Sunday, January 20, 2013

My Favorite Martian Bloghop: The Alien Doppelganger

A big thanks and a bag of M&Ms to Maurice Mitchell from The Geek Twins for hosting My Favorite Martian Bloghop. Today I'm sharing about an alien that caught my interest.

Many years ago, I watched Alfred Hitchcock's "The Case of Mr. Pelham." Pelham, a single businessman, finds people mistaking him for someone else who looks exactly like him. This lookalike masquerades as Pelham by showing up all around town, appearing at his workplace, and living in his home, all while the real Pelham is elsewhere. The impostor has everyone, including his peers, secretary, and butler fooled. Freaking out, Pelham changes his style of ties to throw the impostor off. But this strategy backfires. At the end of the story, Pelham finally confronts the doppelganger at his home- and we see his duplicate is a more polished version of himself- and the butler decides his real employer would never wear a tie like Pelham's. So he aligns with the impostor.


"There's an agency more than human here," Pelham says when he realizes that the doppelganger, who he compares to an alien, has successfully stolen his identity and his life.

The real Pelham is eventually declared insane.

When I watch TV shows or movies about aliens, I find the fear of an alien presence is often a metaphor for the fear of something else- a foreign power, for example.


The alien doppelganger in "The Case of Mr. Pelham" draws on our fears of encountering someone we perceive as an upgraded version of who we are, and then being displaced by this person. Just when you're enjoying the attention of being the hottest person at the bar, someone hotter walks in. You have a tight social circle- maybe you're the one who tells the best jokes or you throw the best parties- and then someone swoops in with better jokes or better parties, and  your peers begin to overlook you. You have high hopes for your steam punk zombie romance novel- you think it could even be made into a movie someday. But someone else publishes a steam punk zombie romance novel at the same time you do, and while your book sales are lagging, their book ends up on a bestseller list. 


Alien or non-alien doppelgangers, when written well, have also enticed me as a reader. Off the top of my head, I'm listing a few books where lookalikes are used in plot twists: Lois Duncan's STRANGER WITH MY FACE, William Sleator's THE DUPLICATE, Robert Louis Stevenson's THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE, and Neil Gaiman's CORALINE. These stories show that doppelgangers aren't always necessarily an upgraded version of a character. We need those "evil twin" stories as reminders to keep our code of ethics in check. (Although in "The Case of Mr. Pelham," the doppelganger was both "evil" and an improved version of Pelham.)

If I have a doppelganger who wants to be me, she and I can co-exist peacefully if she can nail the house chores and my WIP revisions while I'm at the spa.

Can you think of other books, movies, or TV shows with doppelgangers, alien or non-alien?

What would you do if you discover you have a doppelganger? How about a doppelganger who's trying to pass themselves off as you?

49 comments:

Sci-Fi Gene said...

Mr. Pelham is a great example. Of recent movies my favourite spin on the doppelgänger plot is "Moon" although technically this isn't exactly about aliens.

Trisha said...

I've been told before that I have a doppelgänger, only to meet the person in question and think... "They don't look like me at all!" But I actually kind of do have a doppelgänger in the form of one of my aunties. Her toddler pics look identical to me, and my mum was even fooled into thinking the one of her was of me :)

Great post for the blogfest, and thanks for stopping by! I haven't read any of those books, or seen that movie! But I think I'll put them on my TBR!

Jeremy [Retro-Z] said...

I liked this post choice... we all have two of us, sometimes they are not crazy.

Stephen Tremp said...

Great choice! I use the dopplganger concept in my next book, although its the real characters who invade the doppleganger's world. A bit if a twist there.

Natasha Dythia said...

I love the doppelganger choice - that would be creepy in my opinion....but my husband would like it.

http://justadashofgeek.com

Donna K. Weaver said...

I remember that episode. I've always loved the doppelganger idea. One of my favs was a Classic Star Trek episode where Kirk is split into two during a transporter mishap, but no one realizes it. One is is "good" side and one is his "bad" side. The real problem came about when his good side couldn't make hard decisions. He needed that tougher bad side. It was an interesting commentary on the different aspects of human nature.

Jeff Hargett said...

I'm not sure I remember seeing this "The Case of Mr. Pelham" but it does sound interesting and something like Hitchcock would create.

Mark Means said...

Hello from the blog hop!

An extremely interesting choice in doppelgangers as well as a bit frightening.

You never know where they may be hiding :)

Liesel K Hill said...

Creepy! Leave it to Hitchcock. :D My Martian Post. Happy Monday!

Tamara said...

The first movie that springs to mind with doppleganger's is that old Michael Keeton film, Multiplicity--in that particular case the guy deliberately cloned himself to help out in his life. Very funny movie! Great post. :)

M Pax said...

Ooo! I love your choices. I really enjoy Hitchcock films.

Todd Reed said...

I love the Mirror Mirror episode with Evil Spock.

scottlukaswilliams said...

The TV series "The Vampire Diaries" has a big doppleganger plot (it's not a great show but not horrible).

Peggy Eddleman said...

Dopplegangers kind of freak me out. I love them in shows, but I wouldn't love to run into one in real life!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Considering people can steal identities online now, that is a scary and real possibility!

Maurice Mitchell said...

Very compelling concept, especially for a twin. Thanks for the hop!

Spacerguy said...

Todd beat me with Mirror, Mirror. The Man Who Haunted Himself played by Roger Moore is an epic hoot.

Chris Kelworth said...

Yes, that's freaky. If my doppleganger didn't get at my meager savings account, I might be interested in trying to travel and start a new life for myself elsewhere, but not sure I'd have the courage for that.

Thanks for blog hopping with us!

Tony Laplume said...

There's a whole Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode that does the doppelganger thing brilliantly. O'Brien is replaced by a replicant who is thoroughly convinced that he's O'Brien himself. Everyone around him knows exactly what he is, but Replicant O'Brien thinks it's just a massive conspiracy against him, because to him he's exactly who he seems to be. A different sort of doppelganger, to be sure, but my favorite such story.

Nicole said...

I like the Doppelgangers that the gang on How I Met Your Mother finds throughout New York. They get pretty creative with it. :)

Melissa Bradley said...

Very cool and intriguing choice. I remember Mr. Pelham. It is one of Hitchcock's best for sure.

Cynthia said...

Sci-Fi Gene: I appreciate stories about doppelgangers even if they're not about aliens.

Trisha: That must've been a very convincing picture!

Jeremy: Ah...like the angel and the devil dancing near our ears...

Stephen: That does sound quite twisty!

Natasha: It was certainly creepy for Pelham.

Donna: Sounds like an interesting episode.

Jeff: Yes, the story is very Hitchcock.

Mark: You never know!

Liesel: Happy Monday to you too!

Tamara: Sounds like something I'd like to see!

Cynthia said...

M. Pax: I like Hitchcock too, though there's still a lot of his stuff I haven't seen yet.

Todd: Thanks for the recommendation.

Scott: Thanks for the recommendation.

Peggy: Thanks for sharing!

Alex: That's a point I hadn't considered!

Maurice: You're welcome!

Spacerguy: Thanks for the recommendation.

Chris: We must guard our savings.

Tony: Imagine being in the doppelganger's shoes. Thanks for the recommendation.

Nicole: I've been watching the show on Netflix...now I know I have that part to look forward to.

Melissa: Thanks!!

Misha Gericke said...

Hey Cynthia! Just want to let you know that you've been nominated for best writing/inspirational blogger. Congrats!

http://sylmion.blogspot.com/2013/01/news-day-week-3-announcing-nominees-and.html

Tyrean Martinson said...

Great post! I've always thought that dopplegangers were either seriously creepy, or very silly - depending on the adaption. I probably would either put mine to work, or tackle them.

Nick Wilford said...

Interesting take on the blogfest. For me, it would definitely be about the fear that my doppelganger would live my life much better than me and be more successful! I've heard a lot about that Hitchcock movie. Need to check it out.

Arlee Bird said...

I thought I'd seen all the Hitchcock TV shows and movies, but I don't remember this one. Sounds like a cool story. I've had an idea for a blog about doppelgangers in my blog composition queue for some time now. I think I have my doubles out there. Hope none would try to horn in on my life though.

Lee
Tossing It Out

Tammy Theriault said...

Great ..... But can I have some m&ms too????

Leigh Covington said...

I love your blog! It's darling!
And great choices for the blogfest. The first one that popped into my mind was Alf. I loved watching that show when I was little. :)

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

As a kid, I had such a vivid imagination that I didn't dare watch a program like Mr. Pelham because I would have had nightmares for a few days. I would dream that I was Pelham and somebody had stolen my life. So, I'm guessing I missed this show on purpose.

The mind of a writer is really a wonderful thing.

Lexa Cain said...

I've always thought most doppleganger stories are kinda silly (except for "Invasion of the Body Snatchers"). No one could pretend to be anyone I know - people are too idiosyncratic.
I really enjoyed reading your post! :-)

Sher A. Hart said...

Kiln People. Limited life disposables in SF meets detective story. Great book by David Brin, if a bit too graphic for my taste. Might have been titled Kill'n people.

BURIED IN BOOKS said...

There was a movie once with Drew Barrymore in it and I think it was called Doppleganger, first time I'd ever heard the word. Her therapist I think was pretending to be her to make her look crazy so he could inherit her millions. I guess he was her guardian or power of attorney or something. It was a long time ago. But he was always seen from a distance and was somewhat effeminate so he passed as her.

I'd want my Doppleganger to do the same as yours. Though I might want to write and have my D. do all the housework, homework, cooking, errands. That would be good. I'd go hang out in book stores and write and soak up dialogue and characters. Yeah, that's what I'd do:) After I got out of bed!

Julie said...

That sounds like a good one. I don't recall seeing that one. I may have because I loved watching Hitchcock but it has been too long. I'll have to search it out. Julie @ http://icreatepurtythangs.blogspot.com

Cynthia said...

Misha: That's awesome! I left a comment on your blog and emailed you.

Tyrean: That's smart to put them to work, keep them out of trouble.

Nick: I can see how you wouldn't want your "duplicate" to outdo you.

Lee: I'd love to read your thoughts about doppelgangers on your blog when you have it ready.

Tammy: Sure, you want a green one?

Leigh: I remember Alf. A real blast from the past!

Joylene: The writers were pretty clever to think up this episode.

Lexa: Thanks for the recommendation.

Sher: Thanks for the recommendation.

Buried in Books: Thanks for the recommendation. The story sounds so twisty!

Julie: I don't remember some of the stuff I've seen years ago either.

Julie Dao said...

Okay, WOW... I love Twilight-Zoney stuff! How scary would it be if your doppelganger came and just took your life away? Maybe it's time to develop a super secret code word with all of my friends and colleagues, just in case ;)

Shannon Lawrence said...

Well, that's just scary! All I can think of off the top of my head is Drew Barrymore's Doppelganger film. I remember the Twilight Zone one, too. I think I'd have to rally as many people behind me as I could convince by using little known information between us. Now, if they knew everything I knew, it would be a lot harder.

Shannon at The Warrior Muse

Daisy Carter said...

If I have a doppelganger who wants to be me, she and I can co-exist peacefully if she can nail the house chores and my WIP revisions while I'm at the spa.

HAHAHA!

If I had a doppelgänger, I'd probably be really petty about it and like, try to sabotage their parties...hmm. Maybe I'm the evil one? :)

Cortney Pearson said...

Interesting. The only doppelganger story I can think of is the Vampire Diaries TV series!!

Adorably Dead said...

Dopplegangers are always creepy. However, saying that, I'd join forces with mine.

Elise Fallson said...

I always thought it'd be interesting if I could meet myself without myself knowing I was me. Does that make any sense? Probably not, I haven't had my coffee yet... I guess I'm saying if I had a doppleganger that not only looked like me but was me in a second Elise skin, I wonder if I'd like spending time with her. Would I laugh at her jokes? Would I even enjoy spending time with her...hummm this is a bit much for my little brain this morning, lol!

Annalisa Crawford said...

Hi Cynthia, just popping over to say thanks for following my blog and to follow yours.

I just can't believe anyone could do as good a job at being me as I can, not even a doppleganger - I'm far too unique for that lol

Romance Reader said...

Dopplegangers? How about Katherine and Elena in The Vampire Diaries!

But on screen when they come face to face is fun to watch, I wonder what I'd do if in reality I faced my doppleganger?

Nas

Tara Tyler said...

twilight zone like! which i like!
pod people!
clones are next fad, betcha!

The Golden Eagle said...

Hmm. I know I've read books with doppelgangers, but I can't think of any off the top of my head.

I'd probably try to get to know my doppelganger if I discovered I had one--unless she was trying to fool people into thinking I was places I wasn't.

Interesting post!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Everyone tells me I have a doppelganger, but I've never met her.

Cynthia said...

Julie: Good idea!

Shannon: In the Pelham story, the doppelganger always seemed to be one step ahead of Pelham, which made things more complicated.

Daisy: Now there's a twist!

Cortney: Thanks for the recommendation.

Adorably Dead: That's one approach!

Elise: These are some insightful ideas.

Annalisa: So you have nothing to worry about!

Nas: Thanks for the recommendation.

Tara: We may be onto something!

The Golden Eagle: Got to keep our enemies close, LOL.

L.Diane: I'd be curious to know your experience with this person once you do.

lbdiamond said...

Ha! This is great!!

David P. King said...

I'm super late on this, but those are great choices! :)

Post a Comment