01/09/2008. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts
pub: Penguin. 220 page paperback. Price: £ 7.99 (UK), $16.00 (CAN). ISBN: 978-141-03301-3.
check out website: www.penguin.com
'The Midwich Cuckoos' is one of five of John Wyndham's book being re-issued by Penguin in September this year. It has also had no less than three film adaptations made from its plot. Indeed, I reviewed the two 1960s release on DVD a couple years ago. Again, the book is influential for showing the effect on a population when the worst enemy to have is your own children.
The village of Midwich in England is just one of many scattered across the world where its entire population and anyone entering the area is rendered unconscious for a day. A few months later, all women capable of becoming pregnant are giving birth to children who are blonde, golden-eyed and definitely not brought by a terrestrial stork. They also have psionic talents which they use to protect themselves. These villages become no-go areas except for those who live there. The Midwich development wasn't the first. In the Ukraine, the Russians nuke their village as their children become too powerful. The Midwich children haven't reached that level of danger yet but it's only a matter of time.
The menace from within has always been a rich idea to mine in Science Fiction and this 1957 novel plays it Wyndham's way with it happening to normal people and the effect it has on them. Quite what lesson it should teach looking back half a century is hard to say. a greater tolerance for the unusual and being less fearful might help. The children here were just protecting themselves. It's like have a so-called nerd capable of defending his position than being bullied. The fact that its still effective today must surely indicate this book is required reading and if you've missed it so far, then you're in for a rather scary treat.
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Stephen Hunt's novels - USA