Aaron Bunce's Reviews > Alien: Out of the Shadows

Alien by Tim Lebbon
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it was amazing

Alien (the original movie) shaped my understanding and appreciation for science fiction very early on. I loved Cameron's follow up, Aliens (although I concede that I was a little disappointed with the incredibly linear direction he took to the story, as well as the reduction of the Xenomorph to "bugs" essentially).

I became a rabid fan once Fox and Dark Horse started expanding the universe, gobbling up every Alien comic book and canon novel I could get my hands on. The direction of the movie series disheartened me, as Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection showed an inherent lack of focus, and a desire, by the studio, to cash in on cheap thrills and gore, rendering Ridley Scott's classic, horrifying "Big Chap" monster into something hollow and two dimensional...a slasher flick back guy. Gone was the mystery, the myth, and the subtlety that so actively engaged our imaginations. By the 3rd movie, the Alien was stampeding through a prison colony killing anyone that got in its way. I will always argue with those that defend it - it's bad, and not just for the skin-deep blemishes, but also the flaws right down to the bone, that cheapens and degrades one of sci-fi's foundational monsters. For me, Alien canon ends when Ripley, Hicks, Newt, and half of Bishop return to cryo after surviving LV426 and the stowaway queen.

Enter Alien: Out of the Shadows. Due to a hiatus from the series, I only recently became away of these books, Out of the Shadows, Sea of Sorrow, and River of Pain. I purchased River of Pain in softcover not realizing that it was the 3rd canon novel, so I decided to go back to the beginning and start with Out of the Shadows. I noticed the audiobook in audible, but wait, it was more than simply an audiobook. It was an ensemble production, by Audible Studios no less. After giving the sample a quick listen, I dove in.

First off, the production is top notch. Audio quality is excellent, sounds effects drive you right back into the Alien universe, and they spared no expense on the cast - even locking up Rutger Hauer. The story pulls us into an altogether different world, LV178, where we finally get to expand the canvas. (NO spoilers). The commercial mining support vessel, Marion, is orbiting the planet, where an active Traminite mine expands into a "natural" void underground and stumbles onto something. Gee I wonder what!

I loved that this story gave us enough taste of what made Alien so horrifying originally, but dared to step foot off LV426, and even teased us with some revelations buried deep underground. Scott oversimplified the "space jockey", attempting to explain them away as humanoid engineers in Prometheus. I think he really dropped the ball there, and could have spun some really interesting backstory and depth. This book feels like it is pushing back against Scott's vision in Prometheus, and I have to admit that I am glad it does. My only complaint with the production is the delivery of details, and this isn't the fault of any of the performers, or directors. In order to adapt this to theatrical audio, the script had to be rendered down and altered, so many of the details we would otherwise read and digest ourselves, have to be performed for us. Even after listening to Alien: Out of the Shadows, I want to pick up a copy of the book and read through it. I can't help but feel that I will gain a deeper understanding of the story, and the significance embedded within it. I was also nervous when they brought Ripley into the mix, as this story falls 37 years after Alien, and 20 before Aliens. There was some creative story elements in play to explain it, and in the end it worked. yes, most of it was a little too convenient, but it didn't hurt the story in the end.

Is Alien: Out of the Shadows going to hold the same appeal to non-Alien fans? No. If you have never seen Alien or Aliens, or you weren't a fan, then this probably isn't the book for you. Does this feel like fan service? It sure does, but like mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving, I will hold up my plate and enthusiastically ask for seconds. In the end, Out of the Shadows provides a quality extension to the Alien universe. It is a far more palatable follow up than Alien 3, Resurrection, AVP, or AVP Requiem. I only hope they take the breadcrumbs they spread out for us in this novel, and lead us a little deeper down that bio-mechanical looking rabbit hole.

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Reading Progress

February 1, 2017 – Started Reading
February 1, 2017 – Shelved
February 2, 2017 –
February 6, 2017 – Finished Reading

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