I love John Wyndham; I know he’s considered a bit old-fashioned these days, and I think it was J G Ballard who described his books as ‘cozy catastrophe’, but he could tell a damn good story.
I was originally going to do Day of the Triffids for this one (and I may still do). It’s probably his most famous book, and has spawned a couple of movies, TV series, and a wonderful radio production on BBC Radio 4. And it has had some fantastic pulpy covers (apart from the Penguin ones which had the triffid looking a bit like a hairy bollock).
But my favourite Wyndham book has always been The Midwich Cuckoos. It was the first book of his I ever read, and I thought it was deliciously unsettling. All the inhabitants of a quiet English village lose consciousness for 24 hours and not long after it is discovered that all the women of childbearing age are pregnant...
Hey, do you think spooky children with yellow eyes are a big part of the novel?
Not so sure about the emo kid top-left. I don’t think he’d come off well in a fight against the juvenile delinquents on the bottom row. “We’re from Midwich, and we’re not just gonna steal your dinner money, we’re gonna trash your car too”.
I like top-middle, but come on. Did the artist really need to include a cuckoo clock? And the kid in top-right looks like an adolescent Boris Johnson, which is even more frightening than telepathic aliens hellbent on world domination.
Just in case you missed it, children with golden/yellow eyes are an integral part of the novel. Too bad top-right didn't get the memo. Um, guys. Where does it say green eyes?
And here are some foreign language ones, which have all very sensibly dropped ‘Midwich’ from the title.
I love all of these. The Spanish one looks as if it could have been designed by Modigliani. And the Italian cover looks as if Hieronymus Bosch had a hand in it. As for the Dutch version, all I can say, is you ain't seen nothing yet.
And on to the weird ones, which if I saw them in a bookshop there is no way on earth I would pick them up.
I know they say you should never judge a book by its cover. But not this time. These covers are seriously bad. The winner of the ‘WTF – did you actually read the book’ award is the one that looks like a 1970s album cover (top-middle). Seriously, words fail me. Did the publisher even read the book? And if he did, what the hell was he on at the time? I mean look at it! Dear god, I need a sit down and some strong coffee.
The cartoony one with the calendar is just bonkers. I have no idea what it’s trying to tell me. And top-left is terrifying. It looks like the Telly Tubbies sun-baby gone rogue. As for the Dutch translation that looks like a medical instruction manual, I can’t even. Big shout out to bottom-middle for failing to understand that the cuckoos are metaphorical and it’s not the cover of Daphne du Maurier’s The Birds. Top-right almost gets a pass. It’s a scene from the book, but to me it looks like the guy got drunk and passed out rather than he inadvertently crossed a mysterious alien forcefield.
So there you have it. An assortment of covers from one of my favourite books. My copy is the Penguin edition with the golden eyes. I picked it up because the cover intrigued me. Mission accomplished