With the exception of the vast expanded universe of Star Wars and Star Trek, no other sci-fi property has branched out in the past ten years in as many exciting ways as the Alien universe. Every new tie-in novel consistently has been packed with suspense and innovative takes on Weyland-Yutani and its influence years before, during, and after the events of Ridley Scott’s original Alien movie. Each year fans of Alien celebrate April 26 as Alien Day, reflecting not a specific day inside the Alien universe, but the designation of the moon in the film Aliens: LV426. Back in 2019 we celebrated the 40th anniversary of the release of the original Ridley Scott film, and the tie-ins keep coming now that the Fox movies fall under the Disney umbrella. Here’s a list of what you should check out if you’re an Alien fan. First up, the new novel, Aliens: Infiltrator.
Unlike most Alien tie-in novels, the focus of Aliens: Infiltrator is not on Colonial Marines in action as in the movie Aliens, other than in a reflective, “toll put on worn-down space marines” kind of way. All of the novels feature some aspect of Weyland-Yutani, the corporation known for the worst decisions in the universe. But this time author Weston Ochse leans hard on his horror-writing past. This is Saw meets Alien, a gory, violence-filled revisit to a classic sci-fi horror work, H.G. Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau. Many visuals will take you back to Alien, not Aliens, despite the title, to those unsuspecting victims of face-hugging, chest-bursting monsters–the key word being unsuspecting. This time the corporation is experimenting on Xenomorphs, introducing small “x” xenomorphs: other types of animal–and human–life, which have been introduced to the cellular structures of the Xenomorph. Every single character is despicable, every single decision is bad–you’ll find no Ellen Ripley equivalent here, but lots of Paul Reisers. And another company tries to make some headway against Weyland-Yutani, contributing an espionage factor–providing the infiltrator of the title.
It all makes sense considering the purpose of the book as lead-in and prequel to a forthcoming third-person survival shooter game, Aliens: Fireteam, a game that producer Cold Iron Studios and Disney’s 20th Century Games promises Xbox and PlayStation users more weapons and an entire evolution of alien threats trapped with the player aboard the USS Endeavor. That’s when the Colonial Marines will come into play. So the novel is more standalone than prequel, an introduction to a zoo of Xenomorphs and quasi-Xenomorphs. The game will be less of the survival format, and far more action format. If you’re an Alien fan, this story may be for you, and it looks like the game will focus more on the Aliens movie type of action. Published by Titan Books, Aliens: Infiltrator is available now here at Amazon.
You’ll find a definitive look back at the movie Alien in J.W. Rinzler’s recent The Making of Alien, available here (reviewed here last September).
No book or film has portrayed the people behind the Weyland-Yutani Corporation as more vile and despicable as author Alex White envisioned them in his novel released for Alien Day 2018, Alien: The Cold Forge, a sequel to the second film in the franchise, James Cameron’s Aliens. The Company is proceeding to fulfill one of its initial ideas, to weaponize the Xenomorphs for military use (which is continued in Ochse’s new book). White returned this year with Into Charybdis (reviewed here), a big, dense journey with workers at a strange planetary base.
Our pick for the best of the Alien tie-in novels? That’s Alien: Out of the Shadows, by Tim Lebbon. It’s our recommendation for anyone jumping into the novels with only the first two movies as a starting point.
There’s Jonesy: Nine Lives on the Nostromo by Rory Lucey (reviewed here), which reminds us: In space, no one can hear you meow. Aboard the Nostromo, Jonesy leads a simple life enjoying The Company cat food and chasing space rodents. Until one day his cryostasis catnap is rudely interrupted. The humans have a new pet and it’s definitely not house trained. This full-color illustrated book offers a cat’s eye view of all the action from the movie Alien.
Not enough? You say you want a full-on fix of Alien today? Check out any of these Alien tie-ins and films previously reviewed here at borg:
The Book of Alien: Augmented Reality Survival Manual, by Owen Williams
Alien Covenant: Origins, by Alan Dean Foster
The Art and Making of Alien Covenant, by Simon Ward
Alien Covenant: David’s Drawings by Dane Hallett & Matt Hatton
Aliens: Bug Hunt, anthology
Alien: The Weyland-Yutani Report, by S.D. Perry
Aliens: The 30th Anniversary Edition
Cinema Alchemist: Designing Star Wars and Alien, by Roger Christian
Aliens: The Set Photography, by Simon Ward
The Movie Art of Syd Mead, Visual Futurist
Or go directly to the source, the movies themselves, all at affordable prices on Amazon, and even less with subscriptions to various streaming platforms:
Happy Alien Day 2021!
C.J. Bunce / Editor / borg