V: THE SECOND GENERATION
don't see them f***ing each other over for a goddamn percentage!” Ripley
famously Burke the yuppie in Aliens back in 1986. This is however exactly what the
invaders in the TV mini-series V made humanity do three years earlier . .
The year was 1983 and the world was glued to their television
sets watching V, a mini-series in which aliens
pretending to be humanity’s friends and benefactors slowly took over
political power by duping us into actually helping them!
As far as celluloid alien invaders went, the so-called
“Visitors” in V were pretty clever. Ultimately they invaded Earth
without firing a single shot. Unlike the lot in
Independence Day they didn’t blow up most
of the planet in the process. They also weren’t hydrophobic dumb asses like the
lot in M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs either
(why invade a planet which's surface is mostly covered by water if the
actually kills you?). Actually it was our water which the Visitors were
interested in. Water which is scarce on their home world and is required
to power their giant flying saucer-shaped spaceships.
Instead the Visitors seemed to be have been studying
20th Century history and took a leaf from the rise of the Nazis in Germany
and the Fascists in Italy. Claiming to bring technological advancements
for the betterment of humanity, they however soon started making up all
kinds of plots that were apparently being dreamt up by their enemies.
Stalin used the same tactic to crack down on political dissidents
both real and imaginary. Pretty soon all kinds of civil liberties are
suspended as the equivalent of Hitler Youth gangs patrol the streets. Like
all good sci-fi, the mini-series was actually a clever allegory; this time of WWII era Vichy
France with the aliens (or Visitors) as the Nazis and Earth itself as
Pretty soon a human
Resistance arises upon discovering the truth about the aliens. Despite
pretending to be human, they are actually reptiles who subsist on a diet
of live mice and, yup, human flesh. And all they are interested in is
plundering Earth’s natural resources. But it is an uphill battle: there always human collaborators
willing to sell out their fellow man
— just as was the
case in WWII Europe.
"Writer Kenneth Johnson wants to remake his V mini-series as a
movie . . ."
The Second World War
angle and iconography (V stands for Victory as it did back then) was what
made V interesting viewing. This, plus the fact that even though the
characters were cardboard cutouts and the story littered with plot holes,
V still made for some pretty action-packed viewing.
V the miniseries was followed by another miniseries titled V
– The Final Battle (in 1984) and by a TV series titled just V
(1984-1985). In V – The Final Battle humans defeated the Visitors
by using a biological weapon. However not all the Visitors were killed and
in the TV series the Visitors develop immunity to it with the help of
humans and the fight resumes.
Now more than twenty
years later comes V – The Second Generation, a book sequel to the
original V. Kenneth Johnson novelized the script whilst NBC dragged
its feet for two years whether deciding to do a new miniseries. The
miniseries seems to be a no-go Johnson revealed to The Sci-Fi Movie Page
in an exclusive interview. Instead he is actually planning a V
movie remake (to which he still holds the rights) to be followed by a
movie sequel based on the V – The Second Generation novel.
The V – The
Second Generation novel largely ignores the events of both V – The Final
Battle and the later V TV series. Instead it follows up on the
original V miniseries. It is twenty years or so since the events
depicted in the miniseries. Humanity has been under absolute Visitor
control in that time. Much of the planet’s oceans have dwindled away
thanks to the Visitors. A vicious purge in 1999 by Diana, the leader of
the Visitors, has incapacitated the Resistance.
However, the distress
signal sent off into outer space by the Resistance has been answered.
Three aliens claiming to belong to the insectoid race opposed to the
Visitors make an appearance. There seems to be hope, sort of. The insect
aliens have fought the Visitors to a stalemate in the past and their space
fleet, hiding near the planet of Saturn, is awaiting attack orders. Will the insectoids be able to defeat the Visitors this time around? And more
importantly, can humanity trust them?
V – The Second
Generation will seem familiar to fans of the original show. It has the
human resistance fighting what appears to be a hopeless fight against the
alien invaders with lots of narrow escapes and setbacks and the like.
Characterization is kept to a minimum as always, something which makes
keeping track of the large cast difficult on the printed page. Events
would be easier to follow if V – The Second Generation were ever to
be filmed. However, the book is slow-going and at times confusing to
follow during its first half.
Things however pick up
and V – The Second Generation becomes a great nail-biter of an
airport read halfway through. V – The Second Generation may lack
the sort of hard SF ideas that mark the work of writers like Charles Stross, but that isn’t the point. It is the junk food of sci-fi. But there
is nothing wrong with that. If you’re looking for some easy escapist
holiday beach-side reading then it is perfect. The book will also make for some
great junk food television or even a movie too. Now if only someone will
please give Kenneth Johnson the money he needs to make it all happen . . .
V: The Second Generation
by Kenneth Johnson
Paperback: 448 pages
Publisher: Tor, U.S. (1 Nov 2007)