After finishing the excellent Alien novelization, the only obvious thing to do, was start right into the next novelization of the series, which thankfully is once again written by the very talented Alan Dean Foster, Aliens. This time around though, there are a few changes from the movie, which result in some unwanted negatives towards the overall enjoyment of the novel. Thankfully though, most of the good stuff is still there and Foster is still able to crank out a tale that left my eyes attached to each page. So, without further ado, let’s stop our grinnin’ and drop our linen!
Published: 1986 Pages: 247
Short nitty-gritty plot description from the back cover is as follows: Now there’s a whole planet of them, waiting…
Ripley is going back… the sole survivor of the terror that struck her space comrades years ago, she now steels herself to help lead an expedition to the hell she once escaped.
For on a planet far from Earth, alien beings swarm, hungry for the human face, ready to make the human race their nesting ground. Here waits the ultimate nightmare of Alien, hundreds of times stronger, more insidious, and practically invincible.
Here Ripley must re-enter a world of sudden, unspeakable horror… one that attacks without warning again and again and again.
Tatlock’s Quick ‘n Dirty Recap: A shuttle finds Ripley adrift in hypersleep, and awakens her. She reports to the Company (Weyland-Yutani) about the happenings from the first Alien encounter and the planet where they found the eggs, LV-426. Ripley finds out that the planet is now called Acheron and is being terraformed, to become a more hospitable place to live. A break down in communications between Earth and Acheron occurs and people are starting to get worried, so the Company decides to send a group of Colonial Marines, along with Ripley and a corporate lackey named Burke, to investigate what’s happening. Once they arrive to Acheron, they soon realize that a struggle occurred and Ripley’s fears are realized, as the colony has been overrun with those pesky little Aliens.
Tatlock’s Opinion: I’m pretty sure I don’t need to write anything more about the story to Aliens, as I hope everyone has already seen the movie and if you haven’t, stop reading this brilliant novelization review and pop in the movie and give it a watch. I’ll wait… Okay, good you’re back. Awesome wasn’t it? Anyway, on with the review again.
Alan Dean Foster’s take on the story, is based on an early screenplay, written by Dan O’Bannon, so there are some differences to the movie. The differences are mostly small things, but enough that you may notice a few things missing, or extra scenes that weren’t included in the movie. If you’ve read any of my other novelization reviews, you know I love when a book has added scenes that didn’t make it, as it’s like getting an extended cut, but hate with things you love in the movie aren’t present. Aliens is no different, in that it provides a good amount of extras that even if you’ve seen the movie hundreds of times, you’ll still get a kick out of this novel and a few surprises to boot, but lacks a few of the more memorable scenes/lines. I especially loved the extended sequences with Bishop in the pipe, contemplating on how the Aliens hunt their victims and also his small little interaction with one along his cramped journey, to call down the drop ship.
As mentioned, there is unfortunately some memorable lines/scenes from the movie that are either omitted completely from the book, or edited for swearing, so no classic line from Ripley about that bitch getting away from her, or her trying to make a deal with the Queen, or Hudson wondering how to get out of this chicken shit outfit, or declaring it game over. This is hardly any fault to Mr. Foster, as either the screenplay he was working on didn’t have the lines in it, or the publishers didn’t want the swearing. One last thing I will point out, is there are occasionally a few times where the wrong name is written out, when Foster is talking about someone else. In fact, it happened two different times and each time, Foster meant to put another Marines name down, but instead wrote Hudson instead. It rarely happens, but when this editing mistake occurred, it takes you out of the story.
Verdict: Aliens is all about the action and the novelization of the movie is no different. It’s got all the right ingredients for a great sequel and bringing Alan Dean Foster back on board was the best idea they could make, as his way of telling a familiar story, but keeping it fresh and exciting is wonderful. There are a few negatives, such as omitted lines, scenes and censorship, but it only brings the score down a little. A definite recommend for fans of this classic action, sci-fi movie.