Follow TV Tropes

Following

Literature / The Midwich Cuckoos

Go To

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/wyndham_midwich_cuckoos.jpg
The Midwich Cuckoos is a 1957 science fiction novel by John Wyndham.
Advertisement:

All the women of childbearing age and capability in the village of Midwich simultaneously become pregnant with alien children who all share the same uncanny appearance and have the ability to mentally manipulate people.

It has been filmed twice under the title Village of the Damned, first in 1960 and then in 1995.


This novel provides examples of:

  • Aliens in Cardiff
  • Ambiguously Brown: The Children don't look like they come from any human ethnicity.
  • Asshole Victim: The wifebeater father of one of the babies is forced to repeatedly punch himself in the face after striking his infant son hard enough to leave a bruise.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Anthea's pregnancy. It's a human baby; she just happened to conceive at the worst possible time.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: The Children aren't being deliberately malicious as we would understand it—they simply put protecting themselves above literally everything else. They also don't hate humanity; they merely see conflict between the two species as inevitable and therefore intend to win.
  • Advertisement:
  • Bizarre Baby Boom
  • But I Can't Be Pregnant!: Virgins and a faithful wife whose husband has been away for several months are understandably perplexed. Rather horribly, at least one of the virgins is a "woman" in that she's started menstruating but is really little more than a child herself.
  • Creepy Child: Although, unlike the examples in both film adaptations, they don't stay that way, at least not physically. They are also capable of not being this, provided they like you enough—Gayford is stunned by how they act around Zellaby.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Any pain inflicted on the children is immediately met by the harshest retaliation they can muster, no matter whether it was an accident. Some of this is by simply not quite understanding their own strength or how humans work (the boy Child doesn't seem to understand that he's permanently damaged the Chief Inspector, for example). A lot, though, is because they understand the concept of the preemptive strike extremely well.
  • Advertisement:
  • First-Person Peripheral Narrator: The narrator, Richard Gayford, is a fairly uninspiring and relatively uninvolved observer. If the book can be said to have a protagonist, it would have to be Zellaby.
  • Hive Mind: At the very least, all of the male children and all of the female children are linked together. Zellaby suggests that they might not be individuals at all, but rather one male and one female example of their species with several bodies.
  • It's the Only Way to Be Sure/Nuclear Option: An entire Russian village that has undergone a similar baby boom is nuked by the military. They can't even warn the innocent parties to leave, because if they did, the babies would be tipped off and do something about it...
  • Kids Are Cruel: A suggestion for why the response of the Children to any attack is so grossly disproportionate. Their powers allow them to act out the cruelty associated with this trope against adults and even the military.
  • Kill It with Fire: The villagers attempt to destroy the Grange with torches. It ends with them being forced to fight one another, in a few cases to the death.
  • Mind Rape: Let's just say that if you're not afraid of the Children, and start yelling at one, you will soon learn exactly how afraid you ought to be. When they apply that fear by directly triggering the chemicals in your brain as hard as possible. This is supposed to be a temporary punishment, but Gayford and the psychologist realize that the psychological effect is going to last forever.
  • Mugging the Monster: The Chief Constable of the county, enraged by by the attitude of one of the Children, tries to cow him into submission by giving him a rage-filled dressing-down. He soon has cause to regret this.
  • Rapid Aging/Younger Than They Look: The Children age almost twice as fast as normal humans. By the time they are chronologically 9 years old, they look about 16-17.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Several of the female researchers at the government facility up and leave, refusing to deal with the Children they gave birth to (one of them even threatens to sue if they try to make her come back). Ferralyn Zellaby also leaves, although it takes some convincing.
  • Super Intelligence: Possibly as a result of being a Hive Mind, possibly just because whatever they are.
  • Supernatural Gold Eyes: When born, the alien babies seem human except for their uncanny gold eyes.
  • Your Cheating Heart: The Dayout, apart from being quite the scandal on its own, causes a bit of a tizzy when a man is discovered to have fallen down the stairs in the cottage of a married woman whose husband was at work.
  • Would Hurt a Child: An adult intentionally harms one of the Children early in the book, while it is still a baby. This does not end well for him.


Top

Example of:

/

Feedback