★★★★ 4 Stars
What is a planet but an island floating in space, after all? Fertile ground for things to evolve and conquer in a strange and never-ending cycle. What begins as a cosmic nightmare becomes a powerful metaphor for intolerance and the cruel side of nature.
The Midwich Cuckoos is unexpected. The book is itself a gestation – never truly terrifying but a slow-burning uneasiness. Whatever it looks like, there isn’t an antagonist, but two species who are too distant from each other to be compatible.
After a mysterious vehicle crash-lands into the sleepy town of Midwich, its citizens as if trapped in some half-lucid, bizarre dream are forced into birthing, hosting and raising a group of golden-eyed Children that aren’t really theirs and aren’t really children.
While the villagers are sympathetic in one light, being at the mercy of the Children, who are too quick to delve out fatal punishments to anyone who harms them, at the same time many of them are unnecessarily brutal to the Children, unwilling to work alongside them in any way or all-too-eager to burn them all alive if the opportunity presents itself. The Children only reciprocate with the hate they are given by the villagers.
This story is a bit ahead of its time, if it does wander a little too deep into its own navel (Mr. Zellaby’s long, long monologues mostly, which the main character even takes note of). I also like the feminist themes early on when Midwich’s mass number of inexplicable pregnancies is discovered, and I feel like that was handled really sensitively. The Midwich Cuckoos is worthy of its growing status as a sci-fi classic.