V (science fiction)

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V is a science fiction franchise created by American writer, producer and director Kenneth Johnson about an invading alien race known as the "Visitors" – reptilian humanoids disguised as human beings – trying to take over Earth, and the human reaction to this, including Resistance group attempting to stop them, while others collaborate with the aliens for power and personal wealth.

It debuted in 1983 as the two-part television miniseries V, written and directed by Johnson. It was followed in 1984 by a three-part miniseries, V: The Final Battle, and a nineteen-episode weekly television series, V (sometimes referred to as V: The Series) during the 1984-85 television season. ABC ran a remake known as V: The 2009 TV series which ran for two seasons for a total of 22 episodes between 2009 and 2011.

A number of novels, comic books, video games and other media have been spun off from the franchise. Johnson's novel V: The Second Generation, an alternative sequel to the first miniseries which disregards V: The Final Battle and V: The Series, (because of his non involvement with them) was released on February 5, 2008.[1] Johnson claimed he was in negotiations for a TV adaptation of his sequel novel, but in October 2008, Warner Bros. Television announced they were producing a complete remake of V instead. This new V series ran for two truncated seasons on ABC, from November 3, 2009 to March 15, 2011.

In the original series the title refers to the "V for Victory" sign; in the 1983 miniseries, a group of children are shown spray painting generic graffiti over the Visitors' propaganda posters, but are then shown how to spray the V over the posters by Abraham Bernstein, a Holocaust survivor, who explains the meaning of the sign to them as he defaces the first poster. In the 2009 reboot of the series, however, V is used within the show as an abbreviation for the Visitors.[2][3][4]

Television[edit]

The original miniseries debuted in the United States on NBC on May 1, 1983. Series creator Kenneth Johnson has said that the story was inspired by the 1935 novel It Can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis. Also, several scenes from the original TV pilot resemble the Bertolt Brecht play The Private Life of the Master Race. Damon Knight's short story "To Serve Man" (previously adapted into an episode of The Twilight Zone) had a similar theme of deceptively friendly aliens secretly cultivating humans for food.

In a commentary track on the DVD release of the first miniseries, Johnson reveals that V was originally intended as a straightforward political thriller, charting the rise of a fascist movement in the United States. NBC was interested in a sci-fi hit, to capitalize on the success of films such as the Star Wars trilogy.

The story remains a Nazi allegory, including the Swastika-like emblem used by the Visitors and their SS-like uniforms. There is a Visitor youth auxiliary with obvious similarities to the Hitler Youth and Visitor broadcasts mimic Nazi-era propaganda. The show's portrayal of human interaction with the Visitors bears a striking resemblance to stories from Occupied Europe during the Second World War with some citizens choosing collaboration and others choosing to join underground resistance movements.

Where the Nazis primarily persecuted Jews, the Visitors were likewise depicted to persecute scientists, their families and anyone associating with them and distribute propaganda in an effort to hide their true identity. Some of the central characters in the initial series were from a Jewish family and the grandfather, a Holocaust survivor, frequently commented on the events of the past again unfolding. The Visitors declared martial law to control the scientists. Later, throughout the TV series, the Resistance Network's TV news bulletins report stories of erstwhile enemies uniting in common cause against the alien occupiers, such as black and white South Africans (the series was produced when South Africa was still under apartheid), and Israelis and Palestinians. In addition, direct figure analogies are used, such as the senior Visitor scientist, Diana, who is a direct analogue of Dr. Josef Mengele.

The miniseries was successful enough to spawn a sequel, V: The Final Battle, which was meant to conclude the story, and also a television series in 1984-1985 that continued it. Johnson left the franchise during production of The Final Battle.

The cancellation of the TV series in the spring of 1985 appeared to have caught its producers by surprise,[citation needed] as the season ends with a cliffhanger. The TV series' single season was released on Region 1 DVD in 2004.

Novels[edit]

V spun off a series of original novels, five were originally planned but the range soon extended beyond these. The first was a novelization of the first two miniseries combined into one story, originally planned as 2 books, Pinnacle later changed their minds during its writing, and decreed that it should be one book (The publishers were then left with the option of another book,this became "East coast crisis" ) Because the Writers guide was not ready in time for the authors to consult, most of the original novels that followed did not feature characters or continuing storylines from the TV series, but rather focused on battles against the alien invaders in other parts of the world, some were also set during the "unrecorded year" between the end of "The Final battle" and "Liberation day" to get around this problem.

While the series was on the air, new novels were published once a month by Pinnacle Paperbacks, and in the U.K. every 2 months by New English Library. In 1987-88, The remaining 5 books, left unpublished with the demise of Pinnacle books, were published by Tor. No U.K. publisher was found for these.

Num.   Title Author Published ISBN
1 "V" A.C. Crispin May 1984 0-523-42237-7
An adaptation of the original miniseries, as well as The Final Battle. There are some differences between the novel and the televised miniseries,due to the author working from a different script to the televised version,and not being made aware of changes made to said script, including the deaths of several characters who are still alive in the televised version. This includes Chris Farber, leading to confusion about his return in V: The Series, also different in this novelisation is the manner in which Elizabeth a.k.a The Starchild, deals with the doomsday weapon.
2 "East Coast Crisis" Howard Weinstein September 1984 0-523-42259-8
Concurrent with the first novel, but set in New York and Washington D.C., the book begins in space while the fleet approaches the Earth, ( the ending of the novel briefly goes into the aftermath of The Final Battle). The commander, Roger, and his subordinates, Angela and Jennifer, arrive and after the Visitors are revealed, the resistance group named White Christmas is formed to combat them. They now have to face Roger's devious plan: to surpass the human food storage by emptying one of New York's neighborhoods next to their chemical plants.
3 "The Pursuit of Diana" Allen L. Wold December 1984 0-523-42401-9
While Donovan pursues and recaptures Diana, the LA resistance tries to revive those stored on the mothership after capturing it in the events of the first book. However they are faced with the converted government, and several of the "sixth column", surviving Visitors on board the mothership who are still loyal to Diana, who is imprisoned on board after her capture.
4 "The Chicago Conversion" George W. Proctor January 1985 0-523-42429-9
In Chicago, the Visitors' grip on the Earth has been freed with the release of the Red Dust,the bacteria discovered in the digestive tract of Robin Maxwell's hybrid children,which killed the more reptilian twin.Cultured and dried,and dispersed via hot air balloons across the world by the resistance,it causes near-instant death to Visitors, but can also cause mutation, sterility and ultimately, death, to all Earth life in excessive amounts. Prior to this event, High Captain Gerald manages to finally storm the resistance, but with little success, as they were currently liberating the Chicago Art Museum, the Visitors' ground base. Seconds before the commander of the Chicago Mothership, Alicia, calls him back for withdrawal (after the Red Dust is deployed worldwide), he is able to distribute anti-toxin from the resistance base into his shock troopers. Though Alicia is frustrated at her subordinate, she gives him a chance to redeem himself, which Gerald jumps at, as unknowingly to Alicia, Gerald is a double agent. Her plan is to convert the resistance, and "unlock the key" to regaining Chicago.
5 "The Florida Project" Tim Sullivan February 1985 0-523-42430-2
Set during the unrecorded year between the end of "The Final battle" and "Liberation day", The Visitors, hidden in the everglade swamps, by hologram projection, kidnap human scientists to unwittingly aid them in their plan to create a human-reptilian hybrid to wipe out the resistance. Note: This novel was written before the writers guide was available, and so contradicts the TV series in some points.
6 "Prisoners and Pawns" Howard Weinstein March 1985 0-523-42439-6
The first novel to be actually set during the weekly series, Lydia and Diana try to wrestle power from each other while trying to get the resistance out of the way. The resistance find that there might be collaborators in their group.
7 "The Alien Swordmaster" Somtow Sucharitkul April 1985 0-523-42441-8
Another book taking place during the unrecorded year, Tomoko Jones is revived to become the consort of the fearsome Fieh Chan, Visitor Commander of Tokyo. Meanwhile, her husband finds a plot to capture the Earth's martial arts masters for conversion.
8 "The Crivit Experiment" Allen L. Wold May 1985 0-523-42466-3
A Visitor experiment in breeding, if successful, will ravage the Eastern Coast Seaboards (causing serious environmental consequences). The experiment is based on the crivit species, which exists in the Visitor's home planet.[5]
9 "The New England Resistance" Tim Sullivan June 1985 0-523-42467-1
A human scientist tries to test a toxin that he developed, and that could help decimate the Visitors.Tipped off by a human collaborator, the Visitors arrive in New England, desperate to destroy this new threat to their renewed invasion of Earth. The local Resistance is then picked off, and a new group of resistance fighters ends up being formed.[6]
10 "Death Tide" A.C. Crispin July 1985 0-523-42469-8
The Resistance works on a new version of the red dust that lives in seaweed and thus protects the planet's water, while also trying to coax a strain to live in land-based vegetation; Diana works on a defoliant that will destroy the seaweed. Marjorie Donovan returns.
11 "The Texas Run" George W. Proctor September 1985 0-523-42470-1
The Texas resistance has been weakened by Commander Garth and his batch of Shocktroopers. Set after the TV episode "Visitors choice".
12 "Path to Conquest" Howard Weinstein September 1987 0-8125-5725-5
The resistance of the East Coast, and the free zone, are in danger, if Project Icewind,part one of a new two pronged scheme by Diana to first radically alter the earths weather, and then contaminate our oil reserves with a new bacteria, rendering it both useless as a fuel and dangerous to humans too, is put into action.[7]
13 "To Conquer the Throne" Tim Sullivan November 1987 0-8125-5727-1
Great Britain is to become the Visitor's conquest and the launching pad for them to conquer the entire Earth.[8]
14 "The Oregon Invasion" Jayne Tannehill January 1988 0-8125-5729-8
The Visitors initiate a fourth invasion in Oregon.
15 "Below the Threshold" Allen L. Wold March 1988 0-8125-5732-8
Lewis is a Natural, a Visitor who wants to live in peace with the humans in Freeport, a city without red dust. But humans in Freeport are in danger of being controlled by the Visitors, through a local TV station.[9]
16 "Symphony of Terror" Somtow Sucharitkul May 1988 0-8125-5482-5
The Jones family (from previous novel The Alien Swordmaster) enlisted by Juliet Parrish,goes to Washington DC, to uncover the plans of a Visitor spy who has a new visitor created metal alloy, Papinium, which is impervious to the Red dust, which he is using to coat secret tunnels into the free zone with, thus freeing up those areas to renewed visitor invasion.[10]

The Second Generation[edit]

See V: The Second Generation for more detail.

Kenneth Johnson—V's original creator—had been trying to bring the series back to television as a sequel to the original miniseries that would ignore the second miniseries and all the other subsequent fiction. When Warner Bros. decided to go with a complete reboot instead, Johnson wrote his story as a new novel.

Num.   Title Author Published ISBN
1 "V: The Original Miniseries" Kenneth Johnson and A.C. Crispin November 2008 0-7653-2199-8
Crispin's adaptation of the original miniseries without any of the chapters that originally covered The Final Battle. In their place is a short work by Johnson linking this new version of the book to The Second Generation.
2 "V: The Second Generation" Kenneth Johnson February 2008 0-7653-1907-1
Twenty years after the original miniseries, the Visitors are in de facto control of Earth, and life across the planet is analogous to living under the Nazis in occupied Paris. In response to the message sent at the end of the original miniseries, the Resistance—which has been slowly losing ground for years, especially after Diana's "Great Purge", is contacted by another alien race, the insect-like Zedti. However, their actions trigger suspicions among the human fighters. The novel ends on a note of uncertainty, with the fate of the world seemingly in the hands of The Zedti.

Other spin-offs[edit]

DC Comics published an 18-issue V comic book series from February 1985 – July 1986, with stories set to be concurrent with the events of V: The Series. The editor of the comic reported at one point in the letter (fan mail) column that DC was working to acquire permission to continue the storyline of the television series should it not be renewed for a second season. In the end, either such permission was denied or DC decided not to pursue the matter further. The cover of the 18th issue did state "Final Issue", but actually featured (with issue 17) a flashback story featuring Elias Taylor. (Issue 16 led into the opening scene of the final television episode).

In Japan, Go Nagai wrote a manga adaptation of the series with art by Tatsuya Yasuda.[11]

In 1986 Ocean Software released a video game based on the series for Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum: V (video game).[12]

A number of factual books, covering all aspects of the saga,including interviews,articles and episode guides have been published, most notably the 6 volumes of "The V files", written By James van Hise and Ed Gross, published by New Media Books/Psi Fi movie Press in the mid 1980s, and the two French books, "V:l'autre guerre des mondes" (V:The other war of the worlds) by Francis valery,first published in paperback in 1993 by DLM editions, (and reissued in 1995),covering the entire original saga up to and including, the unfilmed episode #20 "The Attack", and "V:les miroirs du passe", by Didier liardet, published by Yris Editions in 2011, this paperback features a full episode guide to both the 1980s original and the modern reboot, details the history of the show, and also includes photos of merchandise from the series over the years.

Also of note is John L. Flynn's "Future threads:costume design for the science fiction world", published in 1985 by New Media books, which has instructions and patterns for creating several different Visitor costumes, amongst others.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "V History". Kennethjohnson.us. Retrieved 2009-11-05. 
  2. ^ ""V" IS FOR VICTORY, NOT FOR VISITORS!". visitorsamongus.com. Retrieved 2011-01-22. 
  3. ^ "V is for Visitors — and Victory". Retrieved 2011-01-22. 
  4. ^ "Lost’s Elizabeth Mitchell Fights Aliens in V Reboot". Wired.com. 2009-08-11. Retrieved 2011-01-22. "'Propaganda has just become advertising' in modern society, [2009 series producer Jeffrey] Bell said. 'Everything is branded, everything is turned into a product, so the Visitors are going to do that. The Vs [The Visitors] are going to brand themselves.'"  (Emphasis added)
  5. ^ "V: The Crivit Experiment (V 8) by Allen L. Wold". Shelfari.com. Retrieved 2013-08-17. 
  6. ^ "V: The New England Resistance (V 9) by Tim Sullivan". Shelfari.com. Retrieved 2013-08-17. 
  7. ^ "V: Path to Conquest (V 12) by Howard Weinstein". Shelfari.com. Retrieved 2013-08-17. 
  8. ^ "V: To Conquer the Throne (V 13) by Tim Sullivan". Shelfari.com. Retrieved 2013-08-17. 
  9. ^ "V: Below the Threshold (V 15) by Allen L. Wold". Shelfari.com. Retrieved 2013-08-17. 
  10. ^ "V: Symphony of Terror (V 16) by Somtow Sucharitkul". Shelfari.com. Retrieved 2013-08-17. 
  11. ^ "Page on the manga version with covers of the two books (Japanese)". K3.dion.ne.jp. Retrieved 2009-11-05. 
  12. ^ "V". World of Spectrum. Retrieved 2009-11-05. 

External links[edit]