The Strain

…premiers this weekend on FX. Since Guillermo Del Toro is heavily involved (and co-wrote the novels it’s based upon), I have pretty high expectations. I couldn’t find a thread about it, so I started this one. Apologies if it’s being discussed elsewhere.

I too can’t wait to see this!

Yup, me too! Gonna purchase a season pass on amazon even (or whoever has it the cheapest/at all).

I’m looking forward to it but I read the books (don’t worry, no spoilers) and felt that the story started strong but ran out of steam the longer it went on. As with all trilogies, book 2 was… had… uh… was forgettable! I am curious to see how well they translate the book to the small screen.

I only read the first book, and although it started out strong, the latter third was downright horrible. I’ll check out this show if and only if you guys come back with glowing reports.

Yep, huge decline. I didn’t even finish the second one.

I haven’t read any of the books, so thanks for avoiding spoilers. And if they start strong, perhaps they’ll get at least one good season out of them, which I’ll enjoy. Summer TV so far isn’t particularly interesting.

I hear that Tom Clancy is also “pretty heavily involved” with some of the novels with his name on them. :)

I doubt del Toro had much of a hand in those terrible books. My guess is that he let his name be used for branding. There is no sign of any of his creative fingerprints on those things. I am, however, interested in the fact that he wrote and directed the pilot for the series. The Strain has a strong opening premise and pretty much nothing else. In fact, the premise – what if a plane landed and everyone on board was dead! – is never even explained.


I want an entire series based on the premise of a plane just landing. It would be like the Seinfeld of horror. A show about nothing.

Anyway, I read the books and enjoyed them for the same reason I enjoyed 30 Days of Night: because vampires are monsters in those works. Neither are examples of great literature or film. But I was just so tired of the Rice-ification of vamps that like a thirsty man in the desert, I was just happy to get anything to drink that wouldn’t kill me. Plus, it didn’t involve yet another writer as the lead in a horror story. I blame Stephen King for that becoming so ubiquitous.

As for del Toro’s involvement in the books, it’s true he didn’t write them word for word. But he is a bit more involved in them than Tom Clancy was with video games and movies that had his name attached to them.

Del Toro first envisioned the story line as a television series, but was unable to find a buyer for the series.

I find it interesting that he wanted to do them as a tv series to begin with, but had to create a book out of them. Then that book was optioned as a tv series.

Yeah, this was how I felt as well. I never bothered to check out the rest of the trilogy and, based on other comments in this thread, that sounds like the right call.

That said, I’ll be watching the show.

hepcat beat me to it with the Wikipedia link but I’ll also mention that, if you’re looking for del Toro’s fingerprints, the vampire’s physiology in the first book sounds pretty much exactly like the interesting twist he put on vampire physiology in Blade 2. So much so that I’m assuming they’ll have to change somewhat it for the series.

Some authors are like anti-monkeys. If you put a million James Pattersons, Clive Cusslers, and Tom Clancys in a room WITHOUT typewriters, you’d still get a dozen novels in the first month.

The reason this is true is because someone else is going to do the writing for them. Patterson, Cussler and Clancy dont write anymore they are just brand names now. They have a few hundred co-writers doing the heavy lifting, while their name sell the books.

I hope Clancy doesn’t write anymore. That’d be creepy.

I think that was the point Houngan was trying to make.

The Wikipedia link for The Strain? Really? What am I supposed to discover in there about del Toro’s name being on Chuck Hogan’s crappy books? That he and his agent hired Hogan? I hate to break it to you, but guess who hired all those dudes to write Tom Clancy’s books! :)

Again, as someone who has fondly followed del Toro’s career ever since his first movie, I see none of his creativity in those sophomoric potboilers, at least what I’ve read. Sure, the vampires have a bug-like life cycle and live in sewers, so it’s got that in common with Mimic. But I don’t see any sign that del Toro was “heavily involved” in the books. But then again, I couldn’t finish them. Maybe in the end all the crap about the Mary Sue milk-drinking protagonist turns into a lovingly written homage to the clockwork aesthetic of Cronos.



There are some neat ideas behind The Strain, but you’re right – the books are somewhere between awful and unreadable. Most of the interesting ideas are played out in the first half of the first book. The third book (and yes, I read all three – I was stuck on a boat with limited reading materials!) has some interesting twists, too, but generally the characters and characterizations are awful, stereotypical garbage. It’s the sort of book you read when you want to turn your brain off.

I’ve never read the books, like I said earlier, but del Toro claims he was a big part of the writing process in this interview:

With the TV series idea dead, Del Toro began to think of other formats to which he could convert his vampire material. A practiced screenwriter and a lifelong short-story writer, he eventually settled on the idea of writing novels.

That’s where Hogan, who has written thrillers like “The Standoff” and “Prince of Thieves,” came into the picture. After the director sent him the “bible” — “Two pages in, he was hooked,” Del Toro said — they started writing separately and e-mailing each other chapters.

“There was a lot of freedom in the writing, but brutality in the editing,” Del Toro said.

Is he lying to look more involved than he was? I can’t say, but I tend to take people at face value until I have reason not to. His direction of the premier episode is a fact, at least, although how many more he’ll helm is currently unknown.

Dave, you must be new to the art of publicity. :) You might find it instructive to watch del Toro’s movies and then read the Strain books. Guillermo del Toro can write. He can construct meaningful characters in compelling situations with a wonderful degree of subtlety, insight, and even cultural and political relevance. The writer of The Stain trilogy has no such ability.


I’m tempted to ask you to just spoil the twists you mention in the third book, or maybe I’ll just go read the Wikipedia page. But I’m still smarting that the mystery that got me to read the first book – how did this plane land with all the shades drawn and then taxi into position with all the passengers and crew peacefully dead??? – was never solved. What a gyp.


But were the books coop or competitive?

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