The Mutants — Kris Neville (1966)


Publisher: Belmont Books

First Belmont edition, 1966

Cover Art: Uncredited (comment if you know)

Plot Synopsis (of cover): Bad news for conspiracy theorists—you’ve got it all wrong. The Illuminati exist only in the fever-dreams of the paranoid lower classes. Area 51 is a relatively impotent desert military outpost. The Royal Family have little to no reptile in them. No, what you should fear is far more insidious, for, you see, the alien menace has engineered our lives for centuries. With their frighteningly accurate knowledge of human psychology and a guiding hand in minor (but important) aspects of bureaucracy, the extraterrestrial stranglehold on how we live our lives, the decisions we make, and the people we interact with is absolute. Using cunningly planted agents, supernaturally adept at social engineering, they have placed us in the environments least conducive to rebellion. We have been maneuvered into our neighborhoods, our homes, our cities and towns, designed and directed that they should dull our senses to the threat of extraterrestrial global dominion. These agents, cloned from genes that make them appear to those they subjugate as better, happier versions of themselves, are among us. Their name, though it has a different meaning to us, retains its significance when taken in its true context, identifying them as representatives of the actual governing authority. They are the Agents of the Real Estate.

Relatively Irrelevant Inside Text: This book is strange. Not because of the story, which, you know, is strange by virtue of its genre, but it’s strange for being what it is, where it is, and when it is. When I think of science fiction, California, and the mid-60s, the thoughts I have tend to lean very much away from the Establishment. However, much of this novel, which focuses largely on repelling an inevitable alien invasion, takes place getting the Establishment to help solve the problem. Granted, the military is portrayed as (and is inevitably) impotent, but the FBI and the US Government are integral in the solution-seeking, which is definitely unusual for 1966 sci fi. I don’t want to ruin anything, but the method used in the (successful or unsuccessful—not tellin’) attempt to destroy the alien space station hiding behind the moon is the most brilliantly confused metaphor ever. As for the quality of the content, it’s pretty quality content, though occasionally strangely worded. Remember that really dumb ScarJo movie Lucy? Similar vibe, but sans the brain damage one requires to enjoy it.

Rating: 9.3 High-Velocity Marble Erections

Questions for Critical Cover-Viewing:

  • Why doesn’t every city line up their monuments so nicely?
  • When dreaming up invasion tactics, whose idea was it to give the covert agents nametags (Hi, I’m Valerie! Ask me about how YOU can submit to our will!)?
  • Is the one dude in the front the only one who noticed the camera in time to smile?

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