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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr
enik1138 at popapostle dot com
V: The Crivit Experiment V
The Crivit Experiment

Written by Allen Wold

(The page numbers come from the 1st printing, paperback edition, published May 1985)

The Visitors engage in an experiment to seed the east coast of the United States with crivits.

Story Summary

As the book opens, a group of suspicious software developers surreptitiously sneaks into the Visitors' research facility at the Research Triangle Park (RTP) in North Carolina, planting a tap on the phone lines. In another part of the building, we learn that, besides the electrical research being conducted there, the Visitors are coordinating a new experiment involving crivits, a large Sirian predator that lives in sand and strikes at its prey from underground (glimpsed previously in "Breakout" and "The Overlord").

At the nearby campus of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, a group of students are fed up with the Visitors and their presence on school grounds and make plans to vandalize the Visitors' liaison office on campus. Meanwhile, local farmer Durk Attweiler sees a deer get suddenly sucked down into the ground near his property and later he notices some Visitor activity at the abandoned farmhouse on the lot next to his and it scares him.

That night, the students break into the Visitors' liaison office and carry out their vandalism. But as they are about to make their getaway, the Visitors catch them and haul them off in a van. Durk hears about the sand-dwelling creatures the Visitors use to guard the perimeters of their work camps and believes one of these creatures is what attacked and swallowed the deer he saw the other day.

The captured students are taken to Camp T-3. Later, one of them attempts an escape and she is eaten by one of the crivits from under the sand mote ringing the camp. Meanwhile, the software developers transcribe the phone conversations they are getting from their wire tap and realize some kind of experiment with living creatures is taking place nearby. They confide in some researchers at a zoological firm in the RTP and begin investigating. This eventually brings them into contact with Durk, who shows them where he saw the deer, and later a goat, get swallowed up. They bring a pig as bait which is immediately grabbed up by a hungry crivit. Later, they decide to go "fishing" for a crivit to bring it back for study.

While plans are being made, Durk decides to spy on his new Visitor neighbors during the night. He witnesses them feeding another alien life form, a mammalian verlog, to the crivits in the old farmland and the next day he finds that the creatures have even invaded the ground under his own bean fields. Later, the scientists return to his farm to fish for a crivit. Though some injuries ensue, they manage to kill and haul out of the ground a crivit with the help of a grapple and motorized winch. As the scientists drive off in a pick-up with their prize, Durk remembers an old mine entrance on his property that leads into the Visitors' lot, which should allow him to sneak over for a closer look without being seen. He does so and later tells his new researcher friends about it in case they ever want to get a look or stage a raid on the Visitors' experiment. Later, they do use the mine to sneak onto the lot and tap the Visitors' phone there while also bringing back a couple of live verlogs for study.

After studying the dead female crivit specimen brought back, and finding eggs inside it which they incubate and hatch, the zoologists determine that the crivits, if let loose into the country would pose a grave ecological threat. They decide they must somehow destroy the Visitors' crivit experiment.

Meanwhile, both Durk and one of the researchers' compatriots, Professor Barnes from UNC, are captured by the Visitors for getting too nosy about the crivit experiment and both are sent to Camp T-3. The researchers decide they must attempt to free the two because, if made to talk, they know too much and could reveal the fledgling resistance group's plans and members. Not being experts in prison breaks or guerrilla warfare, a contact of theirs brings in three members of the Los Angeles resistance by plane, including Chris Faber. The raid is successful, but some human lives are lost in the process.

Some time after the raid on the work camp, the raid on the crivit experiment has been planned and put into motion. Shortly after the main participants have left to begin the raid, Penny realizes from continued study of the phone transcripts that the experiment's leader, Leon, is actually planning to release verlogs, the Visitors' main food source, into the wild along with some crivits, the verlogs' only natural predator, to keep the population under control. But Penny's research suggests the verlog population will overwhelm the crivits' ability to prey on them and they will breed like rabbits and devastate the vegetation across the country. The real threat are the verlogs, not the crivits! They realize that the others' raid on the experiment, while killing the crivits, may allow some verlogs to go free.

They race to the farm to let the others know they must destroy the verlog shelter on the farm as well, allowing none to escape. Racing through the forest, they manage to get word to the raiders just in time, and Durk burns down the verlog shelter with kerosene. He has a showdown with the enraged Leon in the process and he manages to trick Leon and his soldiers into chasing him across his bean field where some of the crivits have been loitering. Durk jumps up onto the safety of his tractor just in time to escape the crivits and the creatures are instead attracted to the footfalls of Leon and his soldiers, who are quickly pulled under. 



Notes from the V chronology

Chris Faber is mentioned and then appears within the final few chapters of the book, having flown in from L.A. to help stage the raid on the Visitor work camp at Fort Bragg. This sets the book sometime before the events in "The Betrayal" when he and Tyler leave L.A. to escort Robin to Chicago.

Didja Know?

The crivits as described in this novel are quite similar to the "graboids" as depicted in the later film and TV series Tremors. Maybe the writers of the original films were inspired by The Crivit Experiment? 

Many of the main characters work for Data Tronix in the Research Park. Although there are several businesses sharing this name in a number of states, none of them appear to occupy facilities in the real world Research Triangle Park.

Much of this story takes place in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. This city was also mentioned in the Freedom Network report in "The Betrayal".

Didja Notice? 

Page 1 reveals that the Visitors are now occupying the former General Electric complex at Research Triangle Park (RTP) in North Carolina. Research Triangle Park is a real facility founded in 1959, located near the cities of Durham, Raleigh, and Chapel Hill and housing over one hundred companies' and organizations' research facilities on 7,000 acres.

Page 4 describes the blue horizontal lines of the Visitors' energy-beam fence around their research facility. This seems to describe the type of fences used by the Visitors in several episodes of the TV series.

On page 7, Anne reveals that she attended Caltech. This is the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, CA, known for its strong sciences and engineering curriculum.

Page 11 mentions the Raleigh-Durham airport. Presumably this is referring to Raleigh-Durham International Airport, the real world airport which serves the area.

On page 11, the Visitor Freda mentions that the Research Park exists in the Piedmont. The Piedmont is a geologic region of low, rolling hills of mostly clay and rock running between the Atlantic Coastal Plain and the Appalachian Mountain range.

Page 17 mentions the Minutemen facing the British. This is a reference to the American Revolutionary War. The Minutemen were a militia formed by the colonies and designed for rapid response to emergencies. The "Minutemen" nickname came from their ability to respond "at a minute's notice".

Several characters are said to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It is a public university dedicated to research and is located at one corner of the Research Triangle. Page 19 mentions several students walking down Franklin Street to the Old Well. Franklin Street is a Chapel Hill road leading into the University. The Old Well is a neoclassical rotunda on campus modeled after the Temple of Love in the Gardens of Versailles, France. Page 20 also mentions Cameron Avenue, the South Building and the Courtland Building. Cameron Avenue is another road leading into the University and South Building is one of the buildings on campus (the Old Well is right in front of it). I've found no references to the Courtland Building, so I don't know if it's real or not; perhaps it was made up by author Wold since it is depicted as having become the Visitors' campus liaison office. Page 32 mentions Hanes Hall, also on campus.

On page 19, Benny says his dad talks about the good old days at Berkeley. He is probably referring to the University of California, Berkeley.

Page 21 mentions the Five Star Bar and Estes Bar and Grill. These appear to be fictional businesses. The community of Churchill near Chapel Hill is real.

On page 22, the bartender gives Durk a Stroh's. Stroh's is a brand of beer, at the time made by the Stroh's Brewery Company in Detroit, Michigan. The brand was bought by Pabst Brewery in 2000 and they continue to make it.

On page 23, Wendel tells Durk he's going up to Pisgah to poach deer. Pisgah is a reference to Pisgah Forest, a community in Transylvania County, NC.

On page 27, Lester mentions Ma Bell. Ma Bell is a nickname that was given to the American Bell Telephone Company and used colloquially by the public to refer to any of their local telephone systems, particularly when ATT ran the company as a government-approved monopoly from 1934-1984.

Page 28 mentions a wave pattern on a scope that looks like an EKG. An EKG is an electrocardiogram, which measures the electrical activity of the heart.

On page 29, Paul covers up his team's work on the phone tap of the Visitors' research facility by using the cover story that they are working with JPL on data from the Galileo probe. JPL is the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the city of La Cañada Flintridge, CA, operated by Caltech and is a NASA research and development center. The Galileo probe is the probe sent by NASA to Jupiter to study the planet and its moons; the problem with this reference though is that Galileo did not launch from Earth until 1989 (at least in the real world!). I presume author Wold was writing this in early 1984 when the launch was still expected to take place at around that same time, but it was delayed many years for various reasons over time, not the least of which was the destruction of the space shuttle Challenger in 1986. Perhaps in the V universe, the Galileo launch somehow maintained its originally-scheduled launch date!

Page 29 also mentions a teaching hospital in Chapel Hill called Memorial. This is North Carolina Memorial Hospital.

Page 34 describes loblolly pines now growing over most of the abandoned Thurston farm. This is an accurate portrayal, as the loblolly is one of the dominant pines of eastern North Carolina.

Page 35 mentions Fayetteville. Fayetteville is a city in North Carolina and is home to the U.S. Army's Fort Bragg.

Page 35 also mentions the Saksapaw River. I can find no real world counterpart of this river, but it is presumably meant to reference Saxapahaw, North Carolina, an unincorporated area of the state on the Haw River.

Pages 47-48 depict Durk's drive over several roads to get to the FCX (Farmers' Central Exchange). The road intersections depicted all exist in Chapel Hill, though there is no store known as FCX in that particular city as far as I can find.

Page 52 says the city of Durham is known as the City of Medicine, which is one of it's nicknames in the real world.

Page 54 mentions Diger-Fairwell Zoologicals in the RTP. This appears to be a fictional business.

On page 55, Anne and Mark drive on Alexander and Cornwallis in Durham. These are real roads in the RTP area.

Penny mentions ITA on page 58. As far as I can tell she is referring only to a fictional business in the RTP.

In the work camp on page 65, Chuck Lamont says he was arrested by the Visitors two weeks after they first arrived on Earth. He must be referring to their second arrival though, after the events of "Dreadnought", because if he'd been arrested during the first occupation, he would have either been freed after they left or retained by them and placed in suspension aboard a mothership as food stock.

On page 66, Dr. Van Oort and her husband are drinking Hennessy, a popular brand of cognac. She warns it is the last they have and it will have to be Sebastiani after that. Sebastiani is a brand of California wine.

On page 68, a student directs Durk to "Memorial", where he can find Information. Memorial Hall is a building on the UNC campus.

Also on page 68, Professor Barnes' office is said to be in the Smythe Building. I've found no evidence of this building on the campus, it may be a fictional building to house a fictional character!

On page 78, Mary Kennedy and Professor Barnes are looking at a map of Orange, Durham, Alamance, Chatham, and Churchill counties of North Carolina. These are all real counties of NC except for Churchill! Churchill County is where the Visitors' crivit experiment is taking place.

Page 81 mentions the Visitors giving Peter and the other arrested students an EEG. An EEG is an electroencephalograph, which measures the electrical activity of the brain. 

Page 81 mentions the North Carolina National Bank. This was a real bank at the time which has since acquired the Bank of America company and changed it's branches to the BofA name.

Page 81 also mentions Papagayo's restaurant on Franklin Street. This appears to be a real business.

On pages 87-89, the Visitors Darin and Freda kill and eat a verlog, a mammal apparently from their homeworld. It is described as "...the size of a very large house cat. It had short fur, and face like a rabbit's, but with small, round ears. Its feet had short but strong claws like a squirrel's, and its legs seemed as adapted to tree climbing as to ground walking."

On page 93, Mark says he and his group have always assumed that the Visitors were taking their prisoners to someplace like Florida or Mississippi. Why those states? Possibly this is a reference back to the Freedom Network Report in "The Dissident", where Howard K. Smith reports on a raid on one of the Visitors' detention camps in Florida. Is there also a well-known Visitor work camp in Mississippi?

Page 109 mentions the Porthole Restaurant and the Evergreen House. The Porthole Restaurant is a real eatery in Chapel Hill and Evergreen House is a building on the UNC campus.

On page 110, Barnes reflects that, while red is still a popular clothing color among humans, the particular red shade of the Visitor uniforms is not one that is worn.

Page 118 reveals that crivit blood is green.

Among other plant growths, page 127 mentions one called hearts-a-bustin'. This is an actual wild shrub that produces small reddish-purple fruit (about the size of a strawberry), bursting with large, orange seeds.

Page 131 mentions highway 54 in the RTP. This is a real highway.

Pages 145 and 173 suggest that verlogs are the chief food source of the Visitors on the ships and possibly on their homeworld as well, because they breed fairly quickly and are efficient in converting the vegetable matter they eat into the growth of their own bodies.

On page 150, Durk mentions U.S. highway 56. This appears to be a fictional route in the fictional Churchill County (although there is a real U.S. 56 running from Kansas City, MO to Springer, NM).

On page 150, the Visitors load Professor Barnes onto a skyfighter sitting in the parking lot of the Eastgate shopping center. This is a real shopping center in Chapel Hill.

Page 152 suggests the Visitors use the prisoner work camps not just for human labor but as a way to plump the humans up as food. (This is somewhat similar to Camp Lakka in "Alien Conflict" as well.) Is this also what was really going on in the work camp in "Breakout"?

Reporting on their examination of the dead crivit brought back, Penny and Joann state that the creatures appear to be sexually mature at birth and the females are capable of carrying a reservoir of a male's semen in their bodies for later fertilizations of eggs.

Page 155 mentions the town of Carrboro. This is a real town just west of Chapel Hill.

Page 165 mentions Pittsboro. This is a real town located about 30 miles west of Raleigh, North Carolina.

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