The Meteor Men:
a story of The Invaders
Corgi, London, 1968
The blurb on the back:
At this very moment, advance patrols of hostile aliens from a doomed planet are circulating among us, investigating our environment, measuring us for conquest. Who are they? Where are they? Having the facility to assume human form, they go about virtually undetectable. They can be anyone, anywhere...
Aliens were here on Earth, of course, long before Muldur and Scully thought of taking The X-Files down off the shelf, and here's the evidence. The Invaders was an early creation of the great Larry Cohen, and it's the kind of thing that some remember with cultish fondness.
Not me, though. To my mind, these US TV series have always been structurally flawed, in the sense that they had no structure at all - they just repeat the same episode over and over again until the audience get bored. In fact, it's a fatal weakness at the heart of American popular culture, which is more geared to the production line than it is to the well of inspiration. A bit of self-restraint wouldn't go amiss. If, for example, The X-Files had run for just two or three series, it would have been majestic, rather than mundane; if Stephen King had focussed his talent into one novel every two or three years, instead of diffusing it in two or three a year, he would have been one of the great popular novelists; if A Nightmare on Elm Street had confined itself to just the one sequel ... well, you get the picture. (Yes we see.)
We had the same problem with magazine fiction in the 1840s, as anyone who's ever waded through James Rymer's Varney the Vampire will know to their cost.
Anyway, The Invaders was another one like The Fugitive or The Planet of the Apes, where there was no direction, no end in sight, no structure. I can't be doing with this - it's unnecessary. As (this surely goes without saying) is this book.
PS A regular correspondent, Ian Covell, to whom I'm much indebted, tells me that Anthony LeBaron was a pseudonym of Keith Laumer, a hugely prolific author. I haven't read any of his other work, but Mr Covell says they're good, so I'd advise you to search them out.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: 2/5
HIPNESS QUOTIENT: 3/5
God Told Me To