Sunday, September 06, 2015

Announcing My New Book: The X-Files FAQ (2015)

Today, I want to make note of the release of my newest book. 

It's the second book I've written for the FAQ series (the first being The Horror Film FAQ in 2013), and this monograph focuses on one of the greatest cult-TV series of all time: The X-Files (1993 - 2002; 2016 - ).

So what will you find inside the book?

Well, it opens with a remarkable and heartfelt foreword by series creator Chris Carter.

Mr. Carter wrote this lovely piece on the eve of shooting the second episode of the six episode series revival, to begin airing in January 2016. He reflects on The X-Files journey at this juncture -- more than two decades in -- and discusses the people who have, alongside him, made the journey such a remarkable and memorable one.

The book also features chapters devoted to the many paranormal cult-TV series that aired before The X-Files, and those that followed in its pop culture wake in the 1990s.  

Some of the "ancestor" programs I discuss are Kolchak: The Night Stalker (1975), The Sixth Sense (1972), Twin Peaks (1990 - 1991), and One Step Beyond (1959-1961). 

The descendent series looked at include American Gothic (1995), Prey (1998), Strange World (1999), Freakylinks (2000), and others.

But the bulk of this book focuses on what The X-Files means, what it says about our world and the culture that gave rise to it. My introduction discusses the series' historical context, and it compares the period of Pax Americana (the 1990s and the introduction of the Internet) to the Age of Pax Britannica a hundred years earlier (and the advent of globalism). 

Both ages witnessed rapid development in science and technology (namely communications technology), and were believed to be ages of peace and prosperity. Pax Britannica gave us the Gothic imaginings of Bram Stoker and Mary Shelley -- Dracular and Frankenstein -- while Pax Americana gave us The X-Files.  

In some remarkable ways, The X-Files is thus a reinvention, for our age, of Gothic tropes and philosophies. In Mulder and Scully we see the battle between romanticism (Mulder, and the need for monsters), and enlightenment or rationality (Scully).

The X-Files FAQ also features chapters devoted to explorations of the series' entries on faith and spirituality, ethnocentrism and xenophobia, adolescence, Americana, and science and technology. 

Other chapters focus on the series' frequent recurring "monsters," meaning serial killers, lazarus species (creatures from prehistory, awakening in our age...), and so on.  

Across the book, I also name and sketch out all the players in the conspiracy, and note how the heroes, conspirators, villains and allies fit in, structurally, with the Monomyth narrative, or the hero's journey. Some characters function as oracles, others serve as gate-keepers, and some are loki-like mischief makers.

Another chapter is devoted to looks at other crucial elements of the Chris Carter universe, including Millennium (1996 - 1999), Harsh Realm (2000), and The After (2014).  Similarly, one chapter reviews, in depth the first two X-Files movies (of 1998 and 2008), respectively.

I hope that you will consider purchasing my latest book and supporting my work in print (which, let's face it, funds this blog, and allows me to continue working on it on a daily basis).  

So I hope you will share my love, personal and philosophical, as a fan and and as a critic, for The X-Files.  

The X-Files FAQ is now available for purchase at, here.


  1. John, Your latest publication is a great and pleasant surprise.
    The X-Files is such an endlessly entertaining and thought-provoking series that lends itself to limitless scrutiny and analysis. I never tire of reading of the series and I am thrilled you have selected this as your latest project.

    Congratulations on this endeavor and I very much look forward to supporting you and reading this publication. Best wishes. G

    1. Hi SFF: Thank you so much for the words of support, my friend. I agree with you. The X-Files for me is one of the three or four true greats in television history, and it opens up, continually, to new analysis, new perspectives. Such a brilliant program. I hope you enjoy the book!!!

  2. Awesome news John and congratulations!

    Really looking forward to this! Your "Terror Television" is hands down the best reference/critical analysis book about genre television I ever read. I loved your "X-Files" coverage in that book, written when the show was still on the air. So it will be interesting to read your reflections now fifteen years later.

    I don't think it's possible to overstate what an enormous influence this series was, not only on genre television, but across the entire pop culture spectrum. There would have been no "Lost" or "Walking Dead" if X-Files hadn't come along. I think the show forced all television dramas to up their game with stronger writing and more cinematic production techniques,

    1. Hi James,

      Thank you so much! I loved writing Terror Television. That's one of my favorites of all the books I've written, in part because it was so much fun to research programs such as The X-Files, Millennium, Ghost Story, and so on. I agree with you about the importance of The X-Files: it is the first series that really made horror mainstream, and a pop phenom. I also agree with your conclusion that we would likely not have Lost or Walking Dead (and certainly not Fringe...) without the Carter program. I hope you enjoy the book!