The third season of Stranger Things isn't due out until summer 2019, but there's a new book on the way to help fill that Eggo-sized hole in the meantime. This February, Penguin will release its first official Stranger Things novel, called Suspicious Minds— but instead of giving us another story about Will's increasingly shitty life haunted by interdimensional beasts or whatever, the book will take us back to the 1960s to fill in some of the gaps about Eleven's origin story.
According to Entertainment Weekly, which posted an exclusive look at the first chapter of Suspicious Minds on Thursday, the upcoming novel is written by YA author Gwenda Bond and will dig into the history of Eleven and the government tests that turned her into some kind of preteen telekinetic wizard and drove her mother, Terry Ives, crazy.
As we know from the show already, this whole mess began after a college-aged Terry signed up to be part of the CIA's covert MK-Ultra tests. It's a plot unapologetically ripped from the Stephen King book Firestarter, but it's also based, at least somewhat, in reality. MK-Ultra was a real top secret, Cold War-era CIA project that began in the mid-50s, focused mostly on administering LSD and psychedelic drugs to test subjects for research on mind control and interrogation techniques.
The historical MK-Ultra didn't yield any big results for the CIA—aside from inadvertently inspiring Ken Kesey to kickstart the hippie movement—and didn't create a new string of mutant superchildren either, as far as we know. But the MK-Ultra of Suspicious Minds sounds significantly more sinister than its real-life version.
The first chapter follows Dr. Brenner, the guy Eleven calls "Papa" in the show, as he orders his staff of scientists to find him some MK-Ultra test subjects "with potential," who we can only assume will wind up being Terry Ives.
“All the test subjects I met this morning can be dismissed.” He waved a hand. “Pay them whatever they were promised and ensure they remember their nondisclosure agreements.”
The room absorbed this. One of the conversationalists from before raised his hand. “Doctor?”
“My name is Chad and I’m new to this, but… why? How will we do our experiments?”
“Why is always a question that moves science forward,” Dr. Brenner said. Chad the newbie nodded, and Brenner added, “Although one should be careful about asking it of your superiors. But I will tell you why. It’s important we all understand what we’re here to do. Does anyone have a guess?”
His treatment of Chad kept them quiet. He thought for a moment the woman might speak up, but she simply folded her hands in front of her.
“Good,” he said. “I don’t like guesswork. We’re here to advance the frontiers of human capability. I don’t want the common Mus musculus of humans. They are not going to give us extraordinary results.” He swept a gaze around the room. Everyone was intent. “I’m sure you’ve heard of some of the foibles elsewhere and your own lack of results are why I’m here. There have been embarrassments, and a great many of them can be sourced to inadequate subjects. Whoever thought prisoners and the asylum-bound would tell us anything we need to know were fooling themselves. Draft dodgers and potheads aren’t any better. I have a few more young patients transferring here for a related program, but I’d like a range of ages. There is every reason to believe that a combination of chemical psychedelics, people with high potential, and the right inducements can unlock the secrets we need. Think of the intelligence advantages alone if we can persuade our enemies to talk, if we can make them suggestible and exert control… But we can’t get the results we want without the right people, period. We need those with potential.”
Give the entire first chapter a read over at Entertainment Weekly and keep your eyes peeled for a brief appearance of a young Kali, or Eight, who Eleven meets in Pittsburgh during season two. The book is set to hit shelves early next year.
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