Friday, May 15, 2009

Sympathy for the Devil

(Picture from here.)

I've just read a small excerpt by the criminally underrated hard-SF writer Peter Watts and I am simply in awe of him. In his post, Watts takes one of my favorite SF movies, the John Carpenter-helmed The Thing (based on the short story "Who Goes There" by John W. Campbell), and tries to give us the side of the alien creature. See the excerpt below:

Evolution simply can’t happen here— or if it does, it can only happen at the level of the entire offshoot. But how could anything keep up with a changing environment in such microscopic increments? The tiniest adaptation would take aeons.


And yet. If my own senses haven’t betrayed me completely, these somatic iterations— Clarke, MacReady, Garry— they’re not offshoots at all. They’re individuals, locked within themselves. Not a single great world but many small ones. Not parts of a larger thing; these are things.

They are plural.

Fantastic reading and Watts adds intention, context and biology to the alien. It's a fascinating look at how a strange being like The Thing could think if it could think like us.

Obviously, writers giving voice to the monsters of our imagination is nothing new. John Gardner did the same to Grendel, the black nemesis of Beowulf. Fred Saberhagen did likewise for Dracula. But it doesn't matter: Watts still rocks for possibly giving one of the great alien movie monsters a human soul.

Now if only someone did something similar with the black-carapace, acid-blooded Alien (though obviously they're hive-minded).

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