Being an X-Phile and a Vancouver resident, I am fairly excited about the #XFilesRevival. Being also a bookworm, I somehow found myself publicly pledging to read all six original tie-in novels…
I read one of these things back in about 1996, at which point I would have been in middle school. Then I forgot they existed for years. Then I remembered but turned up my nose at them. (What gives? I also had some sort of unofficial episode guide, which went the way of a garage sale when I moved out of my childhood home. I am currently regretting that, wishing I could just fly this nerd flag high now that I am in my more self-assured – and also nostalgic – adult years. In the words of a close friend and fellow X-Phile, a nerd is just someone who likes something a lot and isn’t afraid to admit it. Words to live by.)
Anyway, the novels. You can read more about them on this X-Files wiki, but the essential info is that six official (as in, franchised) novels were published over the (halcyon) years. I bought the whole a lot of them one night (they come cheap now as e-books), and set myself down with the first one straight away. It took me about four hours, according to the reading stats on my Kobo. Here are the results. YOU’RE WELCOME.
1. Goblins by Charles Grant (Harper Prism, 1994)
Basically, it is a mystery. Without giving any of the story away – because I know you are all planning to drop everything and read this old book for yourselves immediately – I will say that Moose and Squirrel are paired with a rookie agent team and sent to a backwater town to investigate a couple of murders that seem to have been perpetrated by an invisible person. There is some stuff about a secretive army base, and a profit-hungry scientist working on that base, and some townsfolk.
I hardly ever read mysteries, but I have read the occasional one, so I understand what to expect in terms of structure. This particular book, especially at the climax, cut very quickly back-and-forth between scenes, in a clear attempt to replicate the fast action of the show. As a reader I found this little confusing, but I got through it.
Most #so90s part: Mulder, At one point, checks out a hot girl who rollerblades past him and is described as wearing red satin shorts with a red satin tank top and having feathered bangs. Tubular!
Other best moment: the below reference to Scully’s “fashion life”. What? First of all, hilarious phrasing. Secondly, Scully is the most elegant and put-together lady on the whole TV. She couldn’t be mussed if she tried. Thirdly, the Scully POV is written so, so badly. This was true throughout the book. The writer simply could not get into her head and make her believable in the same way he did with Mulder, who was for the most part perfectly plausible and imaginable.
Some of the scenes were confusing and felt rushed. Is this just because writing action is hard? Another confusing thing about this novel was that I actually had to remember the names of characters who, on a TV show, play bit parts; while watching an episode, you only have to remember faces. Presumably this is also an aspect of the mystery genre that just takes getting used to. But there was a lot of me thinking to myself things like, “Oh, this name again. Is this the sergeant from the army base, or is this the scientist with the secret lab?”
One of the townsfolk is an elderly lady who comes off as slightly batty, and we are expected to develop a mild affection for her, but it feels forced. Then again, I suppose our affections are forced in a similar manner every time Mulder and Scully have to rescue some rando who appears for just one episode.
The Mulder–Scully dynamic was, I admit, captured pretty well. Small but tender gestures, minor counts of possessiveness, professional veneer and smooth functioning as a partnership, dry humor. No real complaints on this delicate front.
Conclusion: Story-wise, it was pretty much like watching a monster-of-the-week episode, which means, overall, I had a fun time. Writing-wise, it was like reading a decent fanfic that – bonus! – had been copy-edited. I expect the other novels to deliver in a similar way.
Here it is on Goodreads.
One down, five to go.