February 15, 2014
Alien: Out of The Shadows
Alien: Out of the Shadows Tim Lebbon: Titan Books, 2014. 352 pp. $7.99. ISBN: 978-1781162682
Ever wondered what really happened to Ripley, Jonesy and Ash in the 57 years between Alien and Aliens? If so, then this novel is for you.
New York Times best selling author Tim Lebbon has taken up the task of filling in that blank space, giving scope and insight into the missing years with the first of a three part, fully authorized novelization. Alien: Out of the Shadows is the first of the novels and a really good read.
I’m usually very skeptical about books written “in the world of” because I liked those worlds and don’t want to have them ruined in my mind. I give them a wide berth, but those missing years have always bothered me, so I gave in and accepted the challenge. Even though I approached this novel with some hesitation, I wasn’t able to put it down. I read the whole thing in two days and felt myself to be transported back into the dark, gritty world of Alien beings—face-hugging, resin-building, chest-bursting aliens.
The novel centers around Ripley, which is expected, and even more so, Christopher “Hoop” Hooper, senior engineer and de facto captain of the mining ship Marion. An emergency in space, 37 years after the disaster aboard the Nostromo, brings them together to hunt and be hunted by the Xenomorphs, the aliens that haunt Ripley’s dreams.
Of course, the traitorous android Ash has hitched a ride and is still trying to fulfill the mission given to him by the ominous and somewhat evil Weyland-Yutani Corporation—to bring back any alien life force encountered, at any cost.
Ripley and Hoop find themselves fighting a battle on four sides: the aliens, the android, the awesome implacability of space itself, and sometimes, even their own shipmates. The action is non-stop, and written so well that you can see Sigourney Weaver’s facial expressions in the descriptions.
For those of you over there thinking “… Ripley didn’t do anything in that time between, and Ash was melted into slag by a flame thrower,” TRY AGAIN! Lebbon has given us a much better, and more believable answer to the missing time.
Ripley and Hoop share more than just a fear of face-hugging soul suckers, they share psychological damage at leaving their children behind, a feeling of responsibility to their shipmates and humanity at large, and a burgeoning feeling of romance and chemistry between them.
The Alien movie franchise made a huge impression on me. Granted the first one came out the year I was nine, but I watched it then and it stuck. So much so that when I was pregnant and my child moved, all I could think about was the alien bursting out of that guy’s chest. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep a lot that night. The end result, though, was a world that never quite left my thoughts, and Lebbon has masterfully added to that world, bringing it to life and giving it a depth that only a novel can.
I’m eagerly awaiting the second novel in this series (Alien: Sea of Sorrows by James A. Moore) due to be release in July of this year.
Image Credit: Titan Books