X-Files Archives Volume 1: Whirlwind and Ruins is a compilation of two previously released, stand-alone novels by prominent science fiction writers. IDW Publishing released this volume this week, and it is available now. Whirlwind is a novel by the late Charles Grant from 1995, while Ruins was written by Kevin J. Anderson and released in 1997. Much of the X-Files media we’ve seen in recent years has been delivered in comic book form, so I’m grateful for a novelized release in anticipation of the new miniseries. (Even a re-release is a welcome change. I didn’t have the opportunity to dig into all of the novels released to accompany the show at the time of their initial release.) This volume offers the same excellent storytelling we have come to expect from the television franchise.
Whirlwind by Charles Grant is the first novel in the archive volume, and it is apparent from the first page that Grant was an amazing writer. This book was initially released by HarperCollins in 1995 when the first X-Files film was yet to be released. The story centers around a serial killer with no real pattern. The murders take place in Albuquerque, but the murderer has taken victims of both sexes, all races, ages, and ethnic groups. The only thing that links the victims and leads the FBI to direct Mulder and Scully to the case is the fact that the victims were all impacted by one of the most unnatural natural disasters imaginable.
Grant wrote as if the reader had never seen an episode of the hit television program and he was introducing the characters for the first time. Due to this approach, this novel set is a perfect way to introduce new fans to the series. (This approach is also helpful for those who don’t have time to binge watch all 9 seasons before the miniseries launch in January but need a refresher on what to expect from the series.) Grant’s representation of each character and of the X-Files universe is flawless. Mulder, Scully and Skinner all seem to spill off the page in perfect detail. From beginning to end, the book reads like an episode straight out of your Netflix queue.
The novel begins innocently enough, with random individuals going on about daily tasks with no real mention of the bizarre or supernatural. Grant hints at things being slightly amiss, but the characters have no reason to believe that anything is wrong. But every fan knows this type of thinking and optimistic scene setting will end in horrific tragedy or someone finding a corpse. When the book cuts to Mulder’s office in the basement of the J. Edgar Hoover building, readers who are long time fans of the series will feel at home. The rest of the novel does not disappoint, and is a must read for fans and newcomers to the franchise alike!Ruins by Kevin J. Anderson is another relic from the X-Files archives, making it an appropriate addition to this volume. In this tale, an American archaeologist disappears while exploring a lost Mayan city. Mulder and Scully are sent to the jungle to investigate. The discovery of a mysterious jade artifact recovered from the lost city’s ruins as well as ominous legends being peddled by natives in the area lead Mulder to expect ancient curses and reptilian monsters. This tale becomes even more complicated because the city of Xitaclan, where the archaeologist went missing, is the scene of an impending war between Central American drug lords, international Mayan artifact smugglers, and a U.S. commando team that has been sent to investigate an electronic signal that is coming from beneath the ruins. When the novel was released in 1997 it was toted as being “the most ambitious and exciting X-Files novel to date”.
Although Anderson’s approach is very different from Grant’s, this novel made a spectacular accompaniment because it introduces readers to the complex, overlapping storytelling that the X-Files series is famous for. (It can also serve as a reminder for those who are already familiar with the work of Mulder and Scully.)
Whirlwind is the stand out highlight of this compilation, but I can’t deny that Ruins provides a necessary foil. Although the latter novel doesn’t feature the strong characterization that made Whirlwind exceptional, together these novels make a volume that should not be missed by any serious X-Files fan.
WICKED RATING: [usr 6.5]