This blog has become more bookish lately, when I added the feature “Recent Reading Round-up”, which I plan to continue. So when publisher Titan called for bloggers to review the X-Files book they’d just released, I jumped at the opportunity. I received the book for free in exchange for a review.
X-Philes know not to buy X-Files books. Or at least to buy them very discriminately. You see, there was a time when new X-Files books came out every other month (ah, the 90’s…). Buying them all was near impossible, what with parents controlling your access to money and all that. So you had to learn to choose wisely. Once you started paying attention, however, picking the right book wasn’t that difficult, given that most of them were, well, an affront to your fan expertise. If not your intelligence. You know what I mean: blatant mistakes, rehashed content, overused photos, misleading taglines…No matter how young and inexperienced you were, it was clear that all publishers wanted was a slice of The X-Files cake without putting in too much effort.
I am sorry to say that The X-Files– The Official Collection Volume 1: The Agents, the Bureau and the Syndicate somewhat follows this tradition. It uses the revival as an excuse to re-package old content. But on the other hand, it does so openly, and in a way that caters exclusively to the fandom: by collecting “the best features, interviews and profiles from The Official X-Files Magazine”. The Official X-Files Magazine! Remember it? I subscribed to it, and knew to expect it in my mailbox on a Wednesday (sometimes Thursday) at the same time each month. My mum once hid a new issue under a pile of laundry so it wouldn’t distract me from my homework.
So if you’re anything like me, you’ll be happy to get your hands on The X-Files– The Official Collection Volume 1: The Agents… the new X-Files book. Your favourite articles from back in the day ! Yes, even this one about Mulder and Scully’s respective apartments, with photos of the actual sets. And all these vindicating top-ten lists of best moments and episodes. And thinly-disguised fic! Even these true crime articles you didn’t give a shit about but felt you had to read! Eeeeee!
On the other hand, if you’re anything like me, you still have all your old issues of X-Files Magazine. Sure, they’re at the back of the wardrobe at your mum’s house, but they’re still there. So spending £14.99 ($19.99 US, $25.99 CAN) on articles you already own might not be the best use of your money in these difficult times.
In the book’s defense, it does weed out the most appealing pieces from the magazine, which makes me think the selection was made by a fan, or at least someone who’s watched the show. (Yo, Titan! Next time you need someone to do a sweet job like that, call me! I’m always at (202) 555-9355.) Add the fact that the articles are arranged thematically, and you get a solid reference book. In terms of the reading experience itself, however, the thematic ordering means that there might be a four-year gap between adjacent articles. With every piece, you must figure out the context before you can enjoy the content. Which can be a fun game, I guess…but in the end, I’m sorry to say, it won’t make up for the fact that said content is dated. The book will get a little nostalgic smile out of you, but that’s about it.
So I’ll just add this and I’ll let you go. If you’ve never read XF Mag, or if you lost your copies in a tragic case of growing up, then consider buying this book. Same if you’re a collector, obviously. Otherwise, well… I’d save my money.
You can purchase The X-Files– The Complete Collection Volume 1: The Agents, the Bureau, and the Syndicate from Foyles. You can also pre-order volume 2, Little Green Men: Monsters and Villains, which is coming out on 8th March.
 Note for non-American Philes: although you probably had your own version of the magazine, most of these articles won’t be new to you. I used to read the French version, and I recognise most of the pieces in this book. The foreign versions obviously included A LOT of translated articles from the US. There are a few British-made articles in there though (I see you, Kate Anderson and your mention of roast dinners on page 86 :b), which might be new to us- I can’t be certain.
 Do you own The Complete X-Files: Behind the Series, the Myths and the Movies, published in 2008? If you don’t, go buy that instead. No really. Go. Now.