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Literature / Slimer

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"One by one it took them... and death was only the beginning!"
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Slimer is a 1983 science-fiction/horror novel by "Harry Adam Knight," a.k.a. Australian author John Brosnan, writing under a pseudonym. The novel was co-written by English author Leroy Kettle, however Kettle went uncredited. The novel was adapted in a 1995 film called Proteus by Brosnan himself.

Paul Latham, his girlfriend Linda Warner and their four friends Alex, Rochelle, Mark and Chris had been on a drug run from Morocco when their yacht sank. They had to abandon ship so quickly they lost all of their drugs (except for Alex's personal stash of heroin). By a seeming stroke of luck, they stumble across a seemingly abandoned oil rig. Going aboard, they discover the rig is actually a cover for a top secret lab run by a company called Brinkstone.

Some exploring reveals discarded, unfired guns and scattered, empty clothes. That night, a mysterious, unseen creature attacks them. Although Paul empties an M16 into it, this doesn't seem to harm it. They come across a scientist named Dr. Shelley who says the creature is nicknamed "Charlie" and won't harm them again. Although he promises he'll explain more later, he is missing the next day. Later a security officer confronts the group, offering to help, but before their startled eyes turns into "Charlie," a monstrous creature which wounds Rochelle.

Paul and the others eventually discover that "Charlie" is actually a great white shark given shapeshifting abilities by an experimental compound called "Phoenix." It absorbs the minds and bodies of its victims, and can take their shape, and they're next. To make matters worse, the increasingly hostile Alex begins antagonizing everyone at every turn, questioning Paul's leadership and threatening to be as dangerous to the group as the monster itself.

Has nothing to do with the green ghost of the same name from Ghostbusters.

Long out of print, it was finally reprinted in 2017 with a new introduction by co-author Leroy Kettle.

Tropes used in this novel:

  • Accidental Murder: At the end, Paul shoots one of the helicopter pilots, mistaking him for one of Charlie's forms.
  • Action Survivor: Paul and Linda.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: The reason for why Rochelle is with Alex.
  • Anatomically Impossible Sex: Of the "plain impossible" variety. See Cruel and Unusual Death below.
  • And I Must Scream: The poor humans who are consumed by Charlie are technically still alive inside him, and occasionally are able to shapeshift back to their own selves before Charlie reasserts control.
  • And Then John Was a Zombie: The first conversion victim was Buckley. And then Rochelle. And Alex. And...
  • Apocalyptic Log: Dr. Shelley's video tapes.
  • Apocalypse How: Planetary Class 3: What would occur should Charlie survive Going Cold Turkey (see Weaksauce Weakness below) it could go on to reproduce itself and absorb everything and everyone on Earth and supplant the human race entirely.
  • Asshole Victim: Alex. And Mark after his Despair Event Horizon causes him to turn into a real Jerkass.
  • Artistic License – Biology
  • Bio Punk
  • Chekhov's Skill: Paul has some passing knowledge of how to fly a helicopter. This saves him and Linda when the pilot of their getaway chopper turns out to be Charlie in disguise and he has to fly the craft himself. In a nod to realism, though, he isn't terribly good at it and almost kills them trying to land.
  • Closed Circle: Except for the beginning where the castaways are in the life raft, and the ending where they're in the helicopter, all the action takes place on the oil rig.
  • Combat Tentacles: Charlie can unleash these if he wants to.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Poor Chris. How many people can say in the afterlife they died getting raped to death with a giant wang of doom?
  • Despair Event Horizon: Mark suffers one when Chris is taken by the creature.
  • Developing Doomed Characters
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Alex often falls prey to this, to both the chagrin and relief of the others. When he threatens Linda and Chris at one point, Linda bares her breasts to make him drop his guard so she can hit him. Charlie takes advantage of this to get Alex, first unsuccessfully by baiting him as Dr. Carol Soames, and later successfully after assimilating Rochelle.
    • A surprisingly wholesome example happens late in the story between Paul and Linda. When Paul starts to worry that Linda has already been absorbed by Charlie, Linda calms him down and reassures him by holding his hands to her breasts and giving him a deep kiss.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Mark's heroin addiction is a struggle depicted negatively, even though it ends up saving the day when it negatively affects Charlie as well.
  • Dying as Yourself
  • Dwindling Party: The friends get picked off one-by-one, although it takes a while for Charlie to start whittling the group down.
  • Eagle Land: Alex Rinaldo is the lone American in the group (a Mexican-American to be precise, not that this seems to make much difference) and at one point touts the US as "the greatest country in the world." The American helicopter pilot at the end also brags that "we have the death penalty where I come from!"
  • Eating the Eye Candy: Alex does this quite a lot, not just with his own girlfriend Rochelle but with the other women as well. Unfortunately for everyone else, he wants to do much more than stare.
  • Empty Piles of Clothing: All that is left after Charlie absorbs its victims. Interestingly, Charlie has the ability to morph clothing, as when the absorbed people's minds surface and alter Charlie's form to "themselves," they don't appear naked, but instead are wearing clothing that is attached to their bodies and can't be removed.
  • Everything Is Big in Texas: Mr. Brinkstone is from Texas. "Being from Texas," comments Dr. Soames, "he doesn't think small."
  • Evil Is Visceral
  • Extra Eyes: When in the form of the second helicopter pilot Charlie grows an extra eyeball in the back of his head to watch Paul and Linda in the back seat. Creepy.
  • Face Full of Alien Wing-Wong:
    • After Charlie evolves from absorbing individual people into itself and moves on to "converting" humans into more of its new mutant shark species, it uses a penis-like barbed claw dripping a fluid to "impregnate" the helicopter pilot and later tries to do this to Paul aboard the copter when impersonating the pilot. It even refers to this as "giving its seed" to people.
    • Alex is essentially French-kissed to death by Charlie in the form of Rochelle, who forces "her" tongue down his throat to take him over.
  • Fanservice: There are several detailed instances of characters being in the nude and/or having sex.
  • Fan Disservice: This is bound to happen when Charlie shapeshifts as an attractive person.
  • Foil: Paul and Linda's healthy and loving relationship is contrasted with those of the other castaways:
    • Alex and Rochelle are only with each other because they like the sex, and both have cheated with other partners while together. While Paul and Linda are sexually active, they have a much stronger emotional connection. For instance, when Rochelle refuses to sleep with Alex, he goes off and forces himself onto Chris; this is juxtaposed with Paul and Linda making love slowly and gently in their room.
    • Mark and Chris are both portrayed as needful and codependent, with Mark's addiction driving Chris to degrade herself to help him, up to and including giving herself to Alex. While Paul is the leader in their own relationship, Linda is still strong-willed in her own right, and they act much more supportive and protective of each other.
  • Functional Addict: Mark.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Alex is disliked by everyone else for being a lustful jerk prone to violent outbursts. Paul and Linda both loathe him, Chris is afraid of him (for good reason), and Mark only complies with him to get his heroin fix. Rochelle is the only one who tolerates him, and she still puts up clear limits.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Charlie, the shapeshifting, mind-absorbing, invulnerable, seemingly invincible monster, was once an ordinary shark.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: A few instances from different characters:
    • When the group hears scary noises their first night on the rig, Rochelle arms herself with an M16 while in the nude (she had been sleeping that way).
    • Linda unbuttons her shirt to bare her breasts before hitting Alex with the butt of a pistol.
    • Charlie appears naked as both Dr. Carol Soames and as Rochelle.
  • The Ghost: Lloyd Brinkstone, the owner of the Brinkstone company, who is mentioned several times in Shelley's video tapes but never actually appears. He does however appear in Proteus.
  • Giant Eye of Doom:
    • Charlie grows one in the back of his head while in the form of the pilot so he can watch Paul and Linda in the backseat of the helicopter.
    • There's a scene where the characters are looking through a porthole in the door at something weird, and gradually realise it's a giant eyeball pressed up against the glass, staring back at them.
  • Going Cold Turkey: Mark is experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms due to his heroin addiction. This is also weaponized against Charlie after he becomes addicted to heroin after absorbing Mark.
  • Gone Horribly Right: The Phoenix experiment, according to Shelley. They worked hard to design something that could survive almost anything and boy howdy, they sure succeeded!
  • Hellish Copter: Paul isn't as good of a helicopter pilot as he likes to think he is, and although he and Linda do manage to make it to another Brinkstone rig, the poor Sikorsky they're in crashlands. They both survive, though.
  • A House Divided: Much like in The Thing, there's a great deal of paranoia among the characters about who the monster is.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: The characters frequently try to get the imprisoned consciousnesses of Charlie's absorbed victims to come to the surface, in order to prevent the creature from harming them.
  • Impostor-Exposing Test: Sort of. Paul's idea of one is to point a loaded gun at the person in question and threaten to shoot them if they can't prove they're not the creature. In a bit of Fridge Logic, this threat makes little sense since by this time the group is already aware that bullets don't kill Charlie.
  • Involuntary Shapeshifting: Sometimes the minds of the absorbed victims can override the main consciousness and forcibly turn Charlie's body into theirs. It's only temporary, though, and after regaining control, Charlie retaliates with some Involuntary Shapeshifting of his own, forcibly turning the body back into his own.
  • Kill It with Fire: Tried against Charlie. It hurts it, but doesn't ultimately do any lasting damage.
  • Lampshade Hanging: A lot of the dialog consists of the characters commenting about various tropes and cliches in horror movies.
  • Lost at Sea: After their yacht sinks (and explodes!), the characters find themselves adrift in a lifeboat before stumbling across the Brinkstone rig.
  • Market-Based Title: It's titled Gen in Poland.
  • Misidentified Weapons: Alex gleefully gives details on the M16 rifle he finds, only to get them wrong, like saying its calibre is 5.63 (5.56mm) and has an eighteen-round magazine (20 or 30 rounds).
  • Ms. Fanservice: Just about every female character is one to some degree:
    • All three of the female friends are described as attractive, but Rochelle is the one that's remarked on the most. The text from Alex's perspective states that she has "tight, round breasts" and "muscular buttocks."
    • Dr. Carol Soames was a young scientist with blonde hair and a stunning figure.
  • New-Age Retro Hippie: Chris. She is an animal rights activist, outspoken and liberal politically, insists she has psychic feelings, and is into "crystals," whatever that means.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Charlie is a mutated, shapeshifting, heroin-craving super-intelligent great white with tentacles.
  • Ominous Obsidian Ooze: The creature's pure form.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: The novel makes it clear that Alex's forcing Chris to perform oral sex on him in exchange for giving heroin to Mark is extra special sleazy. To say nothing of what he does to her after be takes control of Charlie's body after being absorbed by him later.
  • Sex for Services: Alex forces Chris to give him oral sex and let him rape her in exchange for heroin to give to Mark.
  • Shark Man: This is more or less Charlie's default form, and the one he is shown in on the cover.
  • Stock Unsolved Mysteries: Someone brings up the Mary Celeste and compares it to the deserted rig.
  • Terrified of Germs: Chris is a germaphobe among her many other odd quirks.
  • Threatening Shark: Charlie started out as one. And then Brinkstone experimented on him, making him even more threatening.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Linda actually is the one who defeats Charlie at the end, and comes up with the idea to distract him enough for Paul to boot him out of the helicopter.
  • Twenty Minutes with Jerks: Except for levelheaded Paul, everyone is either a thoroughly unpleasant person or never stops whining. Linda does get better over time, though.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: The entire Phoenix experiment was begun because Lloyd Brinkstone basically wanted to save humanity in case of nuclear war.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifter: Charlie, to an extent. Although he has a physical form, he can turn himself into a liquid state to flow underneath doors and through air vents.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: The seemingly invincible Charlie's weakness turns out to be drugs, which is discovered when it absorbs heroin junkie Mark, who had just shot up. The mutant is essentially defeated by being turned into a heroin addict!