You may not realize that Twilight author Stephenie Meyer wrote another novel that sounds far crazier than her sparkly vampire series, but The Host is exactly that novel. The 2008 tale seems like a riff on Heinlein’s The Puppet Masters (and several other stories) as it describes altruistic alien parasites called Souls (seriously) that attach themselves to host bodies — in this case humans — and then make their society all great and stuff. Imagine the monolith from 2001, but far more active, and you’re probably on the right track.

The book was optioned some time ago and has been developed as an indie with Stephenie Meyer offering a lot of input. Scripting is Andrew Niccol (Gattaca, Now). He was once set to direct, and likely will in fact make the film. When he does, it looks like he’ll have Saoirse Ronan in the central role of a girl who rejects the probing tendrils of her own personal alien parasite.

Deadline reports the casting and offers up a plot synopsis so magnificently bugfuck that my fingers detached from my hands and tapped out Ctrl-a, Ctrl-c, Ctrl-v all on their own while I watched from across the room:

Melanie Stryder [is] one of the last humans putting up a fight against an alien species called Souls. These parasites invade human bodies, fuse to each person’s consciousness and systematically erase their personalities. Melanie is captured by the aliens and implanted by a Soul called Wanderer, something of a legend because of all of the “hosts” she has attached to on numerous planets. Wanderer’s goal is to get Melanie to give up the remaining pockets of humans, but instead the alien finds Melanie to be unique in her unwillingness to surrender her consciousness. Wanderer is so overwhelmed by Melanie’s memories and feelings, the alien is driven to reconnect with Melanie’s old life.

Saoirse Ronan will have a bit of a challenge in the film, as she’ll play both Melanie and Wanderer. How does one play an alien parasite described as a silvery centipede? Good question, but we’ll probably end up seeing visualizations of Wanderer’s own projected consciousness. As acting challenges go, it might be pretty cool stuff, and I can see the result being worth a look for that aspect alone. (Especially if Andrew Niccol really does sign to direct.) Still…

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