Independence Day: Review: Silent Zone

IndependenceOmnibus_1 Id4silentzoneBy Stephen Molstad

Titan Books, out now

July 2, 1996 was by no means the first encounter with the aliens…

I remember reading this back when it was first published in 1997 and being disappointed by it; I suspect that I was hoping for something that did what the novel East Coast Crisis did for the V universe – telling the story of the movie from a different perspective. With ID4, we of course had that already with ID4: UK, and there would eventually be a print version with War in the Desert, Molstad’s third book.

Titan has reprinted this novel (with rather a lot of scanning errors left in, unfortunately) as part of a three-book omnibus, which starts with Molstad’s novelisation. That’s of interest to those who want to see how the ending would have played out if Russell Casse had still been in his biplane as originally planned; a lot of scenes that are in the extended version appear in the novel, as does a nice little Easter egg for Stargate fans.

Silent Zone starts on July 5, with the clean-up operation underway, before jumping back a quarter of a century, and relating Brackish Okun’s backstory. Brent Spiner’s character is one of the more irritating ones in the original film and Molstad has a lot of work on his hands to make him sympathetic to the reader. He achieves it by making Okun an outsider who finds a family amongst a group of elderly scientists who have been working on the ship found at Roswell in 1947. We follow Okun as he tries to puzzle out the ship and comes to some quite surprising deductions, all of which lead to a confrontation with the aliens, but not perhaps as we might expect.

The book feels quite rushed in places and perhaps could have done with a stronger editorial pass – the pacing could definitely benefit from some tweaking – but Molstad pulls together strands from various UFO theories over the last half of the 20th century to produce a moderately coherent whole.

Verdict: Not an essential part of the ID4 mythos but an interesting attempt to explain the film’s backstory. 6/10

Paul Simpson

Check our other ID4 reviews: Independence Day UK  //  Dark Fathom

And our interviews: comics writer Victor Gischler  //  composer David Arnold

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