Elizabeth Hand – The Frenchman Millennium (HarperPrism 1997, 248 p.)
THIS IS THE WAY THE WORLD ENDS
The signs are everywhere. A stripper's mutilated corpse. Prophecies scrawled on a highway overpass. The living dead interred in homemade coffins beside a freezing river. Darkness visible is stalking Seattle's sexual underground, and the police can't stop it.
Frank Black quit the Bureau and moved his wife and daughter to Seattle to keep them safe. But it may be too late. As the millennium approaches, the darkness only he can see has followed him. Now, Frank Black and the enigmatic Millennium Group are pitted against a tormented serial killer whose visions mirror Frank's own: the death throes of a world – our world – spinning into the abyss.
Based on the highest-rated pilot in Fox television history, the premier Millennium novelization by award-winning author Elizabeth Hand, captures the vision and excitement of the original script by The X-Files creator, Chris Carter
While I think that The X-Files aged badly, at least in the later seasons – I just recently watched some re-run on tv and was amazed how awful a lot of eps are with their endless going in circles, cheesy, unbelievable melodramatics and mind numbingly stupid court intrigues -, Millennium has held up better. At least in parts. While the third and last season had spectacularly dropped the ball and is a waste of time, Lance Henriksen did very compelling work in season 1, and season 2 is also a lot of fun. What's not to love when Frank Black's voiceprint codephrase for logging in on the then brand-new internet is "Soylent Green is People".
The pilot episode was as grimdark as they come, both in script as in execution, which owes a lot to Se7en in look and atmosphere. For American prime-time tv which is notorious for censoring content it was pretty violent and gruesome.
This novelization by SF-scribe Elizabeth Hand sticks to the tv-script, there is no embellishing at all. Normally this approach makes a novelization more often than not rather boring and superficial, but Hand manages to transforms the pictures for the page. It captures the feverish and often ridiculously overwrought atmosphere of the episode very well. Some plot headscratchers are not Hand's fault, as the background is developed with the usual glacial pace of a Carter production.
The novelizations for the The X-Files on the whole were astonishingly mediocre to outright crap, but this works. Even if it is just another serial killer of the week story.