This Is Gonna Be A Rough One: The Host Prologue

This is my last day of college classes ever. What.

And I only got to recreate this scene from Animal House about five times.
And I only got to recreate this scene from Animal House like seven times.

Prologue

I immediately started giving Ariel shit when she told me she wrote her entire post on the prologue and didn’t get to the first chapter. Seriously? An entire BBGT post about the prologue? The prologue is about as long as any one of our posts. How inane could the prologue be?

The Healer’s name was Fords Deep Waters.

…go on.

Because he was a soul, by nature he was all things good: compassionate, patient, honest, virtuous and full of love. Anxiety was an unusual emotion for Fords Deep Waters. Irritation was even rarer. However, because Fords Deep Waters lived inside a human body, irritation was sometimes inescapable.

Okay. Let’s get ourselves oriented here. Humans experience stuff like irritation and are therefore bad. Souls are aliens that live inside human bodies, have stereotype Native American names, and are good. Not… not entirely certain what the metaphor is quite yet.

Fords Deep Waters is in a room full of Healing students, apparently about to perform some sort of exciting operation.

Darren, his regular assistant, saw the grimace and patted his shoulder.
“They’re just curious, Fords,” he said quietly.

Okay, the fuck kind of aliens are these? They have names like “Fords Deep Waters” and then fucking “Darren”? Sure, we learn a little later on in the prologue that Darren unusually kept his human host’s name as his own name, but when the first two names you throw at us to introduce a brand new alien society are Fords Deep Waters and Darren, there’s a certain degree of verisimilitude that’s not quite coming across. I mean, Jesus, this sounds less like science fiction and more like a Western/inspirational teacher crossover movie.

Which, uh, looks like this, I guess.
Which, uh, looks like this, I guess.

They prepare their operation: which is inserting a soul into a “wild” human, who is a girl notable for unspecified “pain she’d endured”, which, yep, definitely sounds like we’re reading a Stephenie Meyer novel.

I wanted to find a picture of Bella crying, but, yeah, this is pretty much Kristen Stewart's only face, I guess.
I wanted to find a picture of Bella crying, but, yeah, this is pretty much Kristen Stewart’s only face.

Also notable is the soul going to use the new host body. We get hints that she (the soul) is doing this for some sort of important mission for “The Seeker”, and that she’s a person well-respected within the society of souls.

“This soul was specially picked for the assignment,” Darren said soothingly. “She is exceptional among our kind – braver than most. Her lives speak for themselves. I think she would volunteer, if it were possible to ask her.”
“Who among us would not volunteer if asked to do something for the greater good? But is that really the case here? […] The question is not her willingness, but what it is right to ask any soul to bear.”

Oh my God, everyone, I think there’s two meanings to that! Because a “soul” is the alien in this book, but it’s also, like, our souls, man. Whoa. This is deep. Like the Waters that that guy Fords!

Haha, no, seriously, the metaphor here is actually that the souls in human bodies that face challenges are the souls in human bodies that face challenges. Hot damn, this is going to be a fun book.

“She’s lived on six planets.”
“I heard seven.”

The students keep revealing clues about what a renowned soul we’re dealing with here.

“She’s been almost everything. A Flower,”

What the actual fuck? The first example you can think of is that she’s been a flower? Holy shit, guys, for someone who’s accomplished so much, you could probably have come up with a way better first thing. This is like trying to explain why Gandhi was a great person and starting with “he could tie shoes”.

“a Bear, a Spider-”
“A See Weed, a Bat-“

Okay, this is not an impressive resume, you guys. I mean, spiders do a lot of pretty important stuff, but it’s not like it really requires a lot of skill to be a spider? This has to be either a metaphorical list or these have to be names shared with other aliens on other planets or something, because this makes no goddamn sense, and not just because she’s been whatever a “see weed” is supposed to be. I’m not sure what makes her so qualified for such an important mission. In fact, she seems dangerously underqualified for mission in a human body seeing as she has never been in a human body.

“Even a dragon!”

She’s been a motherfucking dragon and you still started with “flower”?!

"Well, Mr. Eriksen, you seem to have a very impressive resume."
“Well, Mr. Eriksen, you seem to have a very impressive resume.”

Fords begins the operation to insert the soul, which is a creature like a shining silver ribbon in appearance, into the human host body.

he edged the scalpel through the skin at the base of the subject’s skull with small, precise movements […] Fords delved delicately beneath the neck muscles, careful not to injure them, exposing the pale bones at the top of the spinal column.

How the hell did these aliens evolve? These things are parasites incapable of getting into host bodies if left to their own devices. How on earth did these things evolve if they need to perform surgery they would be incapable of doing on their own in order to live? I’m one exam away from having a Bachelor’s Degree in biology, The Host. I can call some pretty serious bullshit now.

The operation a success (apparently – since they don’t, like, test if the soul has actually taken over the human body or anything), Fords wishes the soul good luck, and adds “How I wish you didn’t need it.” And that’s the prologue! Next week we begin with chapter one of The Host. And sure, the prologue was hella dumb, but my interest is piqued, even if it is a Stephenie Meyer novel. Granted, I’ve never read a Stephenie Meyer novel before, but this doesn’t seem so bad so far. How bad could this be?

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18 comments

  1. Matt

    Holy shit, plants can have souls?! on a percentage basis, vegetarians are monsters!

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    • MarcAnthony

      Gonna speak from the point of view, very briefly, of somebody who has a little bit more than a passing interest in philosophy (take that sentence straight up, I mean no more or less than that), and give this question a serious answer:

      Thomism is the philosophical position held by people who agree with the medieval Christian thinker Thomas Aquinas. According to Thomistic philosophy, yes, plants do have souls.The soul, in Thomistic philosophy, is technically only that thing that makes something “alive”; if you’re alive, you have a soul.

      There’s a lot more to it than that, of course, but yeah, plants DO have souls in one definition of the term in some philosophical systems.

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  2. Bellomy

    Whoops, please ignore the man behind the curtain; MarcAnthony is me, and that website is not supposed to be linked.

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  3. Annie

    Ok, I may be way off with this one, but those “soul”-thingies sound an awful lot like that creepy alien-race from Stargate… I have no idea what their name was – frankly, I hate Stargate – but my ex-boyfriend was pretty much obsessed with that series and I remember the “evil guys” were basically some sort of super disgusting, snake-like larvae, that entered their human hosts through their neck and took complete control of their bodies.

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    • matthewjulius

      nah, I’m sure it’s a concept that isn’t unfamiliar to science fiction. my first thought when I read this chapter was the 90s YA series Animorphs

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    • theparasiteguy

      The basic idea dates back to the 50s at the very latest and is clearly derived from the demonic possession myths of old. That said, the Souls do indeed resemble the Goa-uld quite closely. I would argue that that Stargate and Star Trek TNG are the most likely influences behind this book.

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  4. scummy48

    I’m so confused by the impressive lives the soul has lived. They say that she’s been to seven planets but the only thing we hear that isn’t from earth is a dragon, and possibly a see weed, unless that was a typo. Why would she only live in earthly creatures or creatures from human myths? I feel like if shes lived on so many planets, she would have lived in a lot of things we readers should never have heard about. And Ariel talked about how impressive the origin was to the students. Why is whatever she was there not worth mentioning, when her being a flower is. I don’t understand!!

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    • matthewjulius

      yeah, the whole “The Origin” felt like a cheap way to add a sense of grandeur to the character. it doesn’t especially matter what the Origin is at this point, it’s just a sci fi bs word that sounds impressive.

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  5. E.H.Taylor

    I really didn’t understand this book when I tried to read it, so I’m hoping you guys will be able to clarify a few things for me, or at least invent some more plausible reasons for them.
    I never did find out why they were inhabiting humans even though we feel such terrible emotions like irritation… hopefully this is explained at a later date, and possibly why they would want to inhabit a flower as well. I mean, a dragon I get, but a flower?!

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    • matthewjulius

      Hopefully we can shed some light on this book for you!
      My actual, non-smartass take on the whole flower thing is that we’re supposed to get the idea that Souls have a close connection with nature. The one guy’s name is “Fords Deep Waters”, they equally value spending time as plants (a flower and a weed) as they do insects and animals, all signs seem to point towards a society with high respect for nature, likely because they have a more inherent connection with nature. That’s basically the only explanation I can think of for how “She’s been a flower” could possibly be not stupid.

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    • Molly

      I think the idea was that the souls needed bodies to actually be able to live (outside of bodies they’re just in some sort of limbo-esq sleeping state), so bodies that feel irritation are better than no bodies at all. The souls didn’t feel bad about taking over Earth, as humans were terrible to the world and each other anyway. That leaves us with another “why flowers”-question though, as I wonder why it was okay to take over the flower world – what could flowers possibly have done wrong?! 🙂

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    • noemibetancourt

      Then it’s entirely possible these aliens would inhabit, say a blade of grass. If this is the case, what happens to them when someone comes by with a weed whacker or lawn mower? Let’s say the chick this Soul inhabits steps into the street one day and gets hit by a bus or is suddenly crushed by a falling satellite. Is there an emergency procedure of some kind?

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  6. Judy

    If the Soul has to be inserted into the Host, how would this operation be done on a flower or insect? It makes my brain hurt trying to make sense of this. How did the original Souls insert themselves into anything if some sort of operation is necessary. I could actually understand if the Soul could crawl into something on its own and that way could have gotten into a body to do physical things for it. ( And thereby travel to all these different planets and take over!) Uggg! This is already soooooo dumb.

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    • 22aer22

      Yeah!! And it sounds like these slithery things would be too big for a flower…

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  7. Sara G.

    Well this is going to a fun read.

    One thing though. I, too, have a degree in biology, and I don’t think it’s so ridiculous to assume the parasite evolved this way. Saying that it’s absurd that it “requires” this delicate surgery to get into its host would be akin to an alien race saying humans couldn’t possibly have evolved because we “require” utensils to eat food. It’s probably just a more convenient and less damaging way to enter the host, just as it’s more convenient to eat salad with a fork instead of shoving fistfuls of dressing-covered vegetation into our mouths. Tapeworms would probably be more creative too, if they were intelligent.

    That being said… FORDS DEEP WATERS? What is that. What. I’m already deeply saddened by this book, and it’s only the prologue.

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