The Midwich Cuckoos
The Midwich Cuckoos
Publisher's info
Title: The Midwich Cuckoos
Author: John Wyndham
Publisher: Michael Joseph
1st printing: 1957
ISBN: 0-7181-0236-3
Page count: 239

The Midwich Cuckoos is a science fiction novel written by English author John Wyndham, published in 1957. The book was adapted into a film in 1960 by Wolf Rilla entitled Village of the Damned. It was remade as an American film by John Carpenter in 1995, also titled Village of the Damned.

Synopsis Edit

Ambulances arrive at two traffic accidents which block the only roads into the fictional British village of Midwich, Winshire. Attempting to approach the village, one paramedic falls unconscious. Suspecting gas poisoning, the army is called in. However, they find that a caged canary becomes unconscious upon entering the affected region, but regains consciousness when removed. Further experiments show the region to be a hemisphere with a diameter of 2 miles (3.2 km) around the village. Aerial photography reveals an unidentifiable ground-based silver object in the centre of the created exclusion zone.

After one day the effect vanishes along with the unidentified object, and the villagers wake with no apparent ill effects. Some months later, the villagers realise that every woman of child-bearing age is pregnant, with all indications that the pregnancies were caused by xenogenesis during the period of unconsciousness referred to as the "Dayout".

When the 31 boys and 30 girls are born they appear normal except for their unusual, golden eyes and pale, silvery skin. These children have none of the genetic characteristics of their parents. As they grow up, it becomes increasingly apparent that they are, at least in some respects, not human. They possess telepathic abilities, and can control others' actions. The Children (they are referred to with a capital C) have two distinct group minds: one for the boys and another for the girls. Their physical development is accelerated compared to that of humans; upon reaching the age of nine, they appear to be sixteen-year-olds.

The Children protect themselves as much as possible using a form of mind control. One young man who accidentally hits a Child in the hip while driving a car is made to drive into a wall and kill himself. A bull who chased the Children is forced into a pond to drown. The villagers form a mob and try to burn down the Midwich Grange, where the Children are taught and live, but the Children make the villagers attack each other.

The Military Intelligence department learn that the same thing has taken place in four other parts of the world, including an Inuit settlement in the Canadian Arctic, a small township in Australia's Northern Territory, a Mongolian village, and the town of Gizhinsk in eastern Russia, northeast of Okhotsk. The Inuit killed the newborn Children, sensing they were not their own, and the Mongolians killed both the Children and their mothers. The Australian babies had all died within a few weeks, suggesting that something may have gone wrong with the xenogenesis process. The Russian town was recently destroyed by the Soviet government, using an "atomic cannon" from a range of 50–60 miles.

The Children are aware of the threat against them, and use their power to prevent any aeroplanes from flying over the village. During an interview with a Military Intelligence officer the Children explain that to solve the problem they must be destroyed. They explain it is not possible to kill them unless the entire village is bombed, which results in civilian deaths. The Children put up an ultimatum: they want to migrate to a secure location, where they can live unharmed. They demand aeroplanes from the government.

An elderly, educated Midwich resident (Gordon Zellaby) realises the Children must be killed as soon as possible. As he has only a few weeks left to live due to a heart condition, he feels an obligation to do something. He has acted as a teacher and mentor to the Children and they regard him with as much affection as they can have for any human, letting him approach them more closely than they do with others. One evening, he – in effect abusing their trust – hides a bomb in his projection equipment, while showing the Children a film about the Greek islands. At an unspecified moment, Zellaby sets off the bomb, killing himself and all of the children.

The title is a reference to the cuckoo bird, which lays its eggs in the nest of other birds in the hopes that they will raise the cuckoo's offspring as their own. [1]

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