V THE SECOND GENERATION BY KENNETH JOHNSON

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tarzan

Copyright 2008.

It is twenty years since the Visitors have taken over the Earth. In some things human society has benefited with new medical breakthroughs and advanced technology. But there is more disconcerting stuff that is also happening. Half the world’s oceans have been drained away ostensibly to be cleaned up and later returned. People are still being taken away for reorientation and never heard from again. Juliet Parish still leads the resistance with a new generation that has never known a world without the Visitors.

The resistance has had no luck in inspiring a general uprising. Now they are contacted by the Zedti. An humanoid insectoid race with flying motorcycles that has answered their distress call that was sent at the end of the first mini-series. The new aliens hold out the first real hope for the resistance to liberate the planet but can the Zedti be trusted. They have an agenda of their own that might not be in the Earth’s best interests.

Kenneth Johnson is creator of V and wrote, directed and produced the first mini-series. The network decided to go a different direction and was never part of the subsequent mini-series or TV series. Since he still has the movie rights he has written a sequel to the mini-series set twenty years later. Having no luck with selling the movie he decided to make it into a book.

When I first hear of a new book I was quite excited. I bought it and took a Saturday off to sit back and read it just like I did with V books when I was a teenager. On the whole I enjoyed to story. Reading it a second time I have a greater appreciation for this book. I liked the setting of an alternate world that has been under the Visitor occupation. It gets back to the original concept of a society under Fascist rule. The reactions of the various people. Some become players as the collaborators are called for the privilege that it brings them. Some join the resistance and risk their lives. The majority just keep their heads down and hope it all blows over.

I also liked that we finally get introduced to the alien race that were the Visitor’s enemy. It was alluded to in the first mini-series but never addressed afterwards. We also get to meet the Visitor’s leader and find out their true plans for the human race which isn’t pretty. And I liked how we see the Visitors use of propaganda and the formation of the Teammates a human militia to fight the resistance and eventually the Zedti. I remember working at Target and they called use teammates. Made it sound like we were working with our fellow employees on some great endeavor when in fact you’re working with assholes at a dead end job you can barely stand.

There were some things I didn’t care for. Flying motorcycles!! God I had a flashback to Galactica 1980. How cheezy ’80s can you get. Also the concept of the Dregs the human-Visitor hybrids. They are considered an untouchable cast and relegated to menial jobs like janitor and garbage collection. I don’t see how such two distinct species could be able to produce such hybrids. Its not scientifically possible. They just seemed a heavy handed way to illustrate that prejudice is bad.

Well I hope that he succeeds with the movie but I wouldn’t hold my breath. An interesting read and I recommend if you are a fan of the series. I leave with examples of flying motorcycles. Oh yeah they could turn invisible in the book.

And don’t forget that classic movie Megaforce.

Yup. Flying motorcycles.

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V SYMPHONY OF TERROR BY SOMTOW SUCHARITKUL

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tarzan

Copyright 1988.

The story picks up one year after the Alien Swordmaster. The Visitors have reoccupied the warmer parts of the Earth were the red dust is not effective. Los Angeles is in chaos following Nathan Bates assassination and the Jones family decides to head out for somewhere safer. With the help of the resistance they get a captured Visitor vehicle and uniforms to make the dangerous trek to Washington D.C. a city in the free states.

The three are chased after by Medea from Tim Sullivan’s stories. She is now a disgraced garrison commander after the failed Florida Project. She sees an opportunity to regain her position. The Jones’s safely make it to Washington but a new terror awaits them. Dingwall a Visitor undercover as a junior high music teacher has a new plan to conquer the free states. Using a new metal called Papinium they are tunneling to a new shopping center build from the metal. Thankfully the Jones’s are joined by Kenzo Sugihara the alien swordmaster in a battle to stop the invasion.

The second and final book written by Somtow and there’s a whole lot of Zen going on. It has a lot of the same elements that make his last V book such a mess. A new shield against the red dust that makes no sense whatsoever. I mean this metal apparently must magically repeal the red dust contaminated air because the tunnels and shopping mall seem to not be very airtight with open entrances to let in air. Also he seems obsessed with the Visitors and their constant need to eat people. Medea has grown fat with eating people’s hands. Children are kept to chop off arms and legs. A machine in the tunnels takes slaves that died and turns them into people mcnuggets.

Oh and my favorite is one chapter has them roasting a guy on a spit. He makes the same mistake as his buddy Tim Sullivan who he’s lifted a character from and references other elements from this books. The Visitors only eat live or freshly killed food. Mistakes like this do bug me and show that like Tim Sullivan he is not very familiar with the V series. This book had an interesting story but the gruesome eating, the way everyone seems to meekly accept their fate and the general gloomy tone make it one of my lesser favorite in the series.

So this was the last in the Pinnacle/Tor series from the ’80s. The five books released by Tor two years later apparently didn’t result in a renewed interest in the series. There were no more new books released. J. Michael Straczynski the creator of Babylon 5 did write a pilot for a revival for the series. Obviously it was never picked up but he did indicate that he would like to make in into a book. You can read the first three scenes here. Since its been twenty years I am not optimistic of this project ever happening.

My final thoughts are that the book series quality was from excellent to not very good. Still I think the majority of the books were well written. Even the bad books I have a nostalgic fondness for. I really enjoyed the concept of the V series and the books were my favorite. I would always anxiously await for the new book to come out. They explored other parts of the world that the TV series never did and I always found them enjoyable. Its brought back some fond memories rereading these books.

Well before a write the epitaph to this series there was an unexpected entry twenty years later. And no it had nothing to do with the rebooted series. Stay tuned for next weekend for my final review of the V books.

V BELOW THE THRESHOLD BY ALLEN WOLD

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tarzan

Copyright 1988.

Dr. Jack Page is a psychologist living in Freeport a city in the south that through some political arrangement has maintained its independence from the Visitors. One night he gets a call from a patient named Emily Velasquez. Emily suffers from paranoid delusions and seems quite upset. Jack has also fallen in love with his patient so decides to meet her at a restaurant. When she doesn’t show he goes to her apartment and finds a strange man in her apartment. As he investigates further he uncovers a conspiracy that involves the Visitors, the local mob boss, a prominent businessman, and corrupt cops and city officials. He eventually gets involved with the resistance and uncovers a plot to use subliminal broadcasts to lull the citizens of Freeport into accepting a Visitor takeover.

So why is it that any story with a psychologist as the protagonist always has that person falling in love with their patient. Is it common in real life? Well in an interesting twist the patient doesn’t have the same feelings so his love goes unrequited.

This is the third book by Allen Wold in the series and probably one of the best. Its actually a mystery story. The story keeps you interested in finding out the mystery. Jack Page is drawn into a world of corruption and intrigue. He gets involved with a cast of mysterious characters including Visitors, fifth columnists, corrupt officials, and the resistance. He doesn’t know who to trust.

The story also illustrates the two extremes. Freeport is a city that is free but plagued with crime and corruption. The Visitor occupied city across the bay named Northampton is crime free but the people live in a virtual police state. It brings up the question of security versus freedom and what the balance should be. Something still relevant now days and also never really answered satisfactorily.

This was one of the more excellent stories and these were the ones that I enjoyed the most.

V THE OREGON INVASION BY JAYNE TANNEHILL

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tarzan

Copyright 1987.

Hadad is a Visitor cryogenic technician that was stranded on Earth after the red dust was released. Abandoned he makes his way away from Los Angeles and ends up in the small town of Prineville in central Oregon. A place that seems unaffected by the red dust. There he takes up residence in a cave outside town and takes a job at the local saw mill. The people accept him as a foreign immigrant and he settles into a peaceful life.

Then one day a Visitor Mother Ship comes to Central Oregon. The expedition is there to test a new anti-toxin that the Visitors have developed for the red dust. In the expedition is an old friend of Hadad’s that is now his enemy. Hadad is a priest of Zon and is now considered a traitor. Together with a human named Ruth Hogan a free spirited artist the two must escape as the Visitors conquer the towns in central Oregon.

After the horrible To Conquer the Throne this was a welcome change of pace. Jayne Tannehill has a beautiful writing style. The story is somewhat slow paced but that is made up with an interesting story and likeable characters of Hadad and Ruth. The story does at the end get a little weird with the religious mysticism and the story seemed to end abruptly. Possibly there was a planned sequel. Unfortunately this would be Jayne’s first and only contribution to the series. Which is too bad since I would have liked to read about how Hadad and Ruth’s quest would have turned out.

V TO CONQUER THE THRONE BY TIM SULLIVAN

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tarzan

Copyright 1987.

Gabriella Nicks is an American student in London. One night her fiancé Nigel Smythe-Walmsley comes to her fleeing the Visitors. Nigel a son of a notorious collaborator in the House of Lords is the leader of the British resistance. He has been betrayed by a member in the resistance hierarchy. Now Gabriella finds herself on the run pursued by the Visitors and traitors in the British resistance. She eventually hooks up with the IRA, the only effective resistance group against the Visitor occupation and its Vichy type government in the British Isles.

She becomes a symbol of resistance and a major thorn in Medea the Visitor commander to subvert her devious plan to break the will of the British people. It involves having Kaspar the deceased Visitor European commander’s body being interred in Westminster Abbey. Apparently this is a diabolical plan that would break the people’s spirit. But thankfully Gabriella and the IRA come to the rescue with stolen skyfighters and take over the London Mother Ship.

Well if Path to Conquest was the best then this was the worst book in the series. Where to begin? The hokey melodramatic dialogue. Example “Silence,” the Visitor captain hissed. “Another word out of you and we’ll kill you and eat you right here in the street.” Or the dull characters and shoddy plot. It seems just sort of thrown together in a quick haphazard way. The IRA produces seven captured skyfighters at the end with no explanation. They conveniently use them to assault and capture the Mother Ship with ease.

Oh and lets not forget the scene were Medea decides to have the resistance traitor for dinner literally. He is cooked in a wine sauce and served with an apple in his mouth. While gruesome it is totally inaccurate. It was established that Visitors being reptiles must eat there food alive or freshly killed and raw. Obviously Sullivan is not real familiar with the TV series and it shows in his writing.

This is a bad book. A bold statement but I stand by it. The third and final book written by Tim Sullivan. He was my least favorite writer in the series and he ended his contribution with this turkey. A real let down after such a great start to the revival of this series. Thankfully the next book was a lot better.

V PATH TO CONQUEST BY HOWARD WEINSTEIN

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tarzan

Copyright 1987.

Diana the supreme commander of the invading Visitors has come up with a plan to bring humanity to its knees. Oil is a crucial resource in the human war effort. The free cities in the north require a steady stream to fuel its industry. Diana has come up with a two prong attack. Project Icewind will alter the weather bringing a crushing cold that will eat up fuel reserves. The second is a plan to contaminate the world’s oil with a bacteria that makes it toxic.

Pete Forsythe and Lauren Steward the leaders of the New York resistance embark on a dangerous mission to stop Diana’s plan. From dogfights over the north Atlantic protecting oil tanker convoys to Los Angeles to the Persian Gulf. Our heroes race the clock and must rely on a known traitor to stop the world’s oil supply from being destroyed.

At the end of the Texas Run the next book was announced coming soon. Well the TV series was cancelled and Path to Conquest never materialized so I assumed it was cancelled. In reality Pinnacle went bankrupt and left five completed books in the series in limbo. Two years later I came across this book sitting in the book rack at the local grocery story. Tor books had acquired the rights and decided to release these unpublished books.

Excitedly I snatched up the book. This has got to be the best book ever written for the series. Weinstein brings back the characters from East Coast Crisis in a new adventure. We get a glimpse into the big picture of the Visitor invasion. The government has been relocated to New York. The Middle East has been mostly overrun except for Israel which is able to hold on to its little slice of territory. They have allied with the Arabs and with remnants of Saudi and Egyptian forces hold the eastern Saudi oil fields.

This book had a real epic feel to it. Aircraft carries escort oil convoys from Britain. Air raids on New York. Battles in the Middle East. Weinstein was always my favorite author in this series and his third and final book does not disappoint. I was glad that Tor decided to publish this and not let it fade away.

V THE TEXAS RUN BY GEO. W. PROCTOR

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tarzan

Copyright 1985.

Rick Hurley is a member of the Los Angeles resistance. On an mission at John Wayne airport his group is ambushed in a surprise Visitor trap. Barely escaping he finds refugee in a airplane and passes out. When he wake he finds himself on a cargo plane with stolen medical supplies bound for Dallas-Fort Worth. Sheryl Lee Darcy is a member of the resistance in Texas and is delivering the desperately needed supplies. The Visitors campaign in Texas is quite brutal. They have blasted the cities into rubble and round up the survivors for processing into the food storage pods on the Mother Ship.

On the way the plane is shot down by a Visitor fighter. The two resistance members are saved by an old P-51 mustang that shows up and manages to shoot it down. The plane is piloted by Charlie Scoggins a Korean war vet who now hunts down solidary Visitor fighters with his restored WWII vintage aircraft. He is able to organized the various ranchers in the area to recover the medical supplies and transport them to the Dallas-Ft. Worth city. At the same time the Visitor commander Garth is hunting for Sheryl Lee. Her mother had shot off his hand and he has a diabolical plan for vengeance against Sheryl Lee.

This is the second and final book written by Proctor. While not as good as his first book it is still a fun fast paced story he has written. He depicts a savage brutal total war going on in Texas. Cities are razed and whole populations are rounded up for processing. Its an interesting interpretation for the series and I would have liked to have seen more from this author. But is was not meant to be.