by Whitley Strieber
Cover Artist: Getty Images
Review by Joseph B. Hoyos
Tor Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765323767
Date: 12 April 2011 List Price $24.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
In Dulce, New Mexico, 1952, alien and human scientists labored together to create flesh-and-blood bodies for the biomechanical aliens to inhabit while living on Earth. The experiment failed and the aliens departed. In the 1980s, under the guidance of genetics engineer Dr. Thomas Ford Turner, Project Hybrid combined human DNA with alien DNA to create a boy (Generation One) and a girl (Generation Two) who were super strong, super intelligent biomechanical creatures who appeared perfectly human. In order to perfect the ultimate warrior, Project Hybrid combined mostly animal DNA with alien DNA. The result was Generation Three, which was similar to the previous generations but reptilian in appearance and extremely vicious and deceptive. A Senate Select Committee ordered all hybrids destroyed, but they survived. In the present, Generation Three is determined to conquer the world and only Generations One and Two can prevent them.
Whitley Strieber's fantastical Hybrids is a nightmare culmination of many science fiction and horror films, both classic and modern. Though not entirely original, it is a hellish rollercoaster ride that I didn't want to end. On the surface, it is a gory, terrifying science fiction novel about aliens who will literally slice the skin off a human's body in order to use it for concealment. Hybrids rivals everything from the classic Roman Polanski horror film Rosemary's Baby to the cult science fiction television series War of the Worlds to the modern box office hits Bladerunner, Screamers, Virus, and Independence Day. Probe deeper into the novel and one will see that Hybrids is more than an alien/monster novel but a social commentary in the vein of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein: man rejects his own creation, just as God rejected his creation in Genesis. Once again, the age-old question arises concerning what makes us human: Our physical bodies? Our memories? Our souls? Is there truly a sovereign God or does He exist only in the science lab?
I don't believe that we are alone in the universe; neither does Whitley Strieber. Before becoming a critically acclaimed, controversial writer, he penned The Wolfen, The Hunger, and other novels about creatures living secretly among humans, endeavoring to assimilate. These novels were the fruit of his subconscious dealing with an alien abduction which he actually experienced. He documents it in his best-selling, non-fiction Communion. Since then, he has written many best-sellers, fiction and non-fiction, on the subject of alien abduction. In Hybrids, Generations One and Two, whose true identities are not immediately revealed to the reader, desperately struggle to be like normal humans. They greatly love each other. Unfortunately, neither one knows the other's true feelings. The love between these two biomachines is the source for much of the complex novel's angst. Generation Three, which is practically devoid of human DNA, is cruel and vicious. These hybrids don't wish to assimilate; they wish to deceive, conquer and destroy. They think as one, having a type of hive mentality. The sadistic attacks on the citizens of San Francisco; the alien technology, especially in the field of genetics; and the brave fighting of the Delta Force operators ensure that Hybrids will remain superglued to the reader's hands.
When will men stop trying to invent new ways to murder each other? If men spent that precious time and research money on innovative means of making peace in lieu of killing, Earth would be a much happier planet. Human bodies are perfect just the way they are; our DNA doesn't need to be spliced with that of aliens or insects or reptiles. After all, when we play God, something inevitably goes wrong. In the case of Hybrids, all hell breaks lose.
The suspense mounts as the hybrids multiply and spread from Small Town America to the big city. The gross factor increases as the aliens create their own biorobots in the bizarre forms of scurrying spiders and flying condors that rip off your flesh and giant beetles that suck out your innards with long proboscises. Therefore, Hybrids is very highly recommended for fans of science fiction horror. The strong horror element is the reason I chose to read Hybrids. After all, a novel written by Whitley Strieber is guaranteed to terrify the reader. In my case, I actually lost sleep; I couldn't put it down. Generations One and Two were such likeable characters that I was worried about their safety. Most of all, I worried about the safety and future of mankind.