Thursday, August 9, 2018

Book Review: The Mind Parasites

Book Review: 'The Mind Parasites' by Colin Wilson

2 / 5 Stars

‘The Mind Parasites’ was first published by Arkham House in 1967. This Bantam Books paperback (196 pp) was released in December 1968. The cover artist is uncredited.

In his Introduction, author Wilson states that the novel was inspired by his reading of the fiction of H. P. Lovecraft, who Wilson saw as an example of the so-called ‘Outsider’, which in Wilson’s lexicon refers to an artistic genius whose creative works often are misunderstood, or inadequately appreciated, by a world indifferent to new talent.

‘The Mind Parasites’ is set in the late 1990s. The first-person narrator, renowned archeologist Gilbert Austin, heads an expedition to Karatepe, a remote area of Turkey, there to dig for evidence of a Hittite civilization. Using a variety of high-tech tools, Austin is astounded to discover that nearly two miles belowground sits the ruins of a city – a city constructed using immense blocks of stone weighing as much as three thousand tons each. Is the city a construct of the ancient beings that are referred to as the ‘Old Ones’ in Lovecraft’s fiction ?

Gilbert Austin has little time to ponder the implications of his discovery, for with it comes a stunning, and disturbing revelation: dwelling in the depths of his subconscious are alien entities..….the so-called Mind Parasites of the novel’s title. The parasites are skilled at hiding themselves from detection from all humans, save those gifted with an unusual degree of mental self-awareness. Austin is dismayed to learn that the parasites have been controlling and manipulating human destiny for at least two hundred years.

As the narrative progresses, Gilbert Austin finds himself engaged in a potentially lethal struggle to rid himself of the Mind Parasites, and to alert an unsuspecting world to the reality of the aliens that have placed invisible shackles upon all Mankind. But the aliens have no intention of letting one man best them………and Austin is dismayed to learn that those who have, in the past, sought to free themselves from the aliens’ control, have died by their own hands………forced to commit suicide by the malevolent power of the Mind Parasites………..

‘The Mind Parasites’ was a disappointing read. While the premise certainly is interesting, the plot is perfunctory and underdeveloped, serving mainly as a scaffold upon which author Wilson can hold forth on his personal philosophy of New Existentialism. Page after page features characters launching into one exegesis after another dealing with the metaphysics of human nature and human existence, as interpreted through the lens of the New Existentialism.

The latter pages of the novel attempt to restore some momentum to the narrative, but here Wilson introduces some ‘cosmic’ plot developments that are so unconvincing that they give the denouement a contrived quality.

Summing up, ‘The Mind Parasites’ is not the best of Colin Wilson’s sci-fi novels. His revisiting of the theme in 1976’s The Space Vampires is a much better book, and one I would recommend over ‘The Mind Parasites’.

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