The Alien series may be stalled right now, not counting the semi Alien prequel Prometheus, but when word came out that a new series of books, based on the original movies were coming out, I just had to get my hands on a copy. Titan Books was kind enough to send me a review copy of Alien: Out of the Shadows and I can tell you right now, don’t hesitate picking this book up, as it’s fantastic! Taking place between Alien and Aliens, Out of the Shadows manages to inject new life into the Alien series and does so without stepping on any of the previous films continuity…
Published: 2014 Pages: 352
Short nitty-gritty plot description from the back cover is as follows: As a child, Chris Hooper dreamed of monsters. But in deep space, he found only darkness and isolation. Then on planet LV178, he and his fellow miners discovered a storm-scoured, sand blasted hell–and trimonite, the hardest material known to man.
When a shuttle crashes into the mining ship Marion, the miners learn that there was more than trimonite deep in the caverns. There was evil, hibernating–and waiting for suitable prey.
Hoop and his associates uncover a nest of Xenomorphs, and hell takes on new meaning. Quickly they discover that their only hope lies with the unlikeliest of saviors…
Ellen Ripley, the last human survivor of the salvage Nostromo.
Tatlock’s Quick ‘n Dirty Recap: Chris Hoop is working as an Engineer on the mining ship Marion, above the untitled planet LV-178, when sudden circumstances on LV-178 involving Xenomorphs, cause another ship to crash into the Marion. As the ship is spiraling slowly down towards the planet, Hoop and some remaining survivors find the Narcissus, that houses Ellen Ripley, suddenly docking their ship, without any explanation. She is brought on board, woken up and to no one’s surprise, finds herself fairly unhappy that aliens are involved. She reluctantly agrees to help the survivors try to get off the failing ship, but this requires heading down to LV-178 to gather supplies from the mine, the same mine where the mining colony first encountered the deadly Xenomorphs.
Tatlock’s Opinion: First thing I thought going in, was how the hell is author Tim Lebbon going to explain how Ripley was woken up way before the events of Aliens, encounters a bunch of Xenos and people and doesn’t remember a damn thing? Thankfully, albeit thanks to a few convenient plot devices, Lebbon manages to easily place Out of the Shadows perfectly into the official timeline of the Alien series, without raising any eyebrows. Out of the Shadows has a really interesting idea on why Ripley’s ship randomly docks the Marion and come the end, you’ll be more than happy how everything is wrapped up and begging for more after the last page is read.
As for the story of Out of the Shadows, it’s like Lebbon took all the interesting ideas of Alien and Aliens and mashed them together into one story, that kept me up all night, flipping the pages. It’s never boring and in fact, brings a lot more questions into play, which I hope are answered in the next two books in the trilogy, Alien: Sea of Sorrows, written by James A. Moore and Alien: River of Pain, written by Christopher Golden. When Ripley and Co. head to the planet, what they encounter begs to be explained further, as it’s a ton of information and new ideas thrown at you, but the book doesn’t have time to explain any of it. In fact, the characters in the story want to know more, but even they say there is no time. Too bad.
Verdict: The time between Alien and Aliens seemed pretty cut and dry; Ripley slept for 57 years and that’s it. However, Alien: Out of the Shadows proves that given the talent, an idea can be formed that expands on the mythology, without ruining anything that came before it. The book might have sped through some of it’s ideas a little too quickly and the reasoning behind why Ripley doesn’t recall having fought aliens on a different planet, seemed a little too convenient, but overall, Lebbon weaves a Xenomorph-ridden thrill ride, that perfectly slides into the established canon of the everlasting Alien series.
Rating: 4.5/5 (-0.5 for not explaining more of the history behind what they found on the planet; hopefully the next books do and finally the reason why Ripley doesn’t remember might seem a little too convenient for some.)