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Book #16: The X-Files: The Truth is Out There, Edited by Jonathan Maberry



Number of pages: 350

Compliation of short stories, based on the TV show, The X-Files, with a mixture of serious dramas and more humourous stories; I noticed also that the stories took place in different parts of the timeline, with some set in modern times, others set in the early 1990s, parallel with the older seasons of the show.

The stories are as follows:

Dead Ringer, by Kelly Armstrong: Seems at first like a simple alien abduction story, but soon becomes something more sinister; really creepy stuff.

Drive Time, by Jon McGoran: A hard-core sci-fi story involving time travel that felt mainly tongue in cheek, and where I tried not to look to hard into the logic behind the story's denouement. It felt a bit like the plot from an episode of Rick and Morty or Futurama, but it was fun anyway.

Black Hole Son, by Kami Garcia: Effectively, a story about how Mulder's sister was abducted, from Mulder's point of view; I found this one to be quite compelling, and moving.

We Should Listen to Some Shostakovich, by Hank Phillipi Ryan: Set in 2017, this one felt like a typical shipper fanfic that could be found on several internet sites. At the start, Mulder and Scully are said to be married, and the story was not overtly paranormal, but there was a lot of numerology stuff that I was fascinated by. This was a decent enough story, but it's something that's unlikely to happen on the show soon, if it gets renewed for an eleventh season and beyond, and the show's tenth season has somewhat rendered it non-canon by the appearance of a recurring character that got killed off.

Mummiya, by Greg Cox: A story involving mummification, which took some unexpected twists.

Phase Shift, by Bev Vincent: A family are trapped in a house that has been somehow temporally displaced using some sort of forcefield. The science was bizarre, and the ending contained some unexpected (and pitch-black) humour.

Heart, by Kendare Blake: This one opens with a man getting a heart transplant, and then starting to behave strangely - it didn't seem that original, and I wasn't surprised at where it ended up going, but the different storytellng style, told from the point of view of a character other than Mulder and Scully, was refreshing.

Male Privelage, by Hank Schwaeble: Another one that felt like it was straight off the internet, this one felt unusually wacky as it veered into hardcore fantasy territory, involving curses and dragons. This was the only one I was nonplussed by, as the introduction of some sort of ancient ritual involving local boys and a dragon just felt too silly, and it didn't feel like an X-Files plot at all, but something off another show, like Doctor Who.

Pilot, by David Liss: A quirky, and mostly humourous story that reminded me of one of the stranger fanfictions I wrote when I was younger. This eventually involves Mulder and Scully discovering that in a parallel universe they are fictional characters on a TV show. It was a little strange, but I enjoyed the whole concept of Mulder and Scully watching episodes of their life being played out and warned not to "watch ahead". I wondered what I would do if that ever happened to me.

Rosetta, by David Sakmyster: A claustrophic story involving an isolated location, and lots of apparent mind games. It was a bit hard to explain what this one was really about, particularly with all the technical language, but the atmosphere was satisfyingly creepy. It seemed to be based on the same canon as Joe Harris' comic strips, as it featured characters that so far, only these have resurrected after their deaths in the show's ninth season.

Snowman, by Sarah Stegall: A story that possibly some of the fanboys and fangirls will not like, as it pairs Mulder with John Doggett from the show's eighth and ninth seasons while they search for the sasquatch. It had a similar feel to HP Lovecraft's "Into the Mountains of Madness", but had a couple of neat twists towards the end.

Voice of Experience, by Rachel Caine: An old flame of Mulder's apparently commits suicide; it doesn't feel supernatural at first, but leads to an X-Files case nothing like any on the show. I was interested that it featured Mulder and Scully meeting Assistant Director Skinner, although it was dated prior to his first appearance on the show.

XXX, by Glenn Greenberg: An oddly flippant take on "Scanners" that opens with a porn actor's head exploding, to which his co-stars remark, "Not again". It was slightly predictable, but did provide some good red herrings involving alien viruses.

Foundling, by Tim Waggoner: Opens with a harrowing scene involving a mother shooting her baby, the story then involves Mulder and Scully finding a baby abandoned in a mysterious, seemingly deserted, town, and having to look after it. My guess was that the writer wanted to imagine Mulder and Scully as parents.

When the Cows Come Home, by David Farland: Short story involving a rancher being attacked by cattle and crop circles. It seemed to take place during the time when Mulder was on an alien spaceship himself, but involves him and Scully anyway. A decent final story, and went in a direction I did not expect.

Overall then, with one exception, a good selection of stories that I'd recommend trying to any fan of The X-Files.

Next book: One Forever (Rory Shiner)
Tags: dragons, fantasy, horror, sci-fi, short stories, television
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