Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Nomads (Bantam, 1984)
[originally posted 17Sep2001]
Yarbro’s novelization of megastar director John McTiernan’s first script is your basic Yarbro novelization—sticks close to what the final film looked like, doesn’t embellish too much, lends itself to easy, quick reading.
Evidence that the American mind just doesn’t want originality: of the films McTiernan has directed, Nomads is the only one that didn’t gross over $50 million. ($2.5 million total, if memory serves.) Not coincidentally, it’s also by far the most original work he ever did. A dying man is brought into an emergency room on the graveyard shift and, in the process of dying, bites the ear of the doctor who’s attending him. The doctor starts having hallucinations—or are they hallucinations?—of the last few days of the victim’s life, and the events that led to his death. Compare and contrast Bruce Willis fighting terrorists and/or Arnie and Gov. Ventura fighting aliens with dreadlocks.
It’s your standard eighties horror-movie fare, of course, and no one who’s seen a film of any sort in the past thirty years will be surprised at the ending, but it’s a fantastic look into the mind of a man who’s since hit the very top of Hollywood’s A-list, filtered through an author who’s eminently capable in the script-novelization area. Worth a look. ***