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AvPGalaxy Interviews Tim Lebbon

In January 2014 Titan Books released Alien – Out of the Shadows, written by Tim Lebbon. It was the first Alien novel for 5 years. In September 2015 Tim Lebbon returned to the world of Alien literacy with Predator – Incursion (don’t let the title fool you, it definitely has Aliens in), the first in an Alien vs. Predator novel trilogy (The Rage Wars), making Tim Lebbon the first author to pen their conflict on the pages of a book since S.D Perry finished AvP – War in 1999 (not counting the film novelization).

AvPGalaxy had the chance to catch up with up Tim following the release of the first Rage Wars novel, Predator – Incursion and ask him some questions about this sortie into the world of Alien vs. Predator.

AvPGalaxy – The Founders/Rage are a very interesting concept and I’ve wanted to see something like them for a long time. What was the genesis of the Rage?

Tim Lebbon – During my initial conversation with my Titan editor, he proposed the idea of an alien species attacking humanity with weaponised Xenomorphs.  But for me, a much more interesting proposition is that humans finally managed to weaponise them … but not W-Y.  From that idea grew the Rage, and a 15 page proposal for the trilogy.  I also liked the concept of the Founders morphing eventually into the Rage, perhaps a sad, cynical idea, but it made the story feel much more whole and rounded.”

Cover art for TIm Lebbon's Predator - Incursion. AvPGalaxy Interviews Tim Lebbon

Cover art for Tim Lebbon’s Predator – Incursion.

Beware some minor spoilers. Tim Lebbon answers questions from our community members and talks about the name Yautja, the development of the novel and a little bit about we can expect in the second book in The Rage Wars, Aliens – Invasion. Head on over to our Interviews section and be sure to check out the full interview with Tim Lebbon.



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  1. RakaiThwei
    Personally, I never liked the idea of Predators being slavers, at least to other races anyway.. I know that in the old EU, the Yautja had slaves but they were usually Yautja who had decided not to participate in the hunt, or were crippled or deformed Predators.
  2. The Alien Predator
    Predator: South China Sea certainly references this; as revealed in the story:

    Spoiler (click to show/hide)

    I recently read South China Sea, those bits were so interesting. In the "Ask Jeff" thread
    Spoiler (click to show/hide)
  3. predxeno
    Predator: South China Sea certainly references this; as revealed in the story:

    Spoiler (click to show/hide)
  4. The Alien Predator
    I see what you're getting at; truth be told, the Predator has hunted other technolologically advanced alien species before in the EU, I just liked it better when they were living in their own separate spheres.

    Have we seen any of these cases in the older EU? I feel that some of the skulls belonged to something intelligent, but have they been shown to hunt intelligent races besides us seeing the skulls?

    The books with the Hish state that there's more races, or so I've heard.

    But do the Yautja books explore this? I think those mainly focused on Predators and humans.
  5. predxeno
    I see what you're getting at; truth be told, the Predator has hunted other technolologically advanced alien species before in the EU, I just liked it better when they were living in their own separate spheres.
  6. The Alien Predator
    Adding other sentient aliens into the story diminishes the impact of the Predators and Engineers though; what made these 2 species so unique in this universe is that they were the only ones of their kind we had discovered.  In Star Trek (or Star Wars), there are so many different species that very few people have memorized the names of each individual alien species.

    I think the Alien universe hasn't got a plethora of lifeforms on the level of Star Trek. A few here and there is alright, but they're likely stretched across the galaxy. I think the only race to truly encounter at least 90% of the life in the galaxy are Predators due to them being stretched across this cosmic hunting ground.

    And for me, this actually greatly increases the badassery of the Predator.

    Think about it for a sec.

    Would you rather have this bully race that hunts a primitive humanoid race such as us?

    Or would you have this badass bully race that isn't afraid of possible sentient retribution from a possibly more advanced race such as the Engineers. Or a possible alliance against it? A race that just goes around not giving a damn on who and what it hunts, technological or not? South China Sea introduces several alien creatures, and many of them sapient and technological.
  7. predxeno
    Adding other sentient aliens into the story diminishes the impact of the Predators and Engineers though; what made these 2 species so unique in this universe is that they were the only ones of their kind we had discovered.  In Star Trek (or Star Wars), there are so many different species that very few people have memorized the names of each individual alien species.
  8. The Alien Predator
    Adding intelligent Aliens doesn't make it Star Trek-like. It isn't a galaxy teeming with life.

    Exactly, I don't get why people keep saying it's Star Trek like, (like it's a bad thing as well), I mean, an empty galaxy makes it Dune or Firefly if you wanna compare sci fi's.

    And all of those other sci fi franchises are good, so comparing them doesn't really belittle the Alien universe.

    Lebbon made sure to have a balanced galaxy, it's not teeming with life, sure we've encountered "loads" or "dozens" according to the previous Alien novels, but that could be the majority of life we'll ever find.... and did we see the Arcturians yet? I mean, there's no Arcturian cook on the Sulaco now is there?  :P We may trade with them, but we're not that close with them I think. Maybe the Arcturians (as far as intelligent races are concerned) are our "best friends" on a loose level, the kind we trust the most but not too much.

    And what about the Predators? Some of the skulls on their trophy wall look like they belong to something very intelligent to be a random alien animal.
  9. predxeno
    Spoiler (click to show/hide)
  10. The Alien Predator
    Spoiler (click to show/hide)
  11. The Alien Predator
    Also, don't forget that

    Spoiler (click to show/hide)

    I love the cover for book two, although I got it at the back of my novel, as well as the cover for AvP Armageddon.
  12. Corporal Hicks
    Trying to think how to phrase this.

    Spoiler (click to show/hide)
  13. The Alien Predator
    I think the lack of PredAlien is more due to story than any attempt to snub the concept. By all accounts, the Rage

    Spoiler (click to show/hide)

    That situation may change and a Queen maybe introduced later on down the line and an opportunity might open up.

    The prologue implies that the ship Lilliya sabotaged had a queen.

    But yeah, you're right. Also
    Spoiler (click to show/hide)
  14. Corporal Hicks
    I think the lack of PredAlien is more due to story than any attempt to snub the concept. By all accounts, the Rage

    Spoiler (click to show/hide)

    That situation may change and a Queen maybe introduced later on down the line and an opportunity might open up.
  15. predxeno
    It just occurred to me that the new AVP novel might try to deliberately avoid the subject of the Predalien.  I hope that the Predalien is featured in this story in some way, to me it's one of the staples of the series and it's really tragic that a concept that has been portrayed in so many good stories like AVP1999, AVP2, etc. will be avoided just because of one unpopular title.
  16. RakaiThwei
    And Rakai, you keep comparing this to Star Trek/Wars. Have you thought that an empty void makes the franchise like Dune or Firefly? All of these are good franchises so it doesn't exactly help the case of either side. Dune/Firefly are completely void of other civilizations, only humanity exists in space. But Alien had Space Jockeys from film one so there's immediate proof that there's other creatures out there besides humanity. It's undeniable. The question is "where are they?" And the whole "they're all dead" will just turn it into Dead Space.

    The only reason why I keep bringing up Star Trek and Star Wars is because I really don't watch a lot of futuristic space-setting Science Fiction. So those are the only two which I had happen to really know about that do have alien lifeforms in it. Of course I know about Babylon 5 but... who remembers that? I most certainly didn't until just now. And I had completely forgotten about Firefly-- then again I never really watched it, so I can't comment on that. As for Frank Herbert's Dune? Yeah, I never saw that either. Most Sci-Fi I don't even watch unless it's Alien, Predator, Robocop or Terminator-- which we all know why I watch those for.. Heh heh heh.

    And you're either missing the part where I said I'm not denying there is other life in the Alien-Predator universe other than Aliens, Predators and Space Jockeys, but what I am saying is that I liked the old universe where it was sparse with intelligent life.. and more visceral because of it. And most life out there WASN'T intelligent. The intelligent ones were far and few. All I'm saying is I preferred a universe where INTELLIGENT RACES (note, not life in general) are sparse, apathetic and downright sometimes cruel to the universe where intelligent life is being found more and more.

    That's all I'm saying, man.

    I just liked the old Alien-Predator universe where it was devoid and visceral, not teeming and cerebral. Just a matter of preference, man.
  17. The Alien Predator
    You can add to the galaxy without making it Star Trek. Personally I'd hate to see the galaxy teeming with life but I'd also hate to see it completely void of life. I'm after something in the middle. It'd just be nice to see one or two other new regular aliens (whether they're related to the Engineers or something completely independent) to keep it refresh because sooner or later, it'll run out of steam.

    Exactly. I prefer a perfect balance because sooner or later, it's just "Predator hunt humans on LV 1337", "Xenomorph infest colony on LV 228", "Predator hunt an Alien infestation on New Eden", "Xenos overrun ship".  *repeat cycle on different worlds and ships*

    But with fire and stone, it showed a panel of Ahab hunting various civilizations throughout the years and to me, it made the Predators infinitely more badass. Like they don't care, they will hunt multiple civilized races without a concern of sentient retaliation. When it's just humans, it kind of makes them seem like a bully race hunting either a primitive humanity or other wildlife. But here, they're hunting other civilized creatures.

    And Rakai, you keep comparing this to Star Trek/Wars. Have you thought that an empty void makes the franchise like Dune or Firefly? All of these are good franchises so it doesn't exactly help the case of either side. Dune/Firefly are completely void of other civilizations, only humanity exists in space. But Alien had Space Jockeys from film one so there's immediate proof that there's other creatures out there besides humanity. It's undeniable. The question is "where are they?" And the whole "they're all dead" will just turn it into Dead Space.

    I like that Alien is not teeming with life, so both sides can be happy. Like I said, Lebbon did the right thing by saying some pockets of the galaxy thrive with life while others are empty voids of silence. And the aliens that humans have met, it's not like we (the fans) have actually seen them. They don't work in our ships or visit our worlds. Decker from Sea of Sorrows didn't find any Arcturian hookers on Earth.  :P
  18. Corporal Hicks
    You can add to the galaxy without making it Star Trek. Personally I'd hate to see the galaxy teeming with life but I'd also hate to see it completely void of life. I'm after something in the middle. It'd just be nice to see one or two other new regular aliens (whether they're related to the Engineers or something completely independent) to keep it refresh because sooner or later, it'll run out of steam.
  19. RakaiThwei
    What's wrong with that?

    I've always pictured as extraterrestrials in general wanting VERY little to do with us, aside from distance observation. And if they do have something to want to do with us, I personally feel as if it's a very hostile reasoning. The Predators want to hunt us, the Aliens want to use us as breeding stock. I've always pictured the extraterrestrials in the Alien-Predator franchises as generally being either intelligent but hostile, or non-intelligent and hostile, or just non-intelligent wildlife. For the most part in the old EU, that's what we got aside from a few standout races. And I fully liked that idea.. It's what made the old Alien-Predator universe quite unique... no races wanted to help us, most were dead.. where as in Star Trek and Star Wars, you had an abundant of races who were always willing to help out one way or another.

    Technically, wasn't Machiko chum enough with the Predators to be accepted by them and allowed to live in their clan despite the Predator's suicidal protection to keep their tech out of human hands? Wasn't Alex the same with Scar to the point that he accepted her and gave her his clan mark? And we were on good relations with the Arcturians since "Aliens". So it's been like this since the old EU to some extent.

    I miss Machiko Noguchi. I really do miss her but she seems to have gone the way of Mara Jade.. But in regards to Machiko, I'm not arguing her treatment in the Predator clan which she ran with. So I have to ask, why even bring this up when I already know this? Well... in answer to this point.. Machiko was accepted because of her clan marking. She didn't have to go with them but she did because she felt like she didn't fit in with humans. And when she did join up with them well.. a lot of the Predators didn't like her. Top Knot merely TOLERATED her. As for Alexa Woods, who presumably went the way of Machiko Noguchi as Noguchi went the way of Mara Jade, well... sure, she was marked and she had earned enough respect to get a trophy of her own but she could've gone with them... but she didn't. Also as for Predators keeping tech out of human hands, I doubt a telescopic staff is enough to make us a threat and advance us by hundreds of years compared to say.. a plasma caster, and then there is the forensic doctor who had the spear tip. As much as I love(d) the Predator species and the Yautja concept... they've made mistakes here and there.

    As for the Arcturians, sure they've been around since Aliens but did anyone really know what they were supposed to be? I mean I've heard conflicting things that they were either these faceless beings who were humanoid, sentient insectoids, or were colonists who just named Arcturians. I've not read everything but I'm only telling you what I've heard from other fans over the years.

    I really don't get what's wrong with having some other intelligent creatures besides us in this franchise. It's kind of like people say about the real universe, space is so huge, there's gotta be something out there. In Alien, the Space Jockey is proof enough that there's other intelligences besides humanity. So if there's a Space Jockey, there's bound to be other things, albeit at a ridiculous distance away from us.

    It's a matter of preference. I just feel like adding in more intelligent life out there makes it like most other Sci-Fi genres out there and I point out to Star Trek the most. Now I am not questioning the possibility of other life out there, infact I am a firm believer that there is life out there but not quite a lot of it being intelligent. From what I'm hearing, I'm just hearing that these authors are trying to add in life bursting everywhere and... I just see it turning to something like Star Wars or Star Trek. I was fine with Aliens, Predators, Space Jockeys (before they became handsome Squidward) and Reapers but seeing more intelligent life in abundance... tone it down a little. We don't need one hundred fifty one races out there, just so we can catch'em all.
  20. The Alien Predator
    It would be pretty cool if Lebbon's 27th century got explored more, maybe in comics or something. Dark Star Trek sounds pretty cool to me. I like a middle ground where there are several alien races, but quite far apart from each other, separated by large swaths of dead space, and largely indifferent or hostile to each other. I like the idea of hinting that life used to be more common throughout space, until something big and bad happened.

    This pretty much sums up how I see the Alien universe. Maybe life has its cycles where at some point there are more and then something happens and then there are few.

    Like on Earth, where mass extinctions reduce things to a few.

    Now we've got races who are chummy-chum-chum cheroo with us.

    What's wrong with that?

    Technically, wasn't Machiko chum enough with the Predators to be accepted by them and allowed to live in their clan despite the Predator's suicidal protection to keep their tech out of human hands? Wasn't Alex the same with Scar to the point that he accepted her and gave her his clan mark? And we were on good relations with the Arcturians since "Aliens". So it's been like this since the old EU to some extent.

    The thing is, this stuff's not explored in the franchise. Even in Rage War, the characters are literally only humans, synthetics and Yautja.

    There's no Engineer, no Arcturian, no four armed thing, nothing. The "encounters" with other races are implied to be sparse and many of the races don't give a damn about us, the new books do say that while some were nice, others were either indifferent or hostile. Even the nice ones, we don't keep much contact with, hell, the only ones mentioned by name (as we call them) are the Arcturians with whom we're on good terms with, no one else is listed.

    Most races we've seen in the comics, humanity probably hasn't even encountered. Like the Reapers from Aliens: Reapers etc.

    I really don't get what's wrong with having some other intelligent creatures besides us in this franchise. It's kind of like people say about the real universe, space is so huge, there's gotta be something out there. In Alien, the Space Jockey is proof enough that there's other intelligences besides humanity. So if there's a Space Jockey, there's bound to be other things, albeit at a ridiculous distance away from us.

    I used to like the idea of this franchise being a dark, empty, soulless and barren void with just humanity, Aliens and Predators. But ever since Sea of Sorrows confirms "we've met loads of intelligent alien races" as of 2497, it was something I couldn't ignore as at that time, I kept going back and forth between "empty" galaxy and "has some life in it" galaxy, so Sea of Sorrows helped me solidify my choice.
  21. RakaiThwei
    Ugh, that's not for me personally.

    I'm the opposite in many ways. I'm all for a galaxy that is devoid of life, save for the xenomorphs and their related creators/opponents. It makes them all the more mysterious and frightening. If there are other alien races out there, especially ones that we've made contact with and traded with, it just ruins some of the mysticism for me.  A large part of the appeal of this universe is how grounded and realistic it is and I'd rather all that kind of stuff stayed in Star Trek.

    But that's just me.

    Agreed.. and if you ask me.. a universe like that is much more ominous than one that's just bursting with life like we see in Star Wars and Star Trek. I mean when I was reading the old EU and got the sense that the universe was devoid and only had sparse amounts of life, I got the impression that this was likely perhaps in cause to the Xenomorphs being spread around and killing many races. It made them more frightening, it gave the universe a sense of cynicism, hopelessness and danger.

    Now we've got races who are chummy-chum-chum cheroo with us.
  22. Ultramorph
    It would be pretty cool if Lebbon's 27th century got explored more, maybe in comics or something. Dark Star Trek sounds pretty cool to me. I like a middle ground where there are several alien races, but quite far apart from each other, separated by large swaths of dead space, and largely indifferent or hostile to each other. I like the idea of hinting that life used to be more common throughout space, until something big and bad happened.
  23. The Alien Predator
    It's a good thing that the franchise has the best of both worlds.

    Fans who like their devoid of life, silent, grim, dark, cynical, scary, uncaring galaxy can still enjoy it.

    And other fans will get the occasional mention or peek at another civilization trying to etch out a living in the very galaxy described in the sentence above and enjoy it too.

    I think Tim Lebbon picked a smart move by saying it depends on where you are in space. We didn't discover Arcturians until probably the 2160's or 70's as there's no mention of anything in Out of the Shadows about this. That goes to show how far apart all intelligent life are.

    Also, another thing that's very unique here is that we haven't actually seen any interactions between humans and these other races mentioned in the books, except Engineers and Predators. And speaking of Engineers, it's highly unlikely that Earth was their only petri dish.

    And for me personally, adding some more races feels refreshing. I feel there's only so many stories you can tell with just Xenomorphs and Yautja before it gets repetitious. As a fan, I can watch millions of "Predator hunt on *insert world*" movies, but sometimes, I just wanna see a bit more.
  24. TheBATMAN
    Ugh, that's not for me personally.

    I'm the opposite in many ways. I'm all for a galaxy that is devoid of life, save for the xenomorphs and their related creators/opponents. It makes them all the more mysterious and frightening. If there are other alien races out there, especially ones that we've made contact with and traded with, it just ruins some of the mysticism for me.  A large part of the appeal of this universe is how grounded and realistic it is and I'd rather all that kind of stuff stayed in Star Trek.

    But that's just me.
  25. The Alien Predator
    You know if they introduce enough races, they could actually turn this into a very compelling TV series like a dark, cynical Star Trek...

    I'd LOVE that.

    The Rage War era technology is incredibly advanced and had a cool space battle with humans against the Yautja. The battles were pretty grounded and realistic as well. I always wanted to see ship weaponry in use in this franchise as it's something we hardly ever get to see.

    The book says that "some areas of the galaxy thrive with life while others are barren and empty" with certain corners "haunted" by Xenomorphs who no doubt wiped everything out in their vicinity.
  26. The Alien Predator
    I love it when this franchise introduces other alien races. My favourite bit from Fire and Stone is the panels that show Ahab hunting various aliens throughout the years. The four armed red skinned tribal aliens, the more advanced bug like race with technology that may be decades away from us currently, and then finally this race that wore full futuristic body armour and had holographic technology showing an Engineer.

    This is why I loved Prometheus so much, it opened new doors for the franchise and has given us a perfectly valid excuse for why some aliens can be similar to us. I bet Engineers created Arcturians too.

    We never knew what the Arcturians from "Aliens" were, many thought they were human colonists on Arcturus. That it was the red light district of space where Colonial Marines went to let off some steam.

    But Sea of Sorrows confirms that the Arcturians were the first intelligent alien race that humanity met. Since then, my curiosity about the Arcturians has went through the roof. They were mentioned in River of Pain as being "Trading Partners" with humans. Tim Lebbon has also teased that he will mention the Arcturians but not feature them.
  27. LordCassusSnow
    You have a great love of arcturians guan thwei. You seem to be screaming for more of that specific civilisation. But why? All we ever got from the films is that they seem to have both male and female organs that are compatible with ours unless...wait, are you ricco ross, man?? Are you just trolling us ricco ross??
  28. LordCassusSnow
    Next time someone should ask tim if he could draw us some concept art of the dog and slug aliens. And then the xenos that come from those dog aliens so neca can make aliens figures from them! Oh and i'd also like to see what the queen and soldier aliens looked like from the derelict in river of pain. They had to be different from the colony hive right? I mean, i dont think they were made from humans unless engineers abduct us...but I do remember a human being dissected on an engineer slab in one of the fire and stone comics...
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