Monday, June 23, 2008


One of my favorite movies, and a favorite of many horror fans, is John Carpenter’s 1982 masterpiece The Thing. In that movie, an alien life form gets loose at a research facility in the Antarctic, one with the ability to assimilate and replicate other life forms. It turns into a battle between the still-human occupants of the station and the replicants to keep the infectious alien from reaching civilization and consuming the world. It ends with ambiguity, with two survivors freezing in the ice, while we are unsure if either is harboring the infection.
Although Matthew J. Costello’s 1990 novel Midsummer is not an official sequel to the movie, it uses a very similar setup to explore what would have happened had an infected person gone home to the United States.
Alan Ward is a naval officer stationed at an Antarctic research station, when one of the scientists apparently goes berserk and kills everyone else, leaving Ward as the only survivor. Or is he? When Ward returns home, he is shadowed by a naval investigator to the upstate New York town of Stoneyridge, where it quickly becomes apparent that Ward didn’t come back the same, and very quickly, there is a desperate race to contain the outbreak and save humanity.
Back in 1990, Costello was considered a rising star in the horror field, and Midsummer shows why. The book moves at a fast pace, and is reminiscent of classic Stephen King. Sadly, Costello has moved away from horror fiction as the publishing genre declined. Midsummer and Costello’s other 1990s horror output is now out of print, but if you can track down a used copy, it will be well worth your time. Please ignore the cover of the book, which has to be one of the worse and most misleading covers ever.
Ironically, I was reading it on June 20th, which, for those who go by a scientific definition of the season, is exactly…Midsummer.

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