My novelization of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes will be published April 14th, 2023. “We can’t wait that long!” people are shrieking. “Please, please, for the love of all that is holy, at least give us a teaser! Something to get us through these endless lonely nights as we await your masterpiece! We’ll do anything, no matter how demeaning or illegal! Please!”
Fine. Here’s the preface…
On October 8th, 1978, a motion picture was released that would change cinema history forever. Attack of the Killer Tomatoes was met with instant critical acclaim, with Leonard Maltin proclaiming that “it makes Casablanca look like Exorcist II: The Heretic.” Siskel & Ebert suggested that they would need thumb-enhancement surgery to sufficiently convey the intensity of their two thumbs up. (Though Ebert backed out, Siskel did in fact get the surgery, spending the remainder of his life with a grotesquely oversized thumb that was prone to infection.) When critic Pauline Kael wrote a review giving it a mere three stars out of four, suggesting that it wasn’t quite as amazing as everybody said, readers were so enraged that they burned down her home with her still inside, and she remains dead to this day.
Attack of the Killer Tomatoes was nominated for nine Academy Awards but only won five, including Best Foreign Language Film, a category it qualified in because of the language spoken by the tomatoes. The previous year, Star Wars had won an Oscar for Visual Effects; in an unprecedented move, the award was rescinded, because the sheer spectacle of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes made Academy voters realize that George Lucas’ film was unworthy of the honor.
Even today, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes (hereafter abbreviated to Attack of…Killer Tomatoes) tops almost every list of the finest motion pictures ever produced. While classics like Gone with the Wind have lost their luster, Attack of…Killer Tomatoes is timeless, revealing new layers of thematic depth with every viewing. It’s not just that the tomatoes are a metaphor. It’s that every individual tomato is a separate metaphor.
And yet there has never been a novelization.
Pulitzer-prize winning author James Michener had been hired to write one, but found the project too challenging and returned his seven-figure advance after three years of struggle. The project circulated through the publishing community for decades. Judy Blume claimed to have finished it, but an FBI raid on her home revealed that she had only written half of the first chapter. The world became despondent. It is said that Queen Elizabeth II threatened to “start chopping off some [expletive deleted] heads if I don’t get my [expletive deleted] tomato novel,” though some scholars feel this is apocryphal.
My first involvement with the project came about twenty years ago, when I had a meeting with the movie’s screenwriters, Costa Dillon, John DeBello, and Steve Peace to discuss writing a book version of their masterpiece. They laughed in my face. I mean that they said, “Move your face closer…closer…a little closer…there you go!” and then literally laughed in it. Flecks of spittle from all three of them struck my nose and chin. I walked out of the meeting with tears of shame burning their way down my cheeks like rivers of lava.
I vowed revenge, then remembered that I’m too lazy for such things. I forgot all about it until last year, when I made an astonishing discovery: a novelization had been written and never published.
Yes, Ebeneezer Tomatobookwriter had written it in 1979. (“Tomatobookwriter” was his real name, and it actually dates back to the 16th century. Ebezeener told me that he didn’t even notice the coincidence until he was nearly finished with the book.)
When I visited his home, he showed me the manuscript, bound in gold.
“Why didn’t you ever publish it?” I asked.
“It would always be my greatest achievement,” he explained. “I couldn’t let my career peak so soon. I needed to wait until I knew it would be my final work.”
“Are you near death?” I asked.
“Oh, goodness no,” he said. “I’ve got at least thirty or forty more years in me.”
And in that moment I asked myself: was I prepared to take a human life? For the third time? Yes, indeed I was. I beat Ebeneezer Tomatobookwriter to death with the very manuscript you’re reading right now.
As I write these words, I’ll admit that I’m questioning the wisdom of confessing to first degree murder right here in the preface. Also, maybe I shouldn’t be blabbing that I’m trying to pass a dead man’s work off as my own. I might regret it later. But I’m feeling kind of privileged and invulnerable, and I don’t feel like rewriting this whole thing, so I will let it stand.
Anyway, here it is, the novelization of Attack of…Killer Tomatoes, hereafter expanded to Attack of the Killer Tomatoes to boost the word count. I hope you enjoy it, and I will wallow in despair if you don’t.
Beardmore Glacier, Antarctica
Attack of the Killer Tomatoes is available for pre-order from the retailer of your choice. But if you want it two weeks early, for 35% off, order by December 2nd directly from the publisher, Encyclopocalypse Publications and use coupon code BLACKFRIDAY2022.
(Two paperback editions available, trade and mass market! Yes, you can get it in a version that looks like it was published in 1978, complete with B&W movie stills!)
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