I can’t stress this enough. In May 1996, The X-Files was on fire. In the fall, the show would move from Fridays to Sundays just to amplify its visibility. It was a certifiable phenomenon. So why not fling out another hardcover book before the first was in paperback? Ground Zero was awesome after all. Why not force another from the same writer, Kevin J. Anderson?
The X-Files: Ruins finds Mulder and Scully sent to Mexico to find an archeologist who went missing in Mayan ruins. They quickly find themselves caught up in an armed rebellion as they try to find her. In the process it becomes clear the Mayan gods were aliens.
Well I’m going to get to this quickly. I remember really loving this book. I was an idiot. This book started offending me early on and never stopped. This is a bad, bad book.
The problems with Ruins begin with the premise. Mulder and Scully are two highly despised, low level FBI agents. They aren’t going into an area of ANOTHER COUNTRY with a violent uprising to investigate a disappearance. They’re lucky to get the grunt work they get in small towns. (Yes, the movie went to Antarctica but it’s implied Mulder went of his own accord.)
Then there’s the entire portrait of Mexico. Yikes is this not pleasant. No, Mexico isn’t the nicest, safest area but it’s still maybe not as horrid as it’s played here. This is a very white guy view of Mexico and it’s racist as hell.
Also racist? The idea that underlines this book. The whole aliens visiting primitive cultures idea is despicable, a racist concept that implies that non-white cultures couldn’t achieve significant achievements. So of course the book shamelessly panders to it.
But the book only does so half-assedly. That’s the weird thing. This is only just barely an X-File. Obviously there’s the alien monsters responsible for disappearances but that’s it. Maybe 25 pages of anything vaguely SF in the whole book. Mostly it’s focused on the conflict in the area, which again is horribly handled.
And then there’s Mulder and Scully, sort of. Yeah they’re reduced to caricatures here in the worst way. Scully is shrill and mean while Mulder is an unbearable joke machine. They’re not at all them. Even Grant’s early takes were at least somewhat closer to season 1 Mulder and Scully.
I’m not wasting any more time on this book. This was transparently a book Anderson was working in unrelated to the show that he grafted the license onto. Bad move on his part. Bad move on the part of Fox allowing this.
Two more books to go. Four down. Two bad. Two good. Next, we get to a good one.