I’m a HUGE fan of the Alien movies — yes, the first movie will always be my favorite, but the other three all have their defining moments for the canon. And while I still believe there are plenty of places for the movie franchise to go (and I’m not counting the Prometheus franchise, although I’m excited to know it’s continuing), I’m happy passing the time with the occasional books/comics that continue to fill the void.
If you’re a fan as well, you’ll definitely want to check out two new books that have just been released by Titan Books… and a third that is due to hit shelves in a few more weeks.
Alien: Sea of Sorrows by James A. Moore
This is the second official novel approved by 20th Century Fox, and once again it provides a completely new story that takes place in Ellen Ripley’s world filled with corporate greed, terraforming, high-tech marines, and one of the most dangerous alien species ever encountered by humans. (The first novel, Alien: Out of the Shadows by Tim Lebbon, was set between the incidents of Alien and Aliens — you can read my review here, but beware it does have some spoilers.)
With Sea of Sorrow, the story is set 318 years after Ripley destroyed the Nostromo. One of her descendants, Alan Decker, has a job checking out terraformed planets and fixing issues when colonists report problems. And LV178 has a big problem… its soil has turned toxic. Weyland-Yutani has billions invested in the planet, but before Decker can figure out the issue an accident sends him back to Earth. (Note: LV178 is the same planet featured in Out of the Shadows that takes place about 300 years earlier.)
Decker also has a unique talent, one that W-Y has figured out and intends to take advantage of with respect to LV178. The company manages to both kidnap and extort at the same time, sending him back to LV178 where something unusual has been discovered beneath the surface. This being an Alien book, of course, you can pretty much guess where the story goes from here.
What I most enjoyed about Sea of Sorrow was how closely it channels the first two movies — mixes of solo terror followed by heavily armed mercenaries battling it out with an onslaught of aliens coming out of the walls. No Colonial Marines this time… Decker and a group of mercenaries are on their own and fighting for their lives. The writing is fast and tense, and because of previous knowledge of the movies and the aliens and their methods, there’s a solid creep factor scattered evenly throughout the book and more interesting tidbits of W-Y and its business-dealings being developed. It’s a fun read, and doesn’t manage to contradict anything from the movies while still adding some new details in the ongoing battle with the xenomorphs. (Note: Of interest to fans will be discovering how this story fits into what comes next — namely, the events of the fourth movie, Alien Resurrection.)
When it’s time to introduce some new coffee table books to your home, toss this bad boy out there and give your visitors something much more interesting to flip through and read. This 318-page full color and oversized hardback offers up some of the best commentary and behind-the-scenes information related to all four movies.
Opening with an interview with Sigourney Weaver, the book proceeds (in order) to share the development details behind each movie. I thought I knew a lot about these movies, but this book still managed to provide me with completely new details, including a number of photos, sketches, and other imagery that I’ve never seen elsewhere.
There’s a lot here — missing scenes, details on storylines that never developed, H.R. Giger artwork, costume and weapon details, and secrets revealed by the films’ directors that provide better understandings of many of the fan-favorite plot decisions and scenes. Large, beautiful two-page spreads combined with candid photos of the cast and crew and numerous schematics of the ships and vehicles… and again… all in full color.
Just amazing stuff, and definitely a book that no Alien fan will want to miss.
At the end of November, the third novel approved by 20th Century Fox, Alien: River of Pain, will be released, and it’s supposed to tell the story of the colonists on LV426 and their fight with the aliens, including how one little girl managed to survive “with no weapons and no training…” Cannot wait.
Also on the horizon (as soon as I can grab some free time) is to play the new Alien: Isolation video game that puts players in the role of Amanda, Ellen Ripley’s daughter. The game has been getting rave reviews, so I’m hoping to get some play time over the upcoming holidays.
Dark Horse has been releasing a number of comic books lately that pull together Alien, Aliens, Prometheus, and Alien vs Predator… four different titles that wrap together and tell a larger story in the Fire and Stone storyline. The storylines aren’t close to finishing yet, but I’m hoping to do a follow-up review once all the stories are complete and I can understand what’s happening on this much larger scale.
Finally, if you’ve got a Costco membership, you might get lucky and find the Alien Quadrilogy Blu-Ray for $20.00 in the stacks. All four films, with the various cuts/editions included as well. I’m looking forward to seeing the Extended Version of Aliens again very soon.
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