Don’t you just love the feeling of being mentally traumatised by a novel? No? Just me then. I feel like I’ve been subjected to a minor cognitive lobotomy. Don’t get me wrong, I liked it.
The Midwich Cuckoos is about the quiet, but fictional, English town of Midwich, which gets breached by a strange silver object. The object appears right in the center of the town, and during its short stay, everyone inside the towns border loses consciousness. Nobody outside of the town can try to enter it without them collapsing instantly and also losing consciousness until they are moved away from the invisible barrier. Within 24 hours the object has gone, none of the townsfolk appear to be aware of anything out of the ordinary, apart from waking up extremely cold, and nobody appears changed by this odd experience. This episode becomes known as the ‘Dayout’, and everyone carries on as normal. Except a couple of weeks after, it becomes apparent that every female of child bearing age is suddenly pregnant.
This is the kind of novel that gets you thinking. Long after I turned over the last page, I’m still thinking about the possibilities it explores. What would we do if some other life form was inexplicably thrown amongst us? How would we cope? What could we even do?
Personally, I felt that the way the townsfolk reacted to these strange events were quite understandable and authentic. I’ve heard some people comment on the novel and say that the villagers seem to except such strange goings on too easily. But how would you react? The characters in the novel are nonplussed. I think it’s completely understandable that they just accept their reality, because even if you can’t explain it, it doesn’t mean it’s not happening.
There are characters in the novel however, who do attempt to explain this curious phenomena. Gordon Zellaby, a local academic, is the source of much discourse surrounding the Children, who are soon born into the village. Gordon is a philosophical man, very esoteric, but he’s often accused (by narrator Richard Gayford most often) of talking too notionally, or thinking too abstractly. It’s inferred that not much of what he offers forth as explanation, can actually be explained. That, and I feel that most villagers were too afraid of accepting much of what Gordon was proposing.
I’ve also heard some people say that novels like this take themselves too seriously, and that the writing became repetitive and boring at times. I didn’t find this the case at all. I liked the style of writing, the idea that big things were happening but they were written so matter of factly, so languidly and occasionally fancifully. The arguably slow but consistent writing style only aided in creating a creepier atmosphere for me, and allowed me a contemplative state of mind.
This was quickly appointed into my favourite novels list. I haven’t read much science fiction but this has cemented me as an instant hardcore fan of the genre. I love what I have read of John Wyndham’s writing so far, and I own a few other of his novels that I’m hoping to get to soon.
Thanks for reading!