Read The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham Free Online
Book Title: The Midwich Cuckoos|
The author of the book: John Wyndham
Edition: Penguin Books Ltd
The size of the: 19.53 MB
City - Country: No data
Date of issue: August 18th 2008
ISBN 13: 9780141033013
Format files: PDF
Loaded: 2872 times
Reader ratings: 6.5
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What a strange story!
An easy read, at first glance, with dated language and characters. But there is more 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 more?
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...
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Read information about the authorJohn 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'. As well as The Day of the Triffids, he wrote The Kraken Wakes, The Chrysalids, The Midwich Cuckoos (filmed as Village of the Damned) and The Seeds of Time.
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