Last night, we attempted to offer a pal of ours some reassurance. He’s expecting his first kid this summer, and he naturally has mixed feelings about what the future holds in store—the unabashed joy of ushering new life onto Planet Earth, of course, but also the loss of a whole bunch of personal autonomy for the next 18 years. We did our best to tell him that the pluses vastly outweigh the minuses, but he sort of scoffed at our sweet words. People who wax rhapsodic about the pleasures of parenting, he boldly suggested, reminded him of brainwashed cult members.
At that very moment, our thoughts turned back to one of our formative literary experiences: the serialized comic version of The White Mountains, which appeared in Boy’s Life in the early 1980s. For a magazine frequently lampooned for its wholesomeness, the series represented a terrifying departure from the norm. Forget about the book’s alien invasion theme for the moment; what really freaked us out about The White Mountains was the description of “capping,” by which young teenagers were turned into zombies by sinister cyborg overlords. As noted in the outtake above, the biggest juvenile rebel would become a veritable cog-in-the-machine after being capped—an awful fate that didn’t escape the notice of the book’s young heroes, who choose to rebel against this de facto lobotomization.
That said, the capped were rewarded with bliss. And they in turn became the community leaders who assured future capees that the process was not to be feared. We have to hand it to The Tripods—they took a page out of the human-perpetuation playbook, and ran with it.
(h/t The Haunted Closet)