Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Space Vampires – review

Author: Colin Wilson

First Published: 1976

Contains spoilers

The Blurb: The Energy Eaters

Far out in the asteroid belt an alien spaceship of colossal dimensions is discovered. Initial investigations of its vast, gothic interior reveal a number of humanoids preserved in a state of suspended animation. At last, there is real proof that intelligent life does exist in other galaxies. But when three of the beings are brought back to Earth, disaster strikes. The humanoids are discovered to be vampires – preying on people’s life-fields, sucking the body’s energy with a kiss of death.

Suddenly one of the vampires – a female of extraordinary beauty and sexual allure – escapes. And the hunt to track it down soon develops into a psychic struggle for the survival of the human race…

The Review: Regular readers will be aware that I rather like the 1985 space epic Lifeforce. Thus I have wanted to read the book it was based on for some time and… well, whilst aspects are familiar, this is a horse of a very different colour.

Familiar aspects are found in the name of characters and in certain scenes (the mental institution scene is fairly book accurate, up until leaving the institute, it transpires) but, whilst the film was contemporary to the time it was filmed, this is set in 2076 with an end note set in 2145. The spacecraft is not hidden in a comet (jumping into the ‘Haley’s Comet being the harbinger of doom’ bandwagon) but in the asteroid belt. There are not the desiccated corpses of bat like creatures (rather the aliens’ true forms are more akin to squid or octopus). They find some thirty or so humanoids (not three) and the three they bring back are two female and one male not the other way round.

Most importantly we do not have the ‘suck the lifeforce out to make a lifeforce sucking zombie’ – as happened in the film. Things are more subtle, played out between three creatures that can transfer their essence body to body. Possibly the reason that the film put the zombie plague bit in was (beyond it being visually and cinematically more exciting) the fact that, in the novel, Carlsen’s own inherent vampirism is awakened by his contact with the creatures. Indeed we discover that psychic vampirism is a natural occurrence on certain sexual and predatory levels.

My main issue with the book was that I felt it fudged the presence of the creatures. Explanations are given but, despite the overarching story concept working, the fine detail seemed a little incongruous – but perhaps that was just me missing a point. In essence I understood the source of the creatures and their interactions with earth but then, it seems, there were creatures like this on Earth when the ship wasn’t nearby (or was in stasis) – I refer to the story of Count Magnus. I also felt the conclusion was somewhat of an anti-climax and this might have had something to do with the issues I had with the fine detail.

As a sci-fi I felt it was sci-fi light. Other than finding the ship and having lambda energy-field readers there was no apparent need to set it into the future – thus there was no problem setting the film in the 1980s. This will, of course, appeal to those who do not get on with hardcore sci-fi.

A very different experience to the film, interesting ideas and more than competent writing, however the ending left me a little cold. 6 out of 10.


Quintessence said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Quintessence said...

Your reviews are awesome! I stumbled in while looking for info on 'chupacabra terror'! Alot of great info here! Im looking forward to reading more.
sorry for the delete there -
I just realised that i have one of colin wilsons books at home, that i checked out of the library about 15 yrs ago, its a bit over due.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Quintessence, cheers for the comment - appreciate it.

I think the library may have forgotten about it - hate to think what the overdue fee would be!

Quintessence said...

Moms the word :P

It was one of the first books that got me into the occult sciences. I picked it up to do a project on witches in JR high.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

its always fascinating as to what we read and where it leads us - expecially in our formative years... of course, my lips are now sealed!

Taliesin_ttlg said...

I should actually have said, my lips are sealed re the library book