Plans are afoot to make Stephanie Meyer’s 2008 science fiction novel, The Host, into a movie . . .

According to recent news reports producers Nick Wechsler, Steve and Paula Mae Schwartz have put up their own money to pay for the screen rights to Stephanie Meyer's The Host novel. Andrew Niccol (Gattaca, Truman Show) will write and direct it. No news as yet on casting or release dates although a 2012 release date seems likely.

Stephanie Meyer is of course the author of the hugely popular Twilight best-selling novels, which are the basis of a highly lucrative film franchise right now. Twilight turned out to be one of last year’s unexpected box office hits and a sequel titled The Twilight Saga: New Moon is set to hit movie theatres in the States and elsewhere on 20 November of this year. A third movie, Eclipse, is planned for 2010. (They sure don’t waste time!)

The Twilight books are hugely popular with teenaged girls and an argument could be made that the novels are actually metaphors for when it is OK to lose one’s virginity. (Meyer is a Mormon, a religiously conservative group in America. One commentator called her oeuvre the “erotics of abstinence.”) To be honest we didn’t particularly like the Twilight movie. Vampires that glitter? That hokey baseball game? Actress Kristen Stewart’s incessant pouting? Then again, being male I don’t exactly fall in the books’ intended target demographic. Men don’t really care about that whole “when is it OK to have sex?” issue. After all, women need a reason for having sex, men just need a place as Billy Crystal remarked in City Slickers.

(Incidentally, I don’t believe that the Twilight movie’s huge success had anything to do with Stephanie Meyer’s cult following. Besides, who reads nowadays? Sure, the movie may have an had in-built audience in the guise of people who read the book, but the real secret behind its success lies with the casting of dreamy dude Robert Pattinson as the male lead. The teenaged girls in the cinema I saw the movie audibly gasped when he made his first onscreen appearance! Female teenage hormonal imbalances sell movie tickets – ask James Cameron, director of Titanic . . .)

"Invasion of the Body Snatchers as told from the perspective of one of the body snatchers . . ."

So when it was announced that The Host will be made into a movie I wasn’t exactly looking forward to reading Meyer’s novel for this article series. Sure, it’s not fair to judge someone’s literary output by a movie adaptation of their work. (By that yardstick Isaac Asimov should be a lousy writer if the I, Robot movie is anything to go by!) But I’m just human here, you know.

Still, to be honest The Host pleasantly surprised me. It was much better than I expected: slickly written and well-thought out. For starters, the novel boasts a genuinely interesting and original sci-fi concept. It can be summed up as “Invasion of the Body Snatchers as retold from the perspective of one of the alien body snatchers . . .”

In the near future most of Earth’s human population have been taken over by a race of parasitic aliens calling themselves “souls.”

These aliens are more like the invaders in Heinlein’s The Puppet Masters (made into a movie in 1994) and Invaders from Mars (1958, and remade in 1986 by Tobe Hooper) than they are like the ones in the various Invasion of the Body Snatchers movies. In Invasion of the body Snatchers humans are replaced by alien “duplicates.” In The Host and the other movies mentioned here, human bodies are “taken over” or “possessed” by aliens creatures that are surgically inserted in the base of their necks.

When the book starts the invasion has been over for several years. Except for a handful of humans who are in hiding, most humans have been assimilated. The Host is a first-person perspective tale recounted from the point of view of an alien soul named “Wanderer.” The alien is called that because it (she?) has lived several lives on other planets also conquered by the aliens. In the first chapter the worm-like alien is being surgically implanted into the body of Melanie Stryder, a teenage girl who was among the handful of human hold-outs and only recently captured by alien “Seekers”.

Pretty much like in the 1978 remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers it seems that humanity never knew what hit them! Many humans were assimilated before they even knew there was an alien invasion. Some humans realized what was happening when the daily news broadcasts became all mushy with human interest stories. Except for invading other planets and wiping out entire races, it would seem that the alien invaders are actually a peaceable lot and nowhere as violent as humans. Or maybe they just don’t pick on their own kind . . .


Next: "As if Ned Flanders decided to try his hand at writing science fiction . . ."




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