Wednesday, January 18, 2023

The Mutants

Kris Neville (1925-1980) was a St. Louis native and author that wrote a half-dozen science-fiction novels, contributed to anthologies, and authored numerous short stories for magazines and digests. My first introduction to the author is his 1966 Belmont paperback novel The Mutants. This was originally published at a shorter length as Earth Alert!, a novella that appeared in the February, 1953 issue of Imagination with artwork by W.E. Terry. Now, the good folks at Armchair Fiction have reprinted the novel as a double with Poul Anderson's The Virgin of Valkarion

Many miles outside of the moon's orbit, a space station sits in waiting as nine aliens prepare for Earth's destruction. This space station maintains a cloaking device that shields it from Earth's observation and detection. Inside, these aliens have bred a thousand male and female hybrids of alien and human life forms, referred to as mutants. Their mission is to utilize these mutants to assist in decimating Earth's population after a deadly frequency is broadcast that will turn humans against one another. The mutants will act as a “seek and destroy” crew cleaning up all the leftover humans. 

On Earth, the aliens detect one of their own hybrids, a woman named Julia. This woman discovers that she has a form of telekinesis and can talk with the aliens in her mind. Sensing the aliens' plans, she plans on contacting the U.S. Government to warn them of the incoming invasion. The aliens, hoping to stop the warning, send one of their own alien hybrids, Walter, to intercept Julia and kill her.

There really isn't much to this 150 page paperback beyond the Julia character alerting the authorities of the alien attack. The tentacled aliens in space fill a small portion of the narrative, but overall remain mysterious and unimportant to the reader. The author maintains a frantic pace, which helps elevate the lifeless plot, but there just isn't enough here to really keep anyone interested. Think of The Mutants as a cross between a tepid Terminator flick and Disney's very safe Escape to Witch Mountain. Avoid this one.

Buy a copy of this book HERE.

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