Predator: A Novel

Predator: A Novel[PDF] ✎ Predator: A Novel ✐ Paul Monette – From the author of Scarface comes this explosive adventure Dutch Schaefer heads an elite CIA paramilitary rescue team chosen for a simple, oneday job in the Central American highlands But there's anot From the author of Scarface comes this explosive adventure Dutch Schaefer heads an elite CIA paramilitary rescue team chosen for a simple, oneday job in the Central American highlands But there's another kind of hunt going on in the jungle, and one by one Schaefer's men are picked off by an unseen predator.

: On Brink of Summer's End .

Predator: A Novel Epub ☆ Predator: A  eBook å
  • Paperback
  • 200 pages
  • Predator: A Novel
  • Paul Monette
  • English
  • 14 March 2019
  • 9780352321466

10 thoughts on “Predator: A Novel

  1. Michael says:

    I've developed a fascination over the years with film novelizations. When I was younger, I understood that books were often turned into movies, but I never understood why anyone would bother reversing the process. Movies are an essentially visual storytelling medium, and they work within the confines of that technology. The idea of translating prose to screen was understandable to me, but doing the opposite made no sense. Movies aren't books.

    Nothing brought this point home to me more than reading R.L. Stine's novelization of Spaceballs back in grade school. Spaceballs relies almost entirely on toilet humor and visual gags, so Stine was ham-strung trying to translate those to a text-based medium. On top of that, Spaceballs was a junior novelization, meaning all the profanity and innuendo got bounced out the airlock, censored for protection of our youth. That's all well and good, except that presumably the target audience for a young adult Spaceballs book was . . . let me check my notes here . . . young adults who had already seen Spaceballs.

    Obvious problem is obvious.

    Movie novelizations didn't change my mind until I read Alan Dean Foster's adaptation of Aliens. While Cameron's picture is a big-budget action extravaganza, apparently nobody bothered to tell Foster. Thus he approached Aliens the same way he approached his adaptation of Alien from a few years earlier: like a straight up horror film. Not only that, but Foster's adaptation had scenes appearing in the script, but sliced out by Cameron for the theatrical release, including the excellent sentry gun sequence, and Ripley finding the cocooned Burke and handing him a grenade. Up until Cameron put out the Special Edition LaserDisc for Aliens in 1991, Foster's novelization was the only way you knew those scenes ever existed.

    And if the Aliens book was that good, then damn, the novelization of Predator by Paul Monette had to be equally as awesome, right? I spent months scouring used bookstores for a copy, turning up plenty of copies of the True Crime paperback of the same name by Jack Olsen, before I finally located one on the fifty-cent rack of a tiny hole-in-the-wall place in Speedway which has long gone out of business. Excitement at a fever pitch, unable to believe my luck, I got home, stashed myself in my room, cracked the cover, and started reading . . .

    . . . only to discover the novel was nothing like the film. Characters went by different names, very little of the humor that lightened the tension was present, whole scenes missing, and the Predator itself, the most integral part of the film, the thing they named the entire movie for, bore zero resemblance to the costumed nightmare embodied by Kevin Peter Hall. Paul Monette, whoever the hell he was, had managed to ruin one of the greatest action films of the 80's.

    I was crushed. I put the book on my shelf, but figured I'd never open it again. Downsizing my collection a year later, it hit the give away pile. I actually felt guilty passing it off to someone else, because they were sure to be as disappointed as I was. It was further proof of my first inclination towards adaptations: if you want to watch the movie, watch the damn movie. You can't count on the book.

    Well, that was 1992. A lot's happened since then, and my older self has begun looking back on stuff I read when I was younger, wondering if it was really as bad as I remembered it, and giving it another try. Some stuff is just as terrible as when I first picked it up, but occasionally I'm surprised at what a few years and a lot of growing up can do for one's appreciation of the material. This brought to mind Paul Monette's Predator, and I was interested in finding out if it was as awful as I remembered. Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, it took me all of a day to locate a dirt-cheap copy, and when it arrived I dug into it with tempered expectations.

    As an adaptation of the film we got, it's still a failure. It was clearly based on an earlier draft of the Jim & John Thomas script, likely one bearing the 'Hunter' title before it was changed to 'Predator' midway through production. As such, it's lacking all of Shane Black's contributions and Schwarzenegger's improvisations, including the infamous Stick around! that everybody remembers. Many characters die differently, as the Predator creature hunts only with a spear-like bladed weapon (something it didn't acquire until Predator 2), so there's no laser-targeted shoulder cannon, no wristblade gauntlet, no flechette launcher.

    As noted earlier, the Predator creature itself is completely different from the film version too. The hunter is still an alien which can camouflage itself almost perfectly, but it can also mentally infiltrate and take over the mind of any host body it desires, then assimilate that mind into its own to take complete control of it. Thus it can become a bird, soaring high above the jungle, or it can morph itself into a static part of a tree. The only life form the Predator can't latch on to and subvert this way is a human, and we learn early on that it's come to Earth not just to hunt, but to study us and discern why that is.

    The basic premise is still there, with a group of commandos raiding a guerrilla outpost in Central America, then fighting an unseen enemy through the jungle until only one man is left standing in the final act. Only the internal bits have been altered and re-arranged. Same skeleton, different skin and muscles. The writing in Predator is beautiful, packed with metaphor and personal introspection from its characters and gorgeous depictions of the scenery, but an artistic rendering of the jungle and self-reflecting characters at the expense of a heavy focus on violence and combat are not what most readers have come looking for. Yes that's what Monette delivered. So what I was most curious to learn about this book was who Paul Monette was, and why someone picked him to write this book. What I discovered fascinated me.

    Predator opens with a dedication by the author:

    To Roger Horowitz

    Achilles was not such a warrior
    nor so mourned by his comrade-in-arms

    So who is Roger Horowitz? He was Paul Monette's partner. Horowitz died from AIDS-related complications in 1986, the year before this book was published, likely around the time Monette was in the middle of writing. Monette himself died from AIDS-related complications in 1995, but spent much of his life writing poetry, novels, and non-fiction aimed at helping fellow gay men, whether closeted or out, deal with the trauma of losing friends, lovers, companions, and family members to the devastating disease.

    Reading Predator with this in mind throws an entirely new light on the story. Now knowledgeable of Monette's background, the story suddenly becomes an allegory for the very real devastation and havoc wrecked by AIDS on its unsuspecting victims. Consider:

    - The Predator travels invisibly, unseen by human eyes, jumping cross-species like HIV/AIDS. Without special equipment, without knowing what to look for, without the telltale signs of its presence, the humans in the story can't even detect it even after they become aware it's coming for them.

    - Dutch and his commandos are among the most rugged, manly men on the planet: fearsome in their ability to wage war on any front, using everything from guns and blades to their own fists and teeth to get the job done. They are in the prime of their lives, the apex of human physicality, and they represent a cross-section of races and nationalities. None of that matters. The creature killing them is indifferent to this and slaughters them wholesale. HIV likewise doesn't care how healthy you are, your ethnic background, or your virility. It, like the Predator, is a silent killer that respects nothing except what it can extract from you for its own biological and instinctual needs.

    - A group of Green Berets and a number of guerrilla insurgents are the first to fall victim to the Predator, but Dutch doesn't find out who or what killed them until much later. Not even Dillon, the CIA agent in charge of the operation, spills what's going on until after Dutch has sussed out the situation for himself. In the 1980's, the US government treated both AIDS and its victims as non-topics of conversation. Because of this, it took the Center For Disease Control, the one group most capable of fighting it, years to get the funding necessary to research it and even figure out what they were dealing with. Untold numbers were infected and died before the US government and the medical community took it seriously, and publicly explained what they were fighting.

    - Dutch is targeted by the Predator and manages to win, but he's physically, emotionally, and mentally shattered by the experience, a shell of his former self. HIV/AIDS wasn't necessarily a death sentence back then, but those who survived, and those who watched their loved ones waste away, especially in the 80's, rarely emerged unscathed.

    - Anna, the only woman in the novel, is not directly attacked by the Predator, but she's an eye-witness to its ruthless ability to carve through people. At the book's conclusion, she's seen huddled up to Dutch in the helicopter, and Monette alludes that she plans to stay with him no matter what. HIV, while not unknown in women, was far more prevalent among men in the 1980s, and even today the overwhelming majority of new infections occur among the male population. Anna, despite not being hunted by the creature, became a victim anyway, a circumstance shared by the friends and loved ones of those battling HIV/AIDS.

    - One of the book's final lines is Dutch, reflecting on his experience:

    He had had his private war, and the winning of it, and whatever peace it left behind, were things he would never speak. It was a kind of homage to the men he'd lost.

    For most people, especially those in the gay community, a battle with AIDS was something you didn't talk about. People with HIV/AIDS were marginalized and shunned due to a lack of awareness about the disease, how it was transmitted, and the risk of infection. Their grief was private; people omitted any mention of the virus from the obituaries of loved ones out of fear and respect for the deceased. Even the medical profession struggled with this: doctors and nurses were concerned about inadvertent transmission and/or contamination that could result from treating HIV-positive patients, which often resulted in sub-optimal care, or none at all.

    * * * * *

    In literary criticism and interpretation, it's taught that one's interpretation of a work is correct so long as one can provide enough evidence to back it up. I'm not sure I subscribe to that in all instances -- I've seen some head-twisting interpretations of what seem like otherwise-straightforward stories which all hinge on a few words of spoken dialog or description, nor am I about to claim Monette deliberately turned the story of Predator into an allegory for the fight against AIDS, nor will I make some outlandish case about the sexual orientations of the characters.

    What I will say is Monette did what every writer does, whether by accident or by choice: filtered the story through his own life experiences. Do I think he was the right choice to adapt Predator? No. While he's great at painting pictures with his words and making us feel the oppressive heat of the jungle, he's not that good at writing the action which drive the story. Whether it's the assault on the guerrilla encampment or Schaefer's last stand against the Predator, the action is bare-bones and makeshift, with Monette using just enough words to explain what's happening.

    Those bits of introspection I mentioned, though? The scene setting? The emotional breakdown of the men as they confront the truth of what they're up against, and the fact they and their comrades aren't likely to survive? Monette nails these like he's lived through them. Only now I know that's no surprise, because he has, and he did. Monette's Predator is not a great book, but that doesn't mean it's awful either. He made it an interesting one both to read and to explore, built on the framework of his own experience fighting in a different sort of private little war.

    Maybe that's good enough.

  2. Lauren says:

    I believe this is the book from the movie, Predator. Someone correct me if I'm wrong. Anyway, don't laugh. It's a great book. It's like bloody damn poetry.

  3. Trey Murrah says:

    Much more in depth than the movie.

  4. Andrew Hood says:

    Read with Monette's non-fiction and own biography in mind, this novelization oddly becomes a decent parable for the cruel, chaotic devastation of AIDS in gay communities throughout the 80s.

  5. Brannigan says:

    The novelization to the movie Predator is very interesting. Like all novelization should you get to enter the mind of the characters so you get to truly understand their motivation outside of facial expression, body language and tone. You also get small sections of the story that got cut from the movie. These two reasons are why I enjoy hunting down novelization to movies I love. Granted some of the authors aren’t the best but it still gives you a second take on the same story.

    One other reason I bought this particular novelization is because the creature villain didn’t fully flesh out until well into the filming of the movie and novelization are written from the script often before or at least during the same time as the filming so the creature in the book is very different from the final version we see in the movie. The book villain is very much an alien insect like creature that seems to have the ability to morph its shape instead of using the invisible cloaking technology seen in the movie. It’s alien culture is also different as it uses terms like drone, and soldier to describe others of its race. It also has orange blood instead of green and it uses a spear as a weapon instead of a shoulder rocket.

    If you are a fan of the films, comics and other books I’d recommend the book if only to see what almost was.

  6. Paxton Holley says:

    Great novelization of the film. Lots of added elements.

  7. Suzette Banick says:

    to be honest the only thing that kept me reading after the first chapter was a love of the movie. The writing was amateurish, the dialogue was chunky, and the messed up the alien. The predator I have loved from the movie is replaced by a pink and red chameleon. This was probably based on the first screenplay, the one that was trashed when they got a new director. The new director was said to have completely change the alien and if this is a taste of what could have been, I'm glad it was scrapped.

  8. Charles says:

    A novelization of the move Predator. Pretty good. I enjoyed the movie a lot, though.

  9. Neil says:

    don't know why this differs from the movie, its a great movie but a terrible novel at times it reads as if the writer has let a child have a bit of a go.

  10. Brian Tucker says:

    So...following up War & Peace with the novelization of Predator might not have been the best idea. :) Who knew? #gettothachoppa #moviebeatsbook

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