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Tag Archive: Alien: Out of the Shadows


Review by C.J. Bunce

As much as you may hear general moviegoers asking if we may be near the end of the Alien franchise–and earlier this month Alien director Ridley Scott said as much, that the franchise has basically “run out”–you probably won’t hear that from fans of Alien who keep coming back for more.  But no worry: two future movies are expected from the franchise.  Along the way tie-in authors continue to expand the universe before and after the first film that premiered way back in 1979.  The best of these so far is arguably Tim Lebbon’s Alien: Out of the Shadows (reviewed here at borg.com along with an interview with the author here).  In that novel Lebbon cleverly intercut between films a new tale of Ellen Ripley encountering xenomorphs again.  Earlier this year we reviewed an anthology, Alien: Bug Hunt here, and a new interactive in-world book in the Alien universe will be reviewed here soon.  Ridley Scott returned to direct another film in the series this year with Alien: Covenant, and a new tie-in novel bridges the gap between 2012’s Prometheus and Covenant.  Titled Alien: Covenant–Origins, it features the return of one of fandom’s favorite writers, Alan Dean Foster, and readers will find the story completely unexpected.

Since the 1970s Foster has written famous science fiction expansion stories that brought classic films home to audiences before the days of home video, including the novelization of the original Star Wars and the first Star Trek tie-ins.  His success with those would lead him to write the novelizations of the first three Alien films and Alien: Covenant, Terminator: Salvation, The Chronicles of Riddick, the first two Transformers movies, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Star Trek (2009), Star Trek Into Darkness, adding to a catalog of books that include The Thing, The Black Hole, Outland, The Last Starfighter, Starman, and AlienNation.  So Foster knows the Alien world well and with Alien: Covenant–Origins, Foster looks beyond the monstrous xenomorphs of the franchise to the political and corporate machinations behind the first effort to colonize outer space by Earthlings.  Springboarding off what we can imagine to be a Michael Crichton’s Rising Sun-inspired corporate takeover of CEO Peter Weyland’s tech company by competitor Hideo Yutani after the events of Prometheus find Weyland lost in space, we encounter the new Weyland-Yutani Corp. as it prepares to send a ship full of colonists to habitable planet Origae-6.  But on Earth the company first encounters espionage, intrigue, and sabotage, earthbound topics wrestled with similarly in Carl Sagan’s classic novel Contact. 

More action-thriller than sci-fi, Foster plants us into a mad dash to get the Covenant into space, with Yutani’s daughter kidnapped, assassination attempts, and a strange faction bombarding the company at every step to stop all efforts to go into space to avoid what one human is foreseeing as an invasion of horrible alien demons in Earth’s future if Weyland-Yutani proceeds with its flight.  It’s the same warning Sagan and NASA encountered from members of the public when the United States sent two Voyager space probes to the edge of the galaxy and beyond in the 1970s–what if aliens find us and they’re not so friendly?

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Is this a stand-up fight or another bug hunt?

Would Aliens–that epic sci-fi war movie sequel to the groundbreaking sci-fi horror tale Alien–have been half as great without the performance of Bill Paxton as Colonial Marine Private Hudson?  Tens of thousands of fans came out to celebrate Paxton and his performance in the film when news spread of his passing this February.  Always willing to recite a line from one of his movies for fans, you have to think he would have loved a read like Aliens: Bug Hunt, a new anthology from Titan Books.  Aliens: Bug Hunt hones in on the gritty band of spacefaring soldiers as 19 authors share 15 new short stories of the Alien universe.

The new release, just after the Aliens 30th anniversary and nicely timed to this month’s theatrical release of Alien: Covenant, provides stories before and after Aliens, some sci-fi, some horror, action and drama, or a mix of each.  One story tells the tale of Corporal Hicks before the events in Aliens, and a personal mission to locate the cause of his wife’s death.  Another story details an operation of the Marines in an encounter with a hostile alien menace unrelated to the Xenomorphs.  One story provides insight into the synthetic Bishop and how he came to be the determined and decisive crew member we met in the series.

The anthology was edited by Jonathan Maberry with new works by Maberry and a “usual suspects” list of tie-in book writers and more.  Dan Abnett, Rachel Caine, Larry Correia, Keith R.A. DeCandido, David Farland, Matt Forbeck, Ray Garton, Christopher Golden, Heather Graham, Brian Keene, Paul Kuppenberg, Tim Lebbon, Marina J. Lostetter, James A. Moore, Yvonne Navarro, Weston Ochse, Mike Resnick, and Scott Sigler contributed stories.

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Aliens rock music video 1980s

Following on its success with last year’s Back to the Future Day celebration and the annual Star Wars Day (May the Fourth), 20th Century Fox has created a new day to bring fans back to the Alien franchise.  Although we believe they should have gone with Mother’s Day, April 26, 2016, is being targeted for the first Alien Day in honor of the doomed world, LV-426, where Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley first encountered the vile xenomorphs in 1979’s Alien.  This means bringing the movie back for a limited theatrical release and plenty of product tie-ins.  It’s all in anticipation of Fox’s release of Ridley Scott’s next Alien franchise film next year, Alien: Covenant, starring Michael Fassbender.

Aliens Funko

For action figure fans, NECA is releasing Lieutenant Vasquez, Newt, and Kenner-style Ellen Ripley figures, and Funko is releasing a Kenner-style Queen, Power Loader and Ripley figure set and Super 7 will offer several figures.  Hot Toys will sell a 1:6 scale Ripley figure.  Look for Kotobukiya to release a 1:10 scale xenomorph.  Sideshow and Medicon Toy company will also release new Alien figures.

Alien Invasion Lebbon

Titan Books is releasing a new Tim Lebbon tie-in novel, Alien: Invasion.  (Check out our review and interview with Lebbon here at borg.com of Lebbon’s first awesome Alien novel Alien: Out of the Shadows).  And Alien: Out of the Shadows will get its own audiobook featuring the voice of Rutger Hauer.  Insight Editions will release a new book, The Weyland-Yutani Report.

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Heir to the Jedi Star Wars cover

This week will see the release of the third novel in the new Expanded Universe of Star Wars under Disney ownership, with Kevin Hearne’s Star Wars: Heir to the Jedi.  As with the first new canon novel Star Wars: A New Dawn, (previously reviewed here at borg.com) the title carries some secondary meaning.  The first major tie-in novel years after Return of the Jedi was Timothy Zahn’s successful Star Wars: Heir to the Empire, and there is a certain subtle nostalgia element to the similar title here.  The novel recounts some solo missions by Luke Skywalker after he destroys the Death Star at the end of A New Hope, and it is all told by Hearne in the first person voice.

Telling a story from the first person viewpoint takes some real mastery, and if not done right it can result in some clunky storytelling issues.  Telling a story from the mind of a key character like Luke Skywalker brings with it its own problems.  The biggest is that everyone who grew up with Luke has their own view of what makes the character tick, and giving readers a canon view–a “this is the right and only view of Luke”–perspective makes it easy to throw off a segment of readers.  Although I think Heir to the Jedi will certainly appeal to a new generation of readers, particularly those who have not read several of the newly labeled Legends novels, Hearne gives us a Luke that is not altogether that likeable, smart, or savvy a hero as you might hope for.

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Tim Lebbon

Interview by C.J. Bunce

Earlier this week I reviewed British author Tim Lebbon’s latest exciting novel, Alien: Out of the Shadows, (see the review here) the first in a trilogy of new novels in the Alien universe, which takes us on a perilous mission with none other than sci-fi/horror icon Ellen Ripley.  This week we caught up with the Bram Stoker Award winning author and asked him about this latest project.  You might know Tim from any of his several novels, including Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi–Into the Void, novelizations of 30 Days of Night (a New York Times Bestseller), and The Cabin in the Woods, or his Hellboy novels.

CB:  It’s not every day someone asks an author to tell a story in what is being marketed as canon for a major sci-fi and horror franchise.  It sounds like an exciting opportunity.  How did you approach the project?

TL:  It’s very exciting!  I’ve been an Alien fan since I saw the first film in my teens, and Aliens is probably my favourite film.  I’d wanted to write an Alien novel for a long time, and when this opportunity arose I agreed in about three seconds.  It was a slightly unusual project in that Fox came up with the very basic outline for the three new books — about a page per novel — and asked the three of us (me, James A. Moore and Christopher Golden) to construct our own ideas around their concept.  It was an interesting process, and once I had my proposal approved by Fox it was pretty much plain sailing.  They made a couple of suggestions about the finished novel — good ones! — and I’m thrilled with the final product.

Alien Out of the Shadows

CB:  Bridging these two films allows you only a very specific opening to create a new story.  Ellen Ripley is in stasis at the end of the original Alien and the beginning of its sequel, Aliens.  Where did the idea come from to locate Out of the Shadows at this point in time?

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Alien Out of the Shadows

Review by C.J. Bunce

You might think you’ve seen it all with five Alien feature films featuring the vile and merciless Xenomorphs.  You might really think you’ve seen everything about Warrant Officer Ellen Ripley from the spaceship Nostromo.  Ripley, the tough-as-nails heroine of the franchise played by Sigourney Weaver, was the lone human survivor of Alien (1979), and she led the charge against a Xenomorph attack in the sequel Aliens (1986), to come back again after her escape pod crashes onto a penal colony planet in Alien³ (1992), and finally return 200 years later as a human/Alien, Terminator-inspired hybrid clone in Alien: Resurrection (1997).  Ripley is on so many best-of lists, like Best Action Heroine and Top 100 Best Genre Character, that it’s impossible to count.  Ripley didn’t make an appearance in either Aliens vs Predator (2007) or Ridley Scott’s return to the Alien universe in 2012’s Prometheus, but has appeared in various incarnations in comic book spinoffs.  Well you haven’t seen the last of Ripley.  To quote the series’ often used tagline, The bitch is back.

A new trilogy series begins later this month, with Tim Lebbon’s Alien: Out of the Shadows.  Surprisingly it bridges the period between Alien and Aliens.  That’s right, Alien: Out of the Shadows pulls apart what you think happened to Ripley between entering into her deep stasis sleep at the end of Alien and her rescue from that sleep at the beginning of Aliens.  And Lebbon does it in a way fans of the series might not flinch at.  More importantly he takes Ripley on a nonstop, perilous mission that is as engaging as the grittiest and most exciting scenes in the franchise, the military mission in Aliens.

#1 Ellen Ripley

Chris “Hoop” Hooper works as chief engineer on a mining vessel called the Marion, as part of a Kelland Mining Company search for a rare metal called Trimonite.  Kelland is, of course, a subsidiary of Weyland-Yutani—the company that controls everything in the future.  Without wasting any paper, Lebbon catches us up with the Marion as two mining vessels go out of control in response to an invasion by certain familiar space “monsters.”  The ships ram the Marion–limiting anyone’s chances at survival, at ever leaving the orbit of the seemingly unextraordinary planet below, and causing the Marion to slowly descend to be burnt up in the planet’s atmosphere.  Jordan is the Marion’s experienced captain (and Hoop’s former love interest), Lachance is a level-headed pilot but he’s a pessimistic sort, Josh Baxter is the ship’s communications officer (and makes a good cocktail), Karen Sneddon is a hardened, intelligent science officer, Garcia is the nervous medic, and Kasyanov the doctor, with Powell and Welford engineers that keep the Marion’s crew alive for more than eleven weeks until Ripley’s shuttle auto-docks with them, 15 days before they predict they will get too close to the planet and burn up.

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