Alien: Out of the Shadows
Written by: Tim Lebbon
Paperback: 300 pages
Publisher: Titan (31 Jan 2014)
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 saviours… Ellen Ripley, the last human survivor of the salvage ship Nostromo.
Orbiting the mining colony on LV178 is the supply and service vessel The Marion, with a small crew led by Chris Hooper, ships engineer. Receiving garbled communications from the drop ships Samson and Delilah, both en route to The Marion with several miners on board; the messages are fragmented but the visuals show colleagues in pain, screaming, blood and an unknown species….
The drop ships collide with the Marion, wiping all but a handful of its crew and leaving its drop ship “inhabitants” alone, isolated, but not secure in its cargo hold. With the ships orbit decaying and warning alarms ringing out constantly, another vessel approaches.
A lone lifeboat named The Narcissus approaches. It has one female occupant: Ellen Ripley, sole survivor of The Nostromo who has been in stasis from her encounter with the xenomorph that wiped out her entire crew and forced her to detonate the ship.
Once on board The Marion, Ripley is quickly informed of the crew’s recent history and, more importantly, discovers that her worst nightmares have come not only to haun her dreams but are with her in reality and she must face them once again if she is to survive…..
Alien: Out of the Shadows is set 37 years after the film, Alien, and focuses once more on Ellen Ripley and her fight with the horrific creatures. The setting of this novel is both familiar and yet a little different. The characters all have their own function onboard the ship and on the surface of the planet and you can see elements of the original film characters in the way they have been written.
The story flows quite easily; there is tension, punctuated by grisly discovers of horrors and death that may have some readers averting their gaze from the next sentence. Added into this mix is a cameo of sorts that will certainly bring a chilling smile to the fans of this franchise – and no, I don’t mean Ripley.
That said, whilst the first half of this novel is thrilling, the pace quickens and all too soon the reader will realise exactly what the outcome will be well before the final chapters. Indeed, it feels that the ending (though it takes it time to get there) is all too neatly wrapped up.
Fans of this franchise will certainly relish the carnage that once again follows Ellen Ripley and, whilst it is set firmly within the timeline of the movies, it does add another small dimension to the character. A ‘bridge’ book of sorts that adds more thrills to an already scary and enjoyable franchise. Sadly, if you know the franchise then the book’s ending may be spoilt long before you get there…