The new SYFY series Resident Alien is based on a comic produced by Dark Horse, first appearing in Dark Horse Presents in 2011 in a series called Resident Alien: Welcome to Earth. The character and series was created by Peter Hogan (2000 AD, Tom Strong) and Steve Parkhouse (Milkman Murders, Doctor Who). The series show-runner is Chris Sheridan.
The main character, Doctor Harry Vanderspeigle, is an alien who has crash landed on Earth. With prodigious mental powers, blessed with increased intelligence and the ability to read people through their kinesthetic behaviors, he has hidden himself in the quiet of middle America.
Conceived as an everyman, er… every-alien, Harry is a subversion of the alien invader trope. He is kind, doesn’t plan to take over the world, isn’t planning on wearing human skins or shooting energy rays into the minds of hapless small town Americans. What he loves is a good mystery, and doesn’t care how he gets it. He enjoys the feel and smell of old books and particularly spy novels of the sixties.
With no idea when or if he is going to be rescued, he takes on the life of a retired medical specialist who was perfectly content to pretend to be fishing to pass the time, until a murder in town brings him into human contact for what is promised to be a brief consult.
The particular murder which brings him to town gets him cajoled into becoming a medical practitioner for the small town of Patience, since they are without a doctor. Harry agrees because while he has been doing his best to lay low and learn about human culture, he is tired of television and more than a little bored.
Harry hides in plain sight due to his telepathic powers. People see him as an ordinary human being – except for that one in a million person who are immune to his mind powers. That person ends his first interaction with her, with a shotgun pointed at his head.
Intrigued by the series, I read it all in one sitting. Each series was an arc of four books which in its way was a throwback to the old form of novel writing popular during the pulp era. It uses the Lester Dent style of writing and given the overall tone of the work I’m certain it isn’t an accident.
Harry’s visit to Earth hasn’t gone unnoticed, and I suspect the televised series will most certainly use the secretive government agency following his carefully hidden and elusive trail as one of the long-term story arcs.
I didn’t find the comic to be based in anything but subtle and sardonic humor, but SYFY appears to be taking some liberties with the tone and the casting of Alan Tudyk, recently of Doom Patrol fame. The series will also include Sara Tomko (Sneaky Pete), Corey Reynolds (The Closer), Alice Wetterlund (Silicon Valley), and Levi Fiehler (Mars) as co-stars.
To be honest, I think it was clever casting of a science fiction themed series because the special effects cost is minimal and depends on clever writing to carry the day.
I enjoyed the comic and am very curious where this series could go, since it utilizes and subverts a variety of usual science fiction tropes.
Resident Alien is slated to come out some time this summer.
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Thaddeus Howze is an award-winning writer, editor, podcaster and activist creating speculative fiction, scientific, political and cultural commentary from his office in Hayward, California.
Thaddeus’ speculative fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies and literary journals. He has published two books, ‘Hayward’s Reach’ (2011), a collection of short stories and ‘Broken Glass’ (2013) an urban fantasy novella starring his favorite paranormal investigator, Clifford Engram.