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V: The Second Generation – Review

by: Johnson, Kenneth

Publisher: TOR Book, Tom Doherty Associates, LLC, New York

Location: 175 Fifth Ave, NY

Copyright: 2008

Cover: Stephan Martiniere

Type: Paperback

reviewed by: Lynard Barnes 2/16/2009

 

Summary: Reptilian race of intelligent beings have taken over the earth and a dedicated resistance group attempts to overthrow them. Not to be confused with the brilliant 2006 movie, “V For Vendetta” or the equally brilliant May 1983 TV miniseries, “V”.

 

Okay, so this reviewer is not joining the chorus.

If you were a reasonably mature individual in 1983 when V was broadcast as a mini-series on NBC television, chances are you liked the story-the plot, the characters, the action. If you were a youngster watching the original series, you might have found the critter swallowing, Nazi storm-trooper aliens, fascinatingly alien and fascinatingly entertaining.

After 1983, there came a forgettable sequel to V and then the equally forgettable and forgotten V, the series.

In February 2008, the author of V let loose with V: The Second Generation as a novel.

Problem One: V: The Second Generation is written for another medium. You can get mental whiplash just ruminating about the previous “scene” you just read trying to connect it to the one you are currently reading. This, least it sound innovative or new, is in keeping with the genre of kaleidoscopic imaging characteristic of the age of disco and strobe lights. (Spend as less time as possible in the moment, otherwise, it could turn really, really ugly–as in a slice or reality).

Problem Two: The original V series was elevated to an exposition of historical significance by both the author and some reviewers by comparing the plot of aliens invading earth to the Nazis invading Europe in the 1940s. In watching the original series, this reviewer missed the connection. The Nazis were not alien. Not even close. They were a cultural continuum rooted in 19th century German culture. V, the original series, was science fiction: good science fiction at the time that went beyond the cow-boys and Indians shoot-’em ups of Star Wars and Battle Star Galactica.

Problem Three: The original V mini-series was a culmination of a number of societal and political ticks and twitches that would play themselves out with the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1989. No, the reptilian critters of V were not stand-ins for the communist masters of eastern Europe and Russia. But the apparatchiks of the 1980s Soviet Russia were only the tip of an enormous iceberg of “resistance” fighters like the then underground Solidarity movement of Poland. In the opposite stream of social awareness, Roswell, New Mexico and the question of alien visitation to earth started as a spark in 1979 and was to explode into an amusing national past time in the 1980s. Resistance fighters, visitors from outer-space–a perfect political, cultural cloud for the descent of V upon the national consciousness in the 1980s.

V: The Second Generation is cowboys and Indians after the Model-T has left a cloud of dust on the horizon and the guys in the white hats have mustered the adrenaline to take back the town from the bad guys. The story works. The story would–and probably will–work better in motion rather than confined to the monolithic edifice of the printed word. The book, unlike, say, Winston Groom’s Forrest Gump , is a made for motion script. However, even in motion, the story can not overcome a slight to moderate tailwind of absurdity. Nothing flies in this story-except twentieth century versions of souped-up motorcycles and scaled down fighter jets. Everything is crammed into an ending that is predictable and inevitable. It is inevitable because it is predictable. Key moments are revelations forced upon the main characters. The resistance fighters have been warring against the aliens for twenty years and suddenly, on a lurk from the author, they discover that the aliens are storing millions of humans in individual isolation pods on the mother ships and feeding them “commands” from a central messaging system.

The problem with V: The Second Generation is not the story or the implausible events depicted. Rather, the execution of relating the story is the problem. There is no focus–except that inevitable ending. All the pathos and bathos between ALIENS INVADE EARTH and ALIENS EXPELLED FROM EARTH is mere filler. The reader gets the feeling–a little self-centered pathos–that they are being manipulated. Julie, the original heroine resistance fighter is reduced to a mere prop. Mr. Donovan, the male counterpart of Julie, is even more of a prop and has been replaced by a younger, more impetuous non-conformist. The one bright spot in the story are the three Zedti characters. Though they are merely reluctant side-kicks of the guys and girls in the white hats, the Zedti are a NOVEL idea. As for the rest of the 445 page story-wait for the TV mini-series where all that filler stuff might be supplemented with some entertaining commercials.

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