of suitable age was pregnant...
"The Midwich Cuckoos" is a metaphorical title for a book about collective intelligence. The alien children born in the village are identical. Golden eyed, unemotional, endowed with mental powers and superior intelligence. Over the years the Children become a bigger problem. They commit a murder and contol the minds of others. They are cold, ruthless and calculating.
This book has been described as disturbing. When it was first published the idea of children committing murderer was probably quite shocking. These days it seems normal. This is an interesting book but I prefer the apocalyptic scenarios in "The Day of the Triffids" and "The Chrysalids".
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Robert J. Crawford on May 17, 2009
Format: Paperback
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.
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