By: Kenneth Johnson
Published by: Tor
Publication date: February, 2008
I was twelve or thirteen when the original V miniseries was broadcast, and a bit older when V: the Final Battle came out. At first, I wasn’t interested, but my step-brother got me into the show, and, because I gravitated toward underdogs even then, I’ll confess that I had a bit of a crush on Willie (played by Robert Englund). This was before I’d seen A Nightmare on Elm Street, of course.
When we were at the bookstore the other night, looking for a diet book I eventually chose not to purchase, Fuzzy’s eye was caught by the trade paperback version of V: the Second Generation, and knowing that I like the series, and have ALL the tie-in books upstairs in a box, he grabbed it for me.
I read it on Friday night.
I have been sort of following news of Kenneth Johnson’s career (also I was in high school with his niece), so I knew he had dropped out of being involved with the second miniseries, and had refused to be part of the short-lived weekly series, and that this book would ret-con most of that.
I was expecting it to be awful.
It was actually a pretty good story. In this version, which picks up twenty years after the original mini-series, which ended with Juliet Parrish and Elias sending a message in the general vicinity of enemies of the alien Visitors, the reptiles are controlling most of earth, 50% of the water has been taken into their mother ships (there’s a five-page description of the Pacific Desert and an image of the Golden Gate Bridge stretching across dry sand), scientists, called Scis, are living in ghettos reminiscent of the Jewish ghettos from Nazi Germany, and the Resistance is nearly dead.
As well, there are a bunch of alien-human hybrid children (all under the age of twenty), referred to as Dregs, who are caught between the human and alien cultures.
We are introduced to several new characters – Ruby, a hybrid 12-year-old adopted by Julie, Nathan, a member of the Visitor Friends (now called Teammates) youth group who was befriended by a fifth columnist, Jon, a brilliant hybrid living on the mother ship and working as a janitor, and Ted, the troubled teenaged son of Willy (which is how Johnson consistently spells Willie’s name, and which drove me nuts) and Harmony (the caterer/waitress from the movie).
Old characters are back as well, Julie, Robert Maxwell (but not his daughters), Willy and Harmony (who didn’t die, because Johnson ignores the second movie), and Martin (again, not dead) the fifth columnist. Mike is presumed dead.
And then there are the Zedti, an alien race who got the transmission and came to help…sort of.
If the novel felt more like a padded film script, well, it’s no secret that Johnson, who was the creative mind behind not only V, but also The Bionic Woman (the original), The Incredible Hulk, and Alien Nation is a great television writer, but not a novelist.
Still, with politics preventing SciFi from working with Warner Brothers to produce a movie version of this story, the book is better than nothing, and was a fun read that kept me occupied for an evening.
Also, there are some great Easter eggs in the text, such as Willy giving Jon a copy of Tenctonese Biogeometrics (the Tenctonese are the aliens in Alien Nation.
Goes well with: 80’s pop hits and a peanut butter sandwich.