It is hard to take these (high) temperatures in February in the northeast. 60s? Something’s up. I am not talking about global warming, either. I think it is something else. Aliens? Too easy. Too obvious. Donald Trump? Maybe. Probably not, though. He’s got bigger problems right now. Lemmy Kilmister from the other side? I’d believe it if it was true. But it is probably none of that. Just an aberration, an accidental strangle of reason and regularity culminating, curiously, in the return of realized expectations. Heavy sigh. Thank god I have a lot of good books to read (or more accurately this time, books and videos) to help me cope with the heat.
The X-Files tenth season is well under way at this writing. The network is labeling it a six-episode event. Neither one of these labels seem to fit very well. I am watching it; liking it, not loving it. I am not wild about the plot, to be plain. The performances are not bad and I am more than delighted to see the principals again, although I do wish Gillian Anderson hadn’t had quite so much work done to her face. And hey, how about Mitch Pileggi’s beard, huh? That might be the high point so far. OK, not really, but I am a little underwhelmed, almost to the point of a beard being something of note. I’ll be watching the rest of the “event” and I’ll watch another one if they put it on. I am continuing on in the hope that someone bears their teeth a little more in this franchise in episodes to come. So far it feels very much like a reworking of the second movie. I want to see a little more flesh and blood.
A couple of years ago, I started watching Ancient Aliens on television. What fascinating and outrageously unlikely material it is. Anyway, watching it put me in mind of the old In Search Of… series that Leonard Nimoy hosted in the seventies. I looked around for a while and could not find any reliable streaming source (I do not want to hear about YouTube, either) so I checked Amazon for DVDs. It turns out they are available and so I bought a set. While the presentations are no-frills, they are in pretty good shape, all things considered. While I was doing this, I happened across a series that was hosted by Arthur C. Clarke on the same basic subjects. I had never heard of it but, you know what? There is a cheap DVD set of the three seasons (titled simply Arthur C Clarke Collection) that aired in the UK, I found. So I bought it. And I am telling you all this because it is far better than the old In Search Of… series. The thing that makes it better is Clarke is a skeptic, not a sensationalist. If something is horseshit, he says so. He also does not seem to mind confessing he doesn’t know whether something is true or not. The series comes across as a more genuine inquiry into the weird and horrific than any other I have seen. It is not a new thing, and it is a little obscure, but it is available on DVD (not blu-ray) and is certainly worth looking into. Highly recommended.
By the way, I learned something else digging around for In Search Of… There was a latter day revival, a one season gasp long after the end of the original run. It wasn’t very good, mainly because it was very choppy in an effort to cram in more crazy themes in each episode. Here is the interesting thing: the host was Mitch Pileggi. That’s known as a callback, ladies and gentlemen, here in the middle of the essay.
I didn’t have my feet up staring at a screen during the entire interval since the previous entry. I did read a couple of books. One of them was Ghost Heart, by John Palisano. It is a kind of vampire novel. As we often see these days (past thirty years), what you want to do with a vampire (or zombie) novel is come up with a twist or a new set of rules. In many cases, the dreaming up of new rules for vampirism has been enough to make a work publishable. These conditions make me wary of new zombie/vampire/werewolf/mummy/witch novels because of the potential for chicanery and a generally poor overall effort. John Palisano is making the rounds of classic tropes set in somewhat different environments, first with Nerves, then Dust of the Dead, and then with Ghost Heart. In all three of these novels, you get the feeling that the author did not start with the gimmick, that the story and the feeling of it all came first and the laws and the environment and the mythology grew around the more important elemental being of the characters. I am saying these are all excellent books. I am saying you should read them. Ghost Heart is the new one, so get it first, then go back to the others if you connect with the writing like I did. Recommended.
Alien Hunter: The White House, by Whitley Strieber is the latest in the “Alien Hunter” series. First of all, props and respect to Mr. Strieber who has, after all, written several seminal novels: The Hunger, Night Church, The Wolfen, and Black Magic. I love these books and I have read them all more than once. He has also written a fair bit about aliens. The alien books are not among my favorites. I am not sure why. The just do not grab me the way his supernatural fiction does. Any book of Strieber’s, though, you know is well written and will offer a good story. It might not be your cup of tea but it will be well done. I read this new one, third in the series, and it is what I expected: it is well written and I didn’t really like it much. Those of you out there who do like alien horror stories will find it grand, I think (page 96, “He felt something very unpleasant being done to him, and he knew that an electrode had been inserted into his anus.”). I have nothing bad to say about Whitley Strieber. He is an old-guard horror writer who has been hard at it for almost forty years. He is certainly one of the best authors writing in the alien suspense genre, and if you are a reader in that aisle you are going to like this new novel quite a lot.
We have again reached the end of the road. Good news is there is always another path ahead. Send me suggestions for items to review and keep watching The X-Files. We are going to need to talk about it some more.
Nightmares Illuminated is written by Wayne Edwards, ©2016 by the author, all rights reserved. Contact eMail: [email protected]
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