Author(s): John Wyndham
John Wyndham's 1957 book The Midwich Cuckoos is better known by the more sensational title of its two film adaptations, Village of the Damned. The story begins with Richard and Janet Gayford who have spent the night of September 26 in London, returning to their home in Midwich the following day. Then, in ways that are difficult to pin down, the village seems changed--not quite the same place that it was before. The nightmare that descends on Midwich has dire implications for the rest of the world; whatever dwells there is sowing the seeds for a master race of ruthless and inhumane creatures who are bent on nothing less than absolute and total domination.
In Wyndam's classically elegant, calm style, this novel explores the arrival of a collective intelligence on earth that threatens to eliminate mankind. The quiet, eerie changes that befall Midwich manifest in strange ways; on the surface, everything seems normal, but scratch a little deeper and there is a clear sense of dread. After the night of September 26, every woman of childbearing age is pregnant, all to give birth at the same time, to children who are all alike--their eyes mesmerizing, void of emotion. These children are innately possessed with unimaginable mental powers and a formidable intelligence. It is these children who develop into an unstoppable force, capable of anything and far out-reaching other humans in cunning.
The London Evening Standard called The Midwich Cuckoos "humane and urbane with a lightly sophisticated wit putting the ideas into shape." Wyndham skillfully heightens the terror by making his narrative so rational and matter-of-fact. In such a nuclear and technological age, Wyndam's story is rich in irony in that it is set in the picturesque, bucolic English Village and the "enemy", the threat, are seeming cherubim.
Wyndham's scary novel is The Handmaid's Tale meets The Day of the Triffids and what happens to a sleepy town when all its female residents become pregnant and birth children, all with the same blonde hair and abilities. This is able to be read as an allegory for the post-1940s world it was written in, but can also be taken on face value as a thriller.
Elisa, Book Grocer
Exciting, unsettling and technically brilliant Spectator
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.