Roadside Picnic
Roadside Picnic

Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky is a strange and affective science fiction novel—classic, understated, and far deeper than it initially seems. First published in Russia in 1972, its most recent translation (by Olena Bormashenko) was put out in 2012 with a foreword by Ursula K. LeGuin. The story is often prosaic, its events inexplicable, its conclusion tantalizingly inconclusive. The prose is direct, with little decoration. Yet it works. Memorably. Roadside Picnic forces the reader to consider humanity’s self-defined place in the cosmos, and in its own quiet way taps into the primal well of weird fiction by making that place very small, and very insignificant. But in the midst of that brush with nothingness it also presents us with a glimpse into the inner workings of human faith.

***

Roadside Picnic happens in a world where undescribed aliens landed, stayed for a while, and left again–all without making actual contact with humanity. The event is known as The Visit, the areas where they touched down are known as Zones, and the remnants the aliens left behind are deadly.  “At night when you crawl by, you can see the glow inside, as if alcohol were burning in bluish tongues. That’s the hell slime radiating from the basement. But mostly it looks like an ordinary neighborhood, with ordinary houses, nothing special about it except that there are no people around” (21).

But men still go into the Zones, and most of them come back out intact. Whatever can be brought out is studied for possible use. The perverse wonder of the alien artifacts so many people die to acquire is that no one really has any idea what they are or how they work. There is speculation, much of it wrong, and occasional, accidentally found functionality. But no human understands this extraterrestrial stuff. It is all beyond them, as much as they want to believe that their scientific inquiry will lead them somewhere.

And still, the government studies it and the black market profits from it. Both sides believe, whether they realize it or not, that the aliens left these things behind for a reason—and if they just keep studying what they can drag out of the Zone, they will eventually discover something wonderful. Both sides of the law make plans of how to find their alien treasures, they develop strategies, they draw hopeful maps–but more than anything their survival and success in the Zone is only instinct and blind luck.

The Zone
The Zone

The Strugatsky brothers don’t try to disguise this perceptual fallacy lurking inside Roadside Picnic, and in fact explicitly state why the alien cast-offs remain inexplicable: “Xenology is an unnatural mixture of science fiction and formal logic. At its core is a flawed assumption—that an alien race would be psychologically human…biologists have already been burned attempting to apply human psychology to animals. Earth animals” (86). If we cannot ever hope to understand the aliens, we can never hope to understand what they create. It is as incomprehensible to us as an iphone is to an anteater.

***

In order to humanize the novel’s blunt philosophy, Roadside Picnic follows the life and career of one Redrick Schuhart. The plot is more of a slice of Red’s life than any traditional, hero’s journey-style narrative. When he is introduced at the age of 18, he works for the International Institute of Extraterrestrial Cultures by day, and as a stalker—a Zone scavenger–by night. His night work is illegal, and breathtakingly dangerous. He knows what’s at risk, but it still draws him in.

Redrick is an offbeat everyman. The character’s blend of cynicism and idealism, fatalism and vast hope, is realistic and attractive. Roadside Picnic follows him until he is 31, using his experiences as illustration. He may be a stalker, but he is an essentially decent person. He is a solid husband and father. He is a loyal friend. He is a disaffected employee, whichever side of the law he is working on. He has no grand plan. And yet, it is human nature to impose order on such planlessness—and where there is order, there is room for hope. And Red, believing in a stalkers’ legend and in his own personal goodness, still hopes for a higher meaning to come from what the aliens left behind.

***

And yet whether Redrick finds what he seeks remains open to multiple interpretations. In the end, Roadside Picnic is a disturbing and challenging novel. It’s observations about humanity’s ability to interact with the world, if accepted as true, are deeply uncomfortable to own. For the Strugatskys, the hope and faith they let their characters nurture is protection from a weirder truth–because when the Strugatskys look into the void at the heart of Roadside Picnic, nothing at all looks back.

E.A. Ruppert contributes book and media reviews for NerdGoblin.com.  Thanks for checking this out. To keep up with the latest NerdGoblin developments, please like us on Facebook , follow us on Twitter, and sign up for the NerdGoblin Newsletter.

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They Look Like People
They Look Like People

They Look Like People, a dark little film, was introduced at the Slamdance film festival way back in January 2015 and picked up by streaming services earlier this year. It’s been billed as low-key psychological suspense, and it can be. It is just as much a slow moving relationship study that could have been more thoroughly fleshed out in its 80 minute running time. Still, the story is complete, the characters interesting, and the film itself quite beautiful.

***

They Look Like People is director Perry Blackshear’s labor of love—he wrote, produced, directed, shot, and edited it, all with good results. The only thing Blackshear didn’t do was act in it. But he picked a very involved small cast for his essentially three-character screenplay. The possibly schizophrenic Wyatt is played by Mac Leod Andrews (who also produced the film), his damaged friend Christian is played by Evan Dumouchel (another producer), and Christian’s competent, silly love interest, Mara, is played by Margaret Ying Drake. All three are intense and believable.

They Look Like People begins charmingly enough with childhood best friends Wyatt and Christian suddenly reconnecting after an untold number of years apart. In addition to many other alluded-to life changes, both are reeling from failed relationships. Christian is trying to take control of his life again. Wyatt is losing his already tenuous grip on reality.

There are many well-done small touches. Blackshear makes excellent use of sound— the film is filled with the background patter of clocks ticking, insects buzzing, phones clicking, rail cars chattering. Coupled with the mechanical noises, the ambient sounds of human movement and activity give They Look Like People a surprisingly distant feel.

The use of light and color is also effective in creating a sense of distance. Greys and blues are the dominant palette. Blackshear creates a washed out look using rainy daylight, early morning winter sun, and bare basement fluorescents that evokes a feeling of alienation. Developing from that, the special effects are minimalist and hallucinatory, sliding in rather than jumping out. They build an atmosphere that is creepy instead of truly scary.

The basement, where things get worse
The basement, where things get worse

Other effects and techniques are less restrained. There are some distorted voice-over phone calls warning Wyatt of dire things like, “If you ever hear three claps of thunder in a clear sky, the war has begun.” There are other voice-overs intoning pseudo-profound affirmations for Christian. A significant amount of the movie takes place in a cluttered, cave-like basement, which generates its own sense of foreboding. Unfortunately, when rising action finally happens down there it recalls every shoestring horror movie since The Blair Witch Project.

But this is Blackshear’s directorial debut, and the weaknesses in They Look Like People reflect only inexperience.

For example, it needed a stronger editing hand. Too much of They Look Like People’s limited running time is spent on indulgent extended scenes that don’t add any depth to the story. And there is a lot of blank space—the screen goes black for long seconds between scenes like a curtain coming down. The episodic presentation feels unnecessary, given how short the film is.

Waiting for...something
Waiting for…something

What this slow pacing does is thin out an otherwise well-constructed story. There are deeper issues raised and then ignored, and hints of tragedy dropped in and then abandoned—all clues to how Christian and Wyatt got to this place. There was room to give them real context. The unexplored parts are more intensely missed for it.

***

The bottom line is that They Look Like People works. The wounded characters and the sensory details pulled me in despite the glacial pacing.

They Look Like People isn’t a horror movie, not even a psychological one. It is unsettling, ambiguous, and sad, a disturbing and at times uncomfortable dip into an altered reality. But I did not find it frightening. I found it fascinating in a raw-edged kind of way. Small, slow, and subdued, it has the ability to make me want more.

E.A. Ruppert contributes book and media reviews for NerdGoblin.com.  Thanks for checking this out. To keep up with the latest NerdGoblin developments, please like us on Facebook , follow us on Twitter, and sign up for the NerdGoblin Newsletter.

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Midnight Special's star child
Midnight Special’s star child

Midnight Special is one of those movies I wanted so much to love. I liked it—a great deal, actually—and I recommend it highly for its emotional depth, but I feel the holes and unevenness of the story-line derailed its shot at greatness. There is genuine warmth alongside its danger, and real humanity with its science fiction. There are also too many opportunities to question the how and why of it that pulled me out of what was otherwise a thoughtful and well-made film.

Written and directed by Jeff Nichols, Midnight Special has a similar feel to Spielberg’s work in many ways, with sincere sentiment, strong family connections, and a warm glow. In addition to that influence Midnight Special is also obviously a labor of love, which is perhaps why Nichols has difficulty drawing the line between the mystical and the concrete as the story progresses.

Midnight Special begins with great promise in a setting rich with potential—a heady mix of supernatural powers, other dimensions, fundamentalist cults, and the feds—but after a strong start the plot loses its initial focus and the action sags. A great revelations comes midway into the movie and the momentum is hard to regain. At one point, three characters are simply standing around in a parking lot for what feels like an eternity of screen time. Missteps like that trip up the storytelling and weaken its power.

And this is a powerful story.

In brief, Midnight Special is about an extraordinary child born to members of an apocalyptic cult in rural Texas. The boy’s father and the fathers’ best friend escape with him on the cusp of his triggering a possibly devastating, possibly transcendent supernatural occurrence. The cult wants him back and is in hot pursuit. So is the federal government.

In a way, Nichols gives us too much and not enough all at once. The mysteries felt a little too explained, to me, as if he were trying to make them plausible or at least narratively consistent, and stopped in medias res. He wants to convince the audience that there is a spiritual logic behind the ranch group’s worship with evidence that doesn’t tie together. He offers revelations from the federal investigation that reveal nothing. He offers reasons for keeping Alton in the dark that, even when described, don’t fit anything we have seen. I feel Nichols’s script would have been stronger if he had actually left out more details—let the faith be blind, let the phenomena be inexplicable, to preserve the sense of wonder he works so hard to evoke.

It's about friends and family in Midnight Special
It’s about friends and family in Midnight Special

A large part of that wonder can be attributed to the actors. The cast is strong, the acting natural, and the characters are all realistic despite the events all around them. As the supernatural boy, Alton, Jaeden Leiberher is perfect with his small, serious face and matter-of-fact intelligence. Michael Shannon and Kirsten Dunst as Roy and Sarah, Alton’s parents, are convincing in their pain, belief and intensity. Joel Edgerton’s Lucas, Roy’s best friend, is forceful and solid as a now-rogue state trooper who has come to believe in Alton’s potential divinity. And as the NSA agent Paul Sevier, Adam Driver brings quiet competence and a clear-eyed willingness to his character as Paul is also drawn in to Alton’s supernatural world.

All the characters move under great weight, but they are not crushed by it. They endure, and they believe. Alton’s vulnerability, his parents’ love and faith, Lucas’s friendship and dawning belief, Paul’s openness to something more in the world, all form the core strength of the movie. Alton’s power may drive the plot, but human connection makes it work.

Alton
Too much power for a little boy

The visual imagery used to show Alton’s power is spectacular and shocking—even to someone steeped in blockbusters–and still so very convincing in its context. At points Alton suffers from the abilities he cannot control, and the audience can’t help but feel his pain with him. But it isn’t clear how a boy with seemingly so little control over his own abilities can be a solace as well as a threat. He is made out to be part radio, part laser, and part warhead. The risk of being close to that seems overwhelming, and Alton’s magic loses some of its transcendence when Nichols begins trying to explain it piecemeal.

Flaws and all this is still a beautiful film, surprising, sweet, and moving, but I think it lacks the power to rise any farther than that. It is still worth seeing, even more than once, for the fine acting and the striking cinematography. It plays like an affectionate amalgam of Close Encounters, Firestarter, and Starman, and despite some startling effects and spare but jarring violence, Midnight Special is at heart a gentle film. It does not bear too much analysis. But even with its imperfections and inconsistencies it is worth seeking out.

E.A. Ruppert contributes book and media reviews for NerdGoblin.com.  Thanks for checking this out. To keep up with the latest NerdGoblin developments, please like us on Facebook , follow us on Twitter, and sign up for the NerdGoblin Newsletter.

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Cuckoo's Egg's best known cover, by Michael Whelan
Cuckoo’s Egg

The cuckoo is a bird best known for laying a single egg among the clutch of another species, in order that its chick be raised by the other parents. Cuckoo’s Egg, C.J. Cherryh’s short stand-alone 1985 novel, is about a very similar occurrence. It is a closely-told tale of human and alien interaction set in a vividly imagined—if thinly described–world that is revealed mainly through suggestion and reference instead of direct depiction.

The prolific author of a number of sweeping science fiction series, C.J. Cherryh’s storytelling technique is distinctive. She is known for using a third person subjective point of view so limited it is essentially internal. Cuckoo’s Egg is a striking example of the technique. The text is loaded with parentheticals that transcribe the main characters’ in-the-moment thoughts and reactions as they occur inside the third person POV. Consequently, we experience the narrative not just through their perspectives, but as their private understandings of their world and circumstances.

It’s easy to forget just how much of our own everyday environment we ignore, taking its familiarity for granted. We know what everything is and do not pause to think why it is, or what it looks like. We do not describe to ourselves the chairs we sit in every day. We just sit in them. We do not explain to ourselves the different forms of formal and informal address we use socially. We just use the right one for the situation. We learned all the rules and no longer dwell on them. Cherryh’s writing is like that. Her characters inhabit a familiar world. They are not going to mull over the layout of their own bedrooms for our benefit.

And ultimately, that stripping away of extraneous detail allows us to be fully inside the characters’ minds.

Cuckoo’s Egg is told almost entirely through the two primary characters of Duun and Thorn, alternating only as the explicit needs of the narrative demand. Cherryh does not waste words with lengthy exposition for the audience. She opts for immersion.

The set-up is straightforward, and the story begins without preamble. Duun, by description an alien adult, has just become the caretaker of Thorn, by description a human infant. Except that in Cuckoo’s Egg, it is Thorn who is the alien being. “Shonunin were naked when they were born, but downed in silver that quickly went to dapples and last of all to gray body coat and black on limbs and ears and crest. Duun held the creature on its discarded wrappings, on his knees, and its downless skin was naked and pink as something lately skinned, except for a thatch of nondescript hair atop its skull” (1-2).

The details are fine and intimate, and in their intimacy give an intuitively coherent picture of the race and culture involved: “He held it as if it were a shonun child and washed its eyes with his tongue (they tasted salt and musty). There was nothing he spared himself, no last repugnance he did not overcome. Such was his patience” (9).

Cuckoo's Egg limited edition from Phantasia Press
Cuckoo’s Egg limited edition from Phantasia Press

The Shonunin are a neatly-imagined alien race, although I hesitate to use the word ‘alien’ to describe them. The story told is ultimately theirs, the world it happens on is theirs, and as the sole human character, Thorn is theirs as well, having never known another world or another people. Physiologically and psychologically, the Shonunin are reasonably compatible with humans. They are distinctly humanoid. The environment of their planet is comfortable for human life. Their family structures are not dramatically different. They are a technologically advanced species who have not yet conquered space. While the familiar details of the Shonunin form and culture are the plot device that makes the whole story possible, they also serve to blur the line between human and alien from a reader’s perspective.

Duun raises Thorn in isolation as closely as possible to how he would raise a Shonun child, training him as a hatani (perhaps best explained as a warrior-judge) and protecting him. Although Thorn is aware that he is different from Duun, he is not entirely aware he is another species. That is forced upon him when he accidently bursts into a Shonun settlement: “He spun on his heel and ran. He heard doors slam, more than once. Heard running come towards the fence, heard voices at his back. ‘Gods, it’s him!’ one yelled, and others took it up. ‘It’s that thing—that thing!’” (41).

At times the effect is a little disorienting, to see a member of our own species described by another species in the terms we would use for some strange, half-legendary creature: “(“When you get used to him he’s beautiful,” Sagot said. “Frightening, like some big animal you’ve gotten closer to than you wanted. But you want to watch him move. There’s a fascination to such things, isn’t there?”)” (107). Viewed both as monster and as beast by most of the Shonunin, and a threat to their way of life, Thorn is dehumanized and depersonalized in ways those words don’t quite adequately encompass. It is a slightly unnerving position from which to experience the story, and a slightly uncomfortable way of looking at what we take for granted as humanity and personhood. It is like reading history from another nation’s point of view.

The Grand Master herself, C.J. Cherryh
The Grand Master herself, C.J. Cherryh

The political, scientific, and cultural landscape in which Thorn is raised is complicated and for the vast bulk of the novel only obliquely explained. The backstory and its influence on Shonun civilization is not revealed until the last twenty-odd pages, when Cherryh at last foregoes her usual reserve in an enormous, finally detailed explanation that allows the novel’s conclusion to be both satisfying and loaded with a heady ‘What if?’.

So my conclusion is this: Densely detailed, occasionally inscrutable, emotionally sensitive yet action-packed, Cuckoo’s Egg is, I think, a solid starting point for anyone wishing to sample C.J. Cherryh’s work, and an excellent point to revisit if you already know how good an author she is.

E.A. Ruppert contributes book and media reviews for NerdGoblin.com.  Thanks for checking this out. To keep up with the latest NerdGoblin developments, please like us on Facebook , follow us on Twitter, and sign up for the NerdGoblin Newsletter.

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Spoiler alert.

I hadn’t planned on writing about 10 Cloverfield Lane this week. And even though it looked like it would be good, I hadn’t planned on even seeing it before it made it to cable, content to let it get lost in the lead-up to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and dismiss it as just a sequel to a movie I hadn’t seen.

Boy, am I’m glad I didn’t wait.

Spoilers coming. Big ones.

Only loosely connected to the original Cloverfield, 10 Cloverfield Lane was kept very effectively under wraps until its release. The previews strongly suggested a siege-mentality monster movie. But the previews lied. 10 Cloverfield Lane is actually a frightening and finely constructed character study disguised as an alien invasion movie. By the time the explosions and the CGI monsters show up, the best, most fascinating, and most terrifying part of the film is behind us.

An uncomfortable moment at 10 Cloverfield Lane
An uncomfortable moment at 10 Cloverfield Lane

Many well-made action and horror movies rely on strategic overacting from their leads, to allow the human characters to keep up with the loud and boisterous CGI going on all around them. 10 Cloverfield Lane goes the other way—its leads have to underplay their characters. The setting is so narrowly focused and so intimate that emoting would have ruined the admirable amount of tension built into the story.

All the actors were excellent—with a cast of only three, they had to be. They each brought a depth and completeness to their characters that is often given short shrift in favor of moving a plot along. Here, character and plot development moved together.

Mary-Elizabeth Winstead as the POV character, Michelle, does a convincing job of creating a genuinely competent character—there is none of the too often used heroism-from-nowhere showboating, here. Michelle is always shown to be a smart, creative, and capable person (with a single, bluntly explained character flaw), and her attempts to save herself grow directly and believably from there.

As the third-wheel character, Emmet, John Gallagher, Jr. demonstrates an intelligence and sympathy in the role that makes Emmet’s sacrifice more than just a dramatic shock. Emmet may not be as clever as Michelle, but he trusts the case she builds against John Goodman’s prepper, Howard, and is fully committed to their escape.  Emmet is portrayed as a fundamentally decent fellow, long familiar with Howard and so unable to clearly gauge the threat—in Emmet’s experience Howard has always been a little weird, but not really dangerous.

A musical interlude
A musical interlude

And for most of the movie, that seems like it could be true. Or not. The signs point both ways, and interpretation depends greatly on the angle you read them from.

And because of that incredibly nuanced uncertainty, John Goodman owns this movie. Goodman underplays his Howard to devastating effect as a man who has had the opportunity to stew in his own juices too long to recover from the experience. I believed him completely as Howard struggled with his temper and paranoia, his lies and his desire to be loved, his uncomfortable attempts to be polite and proper.  Howard is so frightening because we all know someone kind of like him, a little uneven, a little paranoid, a little absolutist in their thinking, a self-described nice guy who has been screwed over by someone and who still gets mad about it long after anyone else would have let it go.

Puzzles within puzzles at 10 Cloverfield Lane
Puzzles within puzzles at 10 Cloverfield Lane

Goodman’s compelling portrayal of Howard Stambler reminded me in some ways of Heath Ledger’s Joker. There is artistry in it. You know something’s off, but the true scope of the menace, of the madness, is so subtly played that when it is finally laid bare it stings like a slap in the face. There are so many hints to the true danger that could be easily read as mere quirks, but they build inexorably into a shocking scene that, while it is a truly unexpected jump-scare, is not for me the genuine terror. That comes after, when Howard appears at Michelle’s door, shaven, neatly dressed, and ready to be a family. That’s when we get to see how dire the situation is, when Michelle’s fate is laid out clearly before her and the mercy of a straightforward bullet to the head isn’t in it.

10 Cloverfield Lane does stumble at a couple of points, and especially in its conclusion. There are times when the mechanics of the plot are too close to the surface. There is the wrenching acid barrel scene, where Michelle’s inability to act to save Emmet—her declared character flaw–is held up for the audience in case they forgot about it. And having Howard morph into a typical maniac to make Michelle’s final escape attempt more exciting comes across as lazy writing. It is exciting, in a cheap way, but does nothing to add real tension to the danger Michelle faces and quite a bit to take away from the credibility Goodman has established for Howard.

The end is actually a disappointment to me. Having escaped—no, having conquered—Howard’s bunker, Michelle’s impromptu battle with the aliens feels hammered-on to link this movie to the first Cloverfield (as, indeed, it was—the original script was titled The Cellar). By the time we get to the aliens enough has happened already, the audience’s emotions have been thoroughly wrung out, and additional action sequences seem gratuitous.

So in short, I think 10 Cloverfield Lane is a must-see for the superb acting (I’m going to say it now: give John Goodman the Oscar. He’s earned it.), and take or leave the last fifteen minutes as you will. It’s intense and frightening and convoluted enough without them–because an alien invasion has nothing on John Goodman.

E.A. Ruppert contributes book and media reviews for NerdGoblin.com.  Thanks for checking this out. To keep up with the latest NerdGoblin developments, please like us on Facebook , follow us on Twitter, and sign up for the NerdGoblin Newsletter.

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If you have been saving up The X-Files for a binge watch, be warned of spoilers ahead.

The X-Files--don't stop believin'
The X-Files Season Ten–don’t stop believin’

Season ten of The X-Files is nothing if not ambitious. Over the course of only six broadcast hours it brings up or takes on transgenderism, Islamic terrorism, God, immigration, media conspiracies, motherhood, monsters, and medical experiments—some of which are more “out there” than others. While the assortment of threats and themes covers The X-Files’ usual ground, many topics seem to be thrown in more to give a sense of currency to the revamped show than to contribute materially to the goings-on. As flaws go, though, the sometimes blunt attempts to reference current issues are a mild one. It’s been a long time, after all.

Beginning with “My Struggle,” the initial, mainly serious episode that catches Mulder and Scully up to the present day and re-orients them in the vast government/alien conspiracy, the revival of The X-Files is a rollercoaster of topics, threats, and attitudes ranging from the grim to the hilarious, to the maudlin and the ridiculous. The new season presents a highly condensed version of the original series’ many moods, which, while engaging and on-point, taken as a whole come off as trying just a little too hard to hit every single mark.

The second episode, “Founder’s Mutation,” riffs on the theme of secret alien experiments brought up in “My Struggle” while still leaning on a monster-of-the-week story line. While the plot is interesting enough, it contained, for me, an enormous hole based on really questionable Department of Defense contractor hiring practices. This episode also brings in a fantasy version of Mulder and Scully’s son, William, and a whole host of regrets.

“Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster” is a complete 180 from the show’s previous serious tones, embracing the inherent silliness of the show in a very affectionate way. In between the mockery of modern life, psychoanalysis, and traditional lycanthropy, episode three hammers in as many easter eggs and inside jokes as an hour long show can hold. Of the current series, this is certainly my pick as the best installment.

The fourth episode, “Home Again,” is again a monster of the week, but without the ties to aliens and conspiracies. Art, Buddhist thought-forms, homelessness, exploitation, and disenfranchisement are all tied into a neat, greasy bundle of green goo and maggots that kills people. Graphically. The more interesting counterplot once again invokes their son and makes a rekindling of Mulder’s and Scully’s relationship seem genuinely possible, if not likely.

“Babylon,” episode five, again introduces a generous dose of silliness with the young, alternate versions of Mulder and Scully and Mulder’s wild night on suggested hallucinogens. However, the episode feels off balance because the dominant plot concerns visions of God, Islamic immigrants and suicide bombers. It is not an easy pairing.

After a recap of Scully’s history of involvement in the X-Files, the final episode of this short season, “My Struggle II,” comes back hard to the all-encompassing conspiracy from the first episode and the pervasive alien DNA problem. It retells a much-told plot (shades of The Stand and The Omega Man) with oddly stagey exposition and an utter lack of humor or lightness in an attempt to reference all the previous episodes. The younger agents are back, the hospital from episode two is back, the religious iconography from episode five, the Cigarette Smoking Man, the internet conspiracy theorist. The conspiracy becomes amplified with anti-vaccination hysteria, threatened ecological collapse, chemtrails causing immune system failure, and a doomsday virus set to kill all humanity unless it can be nullified. Of course there is far too much loaded into a single episode, and it ends on a wicked cliffhanger.

It would be cruel not to continue the show.

The X-Files Season Ten: Mulder and Scully in action
The X-Files Season Ten: Mulder and Scully in action

As of now, Fox has not committed to any additional seasons, but the possibility remains open, especially with the strong ratings the mini-series has garnered. All in all, the renewed X-Files with its older, wiser, more tested and more contemplative agents is a comfortable place for viewers to fall back into. The storylines, while crowded in a short season, are well paced and well written despite large doses of silliness, and the overall mood is not one of reboot but of reflection. There is pleanty of excitement still to be had, an there are still some truths to be sought after in this new version. And I think there are plenty of fans still willing, and quite eager, to look.

E.A. Ruppert contributes book and media reviews for NerdGoblin.com.  Thanks for checking this out. To keep up with the latest NerdGoblin developments, please like us on Facebook , follow us on Twitter, and sign up for the NerdGoblin Newsletter.

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