The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

The cuckoo is a bird that lays its eggs in other birds’ nests; in The Midwich Cuckoos, an alien race implants its offspring in the women of a remote English village. The children soon exhibit remarkable powers, centering on their collective consciousness and a Darwinian will to survive. The story is told through the eyes of a writer named Richard Gayford, who relates his own experiences as an inhabitant of Midwich and offers reconstructions of events that occurred while he was away in Canada. The novel is divided into two parts. The first describes events surrounding the birth of the children, the second the confrontation with their human hosts when they are nine years old.

On the night of September 26, the village of Midwich is cut off from the outside world by a mysterious force that sends everyone to sleep, rather like a poison gas. There are eleven fatalities. Afterward, all the women in the village, even those who are not sexually active, become pregnant. After some initial panic, the villagers are persuaded to keep quiet about the strange circumstances and await the birth of the babies. The lead is taken by prominent villagers, including Gordon Zellaby, a philosopher and teacher; his wife, Anthea; Charles Willers, the local doctor; and Hubert Leebody, the vicar.

Nine months after the blackout, the children are duly born. There are sixty of them, although two die from a virus infection, and they appear to be normal, except for...

(The entire section is 514 words.)