Rating: 4/5 stars
Without having seen John Carpenter’s 1988 film, They Live, starring the late Rowdy “Roddy” Piper, I have no means of comparing the two. It’s best not to. They’re completely different mediums and as such, they should stand on their own. Eight O’Clock in the Morning was a very short story (its five pages felt closer to two or three,) so the film presumably added plenty of substance to fill its hour and forty minutes. Now knowing that, I’m curious as to how they filled in the gaps. Was it a fully realized story? Did it add character development and/or worldbuilding? Those are only a few questions lingering. I was, in fact, somewhat surprised that the source material didn’t contain Piper’s often played line. A line that most film enthusiasts likely know by heart:
“I am here to chew bubblegum and kick ass…and I’m all out of bubblegum.”
Ray Faraday Nelson’s story was told in an easily digestable style, which I believe was excellent, and his bold intentionality served its black and white mentality very well. You see it in Nada’s actions as well as the alien’s. This was more than a simplistic science fiction tale. It’s social commentary more relevant now than when it was initially published in 1963. Nelson’s concepts were many and they were grand.
One of the subjects awoke all the way. This had never happened before. His name was George Nada and he blinked out at the sea of faces in the theatre, at first unaware of anything out of the ordinary. Then he noticed, spotted here and there in the crowd, the non-human faces, the faces of the Fascinators. They had been there all along, of course, but only George was really awake, so only George recognized them for what they were. He understood everything in a flash, including the fact that if he were to give any outward sign, the Fascinators would instantly command him to return to his former state, and he would obey.
Ultimately, it ended abruptly and I closed the link wanting more. A lot more. That can be a good or bad thing. In this instance, it was a good thing. A really profound thing. The finality of it stung, delivering a gut punch that I never expected. And now, on a side note, I hope to see They Live sooner rather than later.
Read it for free HERE: