The truth really is out there

For legions of fans, all it took to keep the faith alive was a poster, growing dusty and tattered over the years, with a now-iconic image of a UFO and the familiar phrase: “I Want to Believe.”

Now, 13 years after going off the air in 2002, renegade FBI Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully—the believer and the skeptic—are coming back in six new episodes of The X-Files. Sure, there were two forays on to the big screen, 1998’s The X-Files: Fight the Future and 2008’s The X-Files: I Want to Believe (most true X-Philes actually want to forget about that second one), but fans have waited for over a decade to see Mulder and Scully back where they belong—chasing aliens and uncovering government conspiracies on the small screen.

With the glorious invention that is Netflix, it’s possible to make your own playlist of favorite episodes to watch (and re-watch) from the show’s nine-season run depending on your mood (want to forget a bad day at work? Try Bad Blood from season five, Arcadia from season six, and season four’s Small Potatoes) but fans will have wait a bit longer for the new exploits of David Duchovny’s Mulder and Gillian Anderson’s Scully. Series creator Chris Carter and Fox executives are tight-lipped about when the show will return but it’s safe to assume it won’t be any time before 2016.

In between memorizing all the times Scully says “Mulder, it’s me” (for a handy reference guide to becoming the ultimate X-Files geek, check out these lists) fans can hit the books for their X-Files fix with these four titles.

Because Scully Wrote It: A Vision of Fire by Gillian Anderson (with Jeff Rovin)

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Of course Scully wrote a book. Featuring a Manhattan psychiatrist, Anderson’s thriller, co-written with genre veteran Rovin (Vespers, etc.), starts small and ends big: a teenager witnesses an assassination attempt that has repercussions around the globe. The heroine, much like Anderson’s no-nonsense Scully, is a formidable one and a part any reader could imagine Anderson inhabiting. And if you have any doubts on that, just try the audio version, where Anderson reads her own book.

Because Mulder Wrote It: Holy Cow: A Modern-Day Dairy Tale by David Duchovny

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Not to be outdone by his partner, Mulder also took up his pen. And wrote about cows. Funny cows. In his Orwellian world, Elsie Bovary and her BFF Mallory are just a couple of bovines munching on the cud of life until they decide to shake things up and escape from their pasture. From there, all hell breaks loose. They form a posse with a pig who’s recently converted to Judaism and a flightless turkey with a knack for iPhones and go on an adventure that’s both insane and eerily plausible. There’s plenty of Mulder’s dry wit visible in Elsie’s pop culture-dropping narration. And make whatever connections you like with the season two episode of The X-Files entitled “Red Museum,” featuring a strange Wisconsin butcher and a vegetarian cult.

Because Mulder and Scully Would Investigate It: Part I The Fever by Megan Abbott

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Raise your hand if you think, in the 13 years they’ve been absent from your television, that Mulder and Scully have sat at home—yes, obviously they live together—and taken up knitting. No one? Good answer. There’s no way that these two inquisitive minds could stay away from some of the juiciest unexplained phenomena to hit the (fictional) news, particularly the strange spate of fits felling teenage girls in Typical American Town in Megan Abbott’s spooky 2014 novel, The Fever. First Lise, then Gabby collapse at school and no one knows why—maybe it’s the toxic lake, maybe there are pesticides in the air, or maybe it’s the sex (cue parental handwringing). Could be that they’re all hysterical? Just imagine Mulder’s slideshow in the agents’ musty basement office, with Scully rattling off any number of medical conditions that could cause the girls’ behavior and Mulder countering with cases of other unexplained illnesses tied to alleged alien abductions.

Because Mulder and Scully Would Investigate It: Part II When We Were Animals by Joshua Gaylord

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Another Typical American Town with teenager issues. Another case perfect for Mulder and Scully. This one seems tailor-made for Mulder: every month, during the full moon, the teens of this quiet town go a little wild. They don’t just drink and party. They “breach”: it’s a full-on orgy, a cycle of sex and violence that starts at puberty and lasts a few months. A very select few, like narrator Lumen Fowler, never breach. Or so they say. Everything about this case has “Mulder! Investigate me!” stamped all over it, from the remote, almost incestuous nature of the town, to the inexplicable nature of the breaching—no one can explain its purpose or even when it began. And, like all the best X-Files episodes, there’s a logical (read: Scully) explanation for everything, if you look hard enough. It’s right when Wild Mulder Theory Boulevard and Logical Scully Street merge into one and go around a blind curve that things really get interesting.

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Jordan is a freelance writer living in Portland, Oregon, after spending six years in NYC for college and graduate school (where she earned her MFA in Fiction Writing from Columbia) before realizing that her heart belonged in the Pacific Northwest. She (hopefully) puts that degree to good use writing for BookTrib and Publishers Weekly about the vast quantity of books she reads. While Jordan’s literary diet is largely crime fiction—as she was raised, often literally, in Portland’s only mystery bookstore—she’s perfectly content to read novels and nonfiction that lack a murder because good writing transcends labels. Follow her on Twitter @jordanfoster13.