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Literature / Area 51

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The cover of the first novel's e-book edition
Area 51 is a long-running book series by Bob Mayer, starting under his pen name of Robert Doherty in 1997 and continuing to this day. It begins revolving around the titular secret military site in Nevada, though rapidly expands to a global and then interstellar scale with the reveal of what's going on there, plus its connections to other things around the world. Thus far, there have been thirteen books in the series, along with some spin-offs which involve elements from the books' past.

The series contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Abusive Precursors: The Airlia, the aliens who created humans and have covertly manipulated us throughout history, view humanity as cannon fodder at best. However, they were fighting something even worse.
  • The Ageless: As a result of their technology, Airlia can keep from aging (along with humans they've enhanced) and don't die of this.
  • Alien Abduction: These were actually faked by Majic-12 to keep people in the dark about what's really going on. People abducted are implanted with fake memories which make it appear real.
  • Aliens Among Us: Initially humans in the know think the aliens whose technology they've gotten hold of left millennia ago. This turns out to be wrong-some never left, and have been manipulating humanity from the shadows. Once their past presence has been made known, they reveal themselves fully.
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  • Aliens Are Bastards: The Airlia are coldly indifferent to humanity at best, and see us only as minions. The Swarm, meanwhile, view all other life forms as hosts.
  • Aliens Steal Cattle: Part of the Area 51 disinformation campaign is taking cattle and mutilating them with lasers, which makes people think aliens did it for some unknown reason, misdirecting them down that rabbit hole.
  • All Theories Are True: The prevalent occult/conspiracy theories about ancient aliens on Earth, Atlantis, Area 51 the Pyramids etc. were all or mostly true according to the books. In fact, the author himself claims 95% of the content is true.
  • Ancient Astronauts: The series reveals there is an alien species that has interfered with humanity throughout our history, and has maintained a presence into the modern day. They were the creators of most famous edifices (the Pyramids, the Great Wall of China, Stonehenge etc.). In fact two factions exist who have both battled each other for millennia, and their leaders took various guises (such as King Arthur) to win humans' support. Basically all myths of gods, ancient heroes and lost lands (like Atlantis) come from their past interference. This conflict boils over to the present in the novels. It's also revealed their species is combating another who's even worse. Humans, it turns out, were genetically engineered by them as soldiers to fight in this war. We're not even native to Earth.
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  • Ancient Conspiracy: It's revealed that two factions from the Airlia, an alien species, have been plotting against each other and covertly warring with human stooges for thousands of years on Earth, along with keeping their existence unknown to most.
  • Area 51: The first book heavily focuses on the mysterious site, revealed as a secret government base for test-flying flying saucers. However, in subsequent books things move on into other areas.
  • Artifact Domination: The Airlia computers mentally dominate the people who foolishly turned them on.
  • Artifact Title: Though the first book does revolve heavily around the events at Area 51, subsequent books expand the scope to other areas, with the site being only mentioned or tangential.
  • Artificial Human: It's revealed that the Airlia created many people, partly with their DNA, to serve as agents. It's eventually revealed that humanity in general were created by the Airlia.
  • Artistic License – Linguistics: Although he's realistically tentative regarding his translation of the fictional high runes in the first book and he starts with a very small vocabulary, it's left a mystery just how Nabinger could decipher any of them. It's said they aren't related to any known language (unsurprisingly, as they turn out to be from the alien Airlia), and there is no Rosetta Stone equivalent. Without that, however, he should not have the first clue about what they mean, certainly not to the extent he does starting out.
  • Artistic License – History: The Aymara are mentioned as having vanished mysteriously, much like the Anazazi people. However, not only are they still around (nearly two million strong across five countries) one of them, Evo Morales, was elected as President of Bolivia since the books came out.
  • Atlantis: It's revealed this was the source of all civilizations on Earth, after refugees from there fled its destruction by aliens millennia ago.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: A ton of historical figures were actually aliens in disguise, such as King Arthur and Jack the Ripper.
  • Bilingual Bonus: A villain is introduced named Abdu Al Iblis. This means "Servant of the Devil" in Arabic. Oddly enough, Richard Francis Burton (despite having lived in Mecca where he met him) doesn't realize what this means (nor does it tip off Arabs generally).
  • The Black Death: It's revealed the Airlia weaponized the disease to cull humanity in the past. They do so again in the present, making it even worse.
  • Black Helicopter: Majic 12's covert ops, Nightscape, uses them when on their clandestine missions. It's justified as they do these at night (like their name implies).
  • Brainwashed: The Airlia technology can brainwash humans to serve them.
  • Broken Masquerade: After a couple books, the world learned the alien Airlia exist and have had covert contact with humanity for millennia, in spite of their efforts to hide themselves from most. They struggle with the import of this and its threat afterward.
  • Clarke's Third Law: A lot of objects deemed magical or miraculous in myth were in fact very advanced alien technology left on Earth.
  • Conspiracy Kitchen Sink: The series manages to involve tons of popular conspiracy theories within its mythos (the author claims most are true), starting of course with Area 51. Yes, there is a secret base on the site, and the US government (or part of it anyway) is hiding alien craft they've been flying since the late 40's there. Also, they're behind alien abductions and crop circles (as disinformation confusing people). We later also learn most of what's believed about human history was wrong. The craft are from an alien species who colonized Earth millennia ago, and ruled ancient humans on Atlantis. Since it was destroyed, two different factions have been fighting each other behind the scenes, and numerous mythical figures were aliens in disguise or influenced by them. Also, lots of mythical artifacts were real, but alien technology. There have also been many human (or part-human) stooges serving these aliens secretly, with them having infiltrated many world governments. Oh, and one faction was the force behind the Nazis. Plus, biggest of all: they created humans to begin with.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: We meet a number of these, "UFO watchers" who camp outside Area 51. They turn out to be right that the government is involved with/covering up UFOs. In the third book it's mentioned that most Americans don't believe aliens are real, that it's all been fabricated by the government (along with thinking the Moon landing didn't happen). No doubt the first lot being correct fueled later ones.
  • Covert Group: The series deals heavily with these. In the first book there is Majestic-12 (alias Majic-12) and its security/black ops Nightscape. Later books soon introduce more, like Section Four (Majic-12's equivalent in the Soviet Union, then Russian Federation), STAAR, The Mission and more. Most are nefarious, others not entirely.
  • Crop Circles: Majic-12 is in fact behind these as part of their cover-up for Area 51.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: People advocating fringe theories of the government covering up UFOs and world cultures all stemming from one source are proven right in the books. It's mentioned that all of human history will now have to be rewritten as a result of what's revealed.
  • Driven to Suicide: Johnny, who had been brainwashed into believing he was abducted by aliens, jumps over a cliff to escape his delusions of them.
  • Elites Are More Glamorous: Turcotte's a Green Beret (US Army Special Forces). We also encounter members of other elite units, including the British SAS (Special Air Service) or later US Navy SEALs. This is usually justified, as they're used for very hard, important missions, and explains why Turcotte's so good.
  • Enemy Civil War: Two factions from the alien Airlia have been fighting on Earth for millennia, and both use human agents (such as The Guides, The Ones Who Wait or even entire countries when they're revealed) as their minions.
  • ET Gave Us Wifi: The atomic bomb is revealed to be based in part on alien technology.
  • Evil Redhead: The Airlia all have fiery red hair, and are uniformly malicious.
  • Fake Memories: Majic-12 has a technology which can give people memories of false events, such as being abducted by aliens. It's used to cover up what's really going on at Area 51. We later learn that Turcotte and Duncan's memories are fake too.
  • Flying Saucer: The government has nine of these at Area 51 that they found in the 1940s-50s and have been testing their capabilities ever since, along with a mothership for them.
  • Government Conspiracy: Initially the US government had long been covering up flying saucers which they held for decades and test-flew regularly with faked alien abductions, cattle mutilations, crop circles etc., besides trying to crack other mysterious technology they found on Earth while also hiding it from other people. Further, they hid the source of the above-aliens. Later it all gets exposed.
  • The Great Flood: It's revealed to have occurred as a result of Atlantis's long-ago destruction by aliens. However, it wasn't global, but still a substantial enough event to inspire myths around the world.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: In Area 51: The Reply, a Russian Spetsnaz team make a last stand against oncoming Chinese troops to let their American counterparts get away.
  • Herr Doktor: Werner von Seeckt is a German physicist whom the US "recruited" as part of Operation Paperclip (he was in the SS, though not a true believer in Nazism). He claims to regret that. Later other German scientists are introduced who were also recruited the same way, and share a Nazi past (but appear to have been more hard core than him).
  • Humanity Came From Space: It's revealed that humanity isn't native to Earth. They were created elsewhere by the Airlia, an alien species, to be their soldiers.
  • Humanoid Aliens: The Airlia, who look very similar to humans, with uniformly pale skin, slitted red eyes, heads that are twice humans' average size, very long earlobes which reach to the shoulders, longer limbs and fiery red hair. This resemblance makes a lot of sense, as humans were created by them.
  • Insane Admiral: General Gullick, Area 51's commanding officer in the first book, at first just seems like a very harsh, straight-edged military man involved with nefarious dealings. However, we see increasingly that he's not just bad, but mentally unstable, and grows more so as the novel goes on. It's shown to be a result of the alien computer affecting him. He dies at the end when it's destroyed.
  • La Résistance: There's a human resistance against the Airlia which has, like them, existed on Earth for millennia and even precedes it on other planets.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Majic-12 is shown to have a technology called EDOM (for Electronic Dissolution Of Memory) which can erase people's memories selectively.
  • Last-Name Basis: Many of the main characters such as Mike Turcotte and Lisa Duncan mostly get called by their last names.
  • Lost Language: The fictional high runes and real rongorongo language of Easter Island feature in the island. In both cases, characters are able to partly or wholly decipher them (how is not explained).
  • Lost Technology: The Airlia, an alien species, left their technology in different locations hidden across the Earth long ago. Humans gradually discover some of it over the years.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: General Gullick orders Dr. Cruise to kill Von Seeckt with an insulin overdose to make it look like he died of a heart attack after the latter's strenuous objections to their upcoming test make him think he might blow the whistle on it. Luckily, Turcotte finds out and stops Cruise.
  • Masquerade: Members of the Airlia, an alien species, have covertly been living on Earth for millennia and also manipulating humans to their ends unbeknownst to most aside from their minions.
  • Mind Rape: The memory-altering technology can cause this by making subjects believe aliens abducted or tortured them.
  • Mixed Ancestry: Turcotte is French-Canadian and Native American, or "Canuck Indian" as he puts it, from Maine near the border with Canada.
  • The Mothership: Along with the flying saucers (bouncers) the US government long ago found a carrier ship for them, which they call the "alien mothership". For decades they couldn't even get inside due to its hull being impenetrable with their tools. Eventually though they managed to on the basis of new information, with the idea of turning its engine on (they theorized it had interstellar FTL capabilities). Stopping this because it might result in a disaster makes up part of the first book.
  • Nazi Grandpa: Professor Werner Von Seeckt, who is pushing eighty in the first book and the only sane man at Majic-12. However, he also turns out to be a former SS member, forcefully recruited by US intelligence and has worked for them ever since. Von Seeckt however claims he wasn't a true believer, and didn't know of the atrocities (but also admits it was mostly willful ignorance), with no evidence of him participating in any. He shows no signs of retaining Nazi beliefs in any case, and is largely heroic. Still, his past understandably disturbs most characters.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Leif Jorgenson is an obvious stand-in for Thor Heyerdahl. Both advocate the same diffusionist views on culture, and Heyerdahl's famous "Kon-Tiki" expedition is mentioned as done by him.
  • No Name Given: Many of the military antagonists in the first book don't have their first names shown. This is fairly standard for military address of course.
  • No Such Agency: There are many of these in the books, starting with Majic-12 and its covert ops Nightscape.
  • Path of Inspiration: Brainwashed humans called the Guides set up a religion worshiping Airlia, claiming they're akin to gods and will bring humanity into the future. Those who don't believe, meanwhile, will be destroyed. It's just one means which the Airlia use to control humans.
  • The Plague: In The Mission an engineered strain of the Black Plague is released to cull humanity of all except those who obey the Airlia.
  • Plot Hole: When the first nine books were reprinted in e-book form, the author added references to make their setting updated. Unfortunately, they conflict. For instance, a reference is left to the Pathfinder launch "a year ago" (in 1997). Che Lu is seventy eight, taking part in Mao's Long March (1934-35) at age seven. This would put Area 51: The Reply in 2005. However we then hear Viking 2 had been launched to Mars "over thirty years" ago. Since that was 1976, this would put things somewhere past 2006. It seems like this could have been avoided by simply keeping the original setting, or omitting such references entirely.
  • Puppeteer Parasite: The Swarm, an ancient enemy of the Airlia whose sole objective is infecting and living in all other life as their hosts.
  • Pyramid Power: It turns out that the Pyramids were built to be beacons by an alien species called the Airlia. Their computers are pyramid-shaped too.
  • Really 700 Years Old: The alien characters are revealed to have been around for millennia, as their technology can stop them aging. Duncan and Turcotte are revealed to also be like this.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: The Airlia all have red eyes, and sure enough, they're bad guys.
  • Removing the Head or Destroying the Brain: This turns out to be the only way the Airlia can be killed, since their technology heals anything else.
  • The Reveal: The series runs on these, starting with the fact that there are aliens on Earth. Probably the biggest is that these aliens created humanity. It's even the source of the seventh book's title-Area 51: The Truth.
  • Setting Update: The 2012 e-book version of the first book updated references to reflect time passing since it was published in 1997. Turcotte references 9/11, and Von Seeckt no longer states that his birth year was 1918-while fairly plausible then as 79, he'd be 94 when the e-book came out. Of course, the reference to him joining the SS in 1940 remains, so if he'd been younger it raises questions. There's only so far a character's age can be pushed (yet the next book says his birth year is 1918 anyway).

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