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Alien – River of Pain Review

The end of November saw the release of Alien – River of Pain, the last of Titan’s trilogy of Alien novels released throughout 2014. The novel serves as a semi-prequel to Aliens and tells the tale of the Alien infestation of Hadley’s Hope. I have just uploaded my review of the novel, written by Christopher Golden, for you all to read:

“The first half of the novel is quite a slow burn, taking its time to let us get to know the situation these characters are in. Christopher Golden really emphasizes the mental turmoil that the colonists face every day. It makes a nice change as none of the other novels or comics that I can remember make a big deal of the hardships that are faced when these people uproot their life and attempt to make a new start on a frontier colony.

A section relatively early on in the book focuses on the more drastic aspects of this hardship in what can happen when someone really goes off the deep end. It really emphasized what can happen when it all goes truly wrong.

River of Pain focuses mainly on the Jordan family – quite obviously as Newt is the sole survivor in Aliens and as her parents are vital to the story in that they bring the xenomorphs back to the colony – and Golden uses their family to further emphasize the hardships of the frontier-life. Russ, Newt’s father, is becoming quite disillusioned with the life he has chosen and it is putting strain on his relationship with Anne. A relationship that is further strained with the introduction of the new Colonial Marine CO, Demian Brackett.”

Whilst Alien – River of Pain marks the last of the current series of Alien novels, we recently found out that Tim Lebbon – author of the first novel, Alien – Out of the Shadows – will be writing a brand new Alien vs Predator trilogy titled Rage Wars. Be sure to check out my Alien – River of Pain review in it’s entirety. The novel is available to purchase from all your usual online book retailers.

What did you think of the novel? Let us know down below!

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Comments: 30
  1. Mr. Clemens
    About the dialogue changes, I've been wondering: could that be a legal thing? Is a writer able to grab Cameron's dialogue whole-cloth and then say, 'written by Christopher Golden'? Something to think about, anyway...
  2. janenad
    He didn't want to talk about the mistakes? Now that's mature... -.-" It's just annoying me that his book had the most mistakes, and the most important ones! The worst thing is, the mistakes in his book were the hardest ones to make, it's one thing when someone forgets a set piece or some data from dialog in previous movies that interferes with what you're writing now, but here he had to just copy the dialog and look of the characters, and the obvious Jockey ship layout. It really does ruin the immersion.
  3. Corporal Hicks
    Whilst I definitely agree with you about the conclusion jumping, I don't think that one was too much of a stretch. It would have been better if it'd been shown.

    BTW we've got the Chris Golden interview back. I'm awaiting some response to follow-up and I need to get it all pretty but it should be up over the weekend. He didn't really want to talk about the mistakes so...that wasn't talked about.
  4. HuDaFuK
    Yes, but I don't remember them seeing anything to suggest taking off a Facehugger was fatal. Difficult, yes, but not necessarily terminal. Even if someone had died in the process, there was nothing to suggest it couldn't have been an accident borne out of desperation.
  5. HuDaFuK
    Quote from: Ultramorph on Jan 08, 2015, 09:40:40 PM
    I really enjoyed how Golden handled Marachek, IE not actually having him as a character. The scene where the marine grills the researcher about how they got the living facehugger was one of the best in the book, and that kind of handling is what separates a well-written book from fan fiction.

    I actually hated that scene. The Marine's reaction was yet another example of characters leaping straight to conclusions the reader knows to be true, but the characters themselves have no real evidence to suggest. The minute he saw that he knew what was going on, yet nothing before that suggested the colonists had to have been killed, nor was there any evidence it was intentional on the part of the scientists.
  6. Ultramorph
    I finished River of Pain last night, and I have to say that the Titan trilogy, for me, peaked right at the start with Out of the Shadows. RoP was fairly good, and definitely didn't leave me as unsatisfied as Sea of Sorrows, but certain elements of the book didn't work for me. Full thoughts, with spoilers, below.

    First, the good. Golden, like Jim Moore, was smart to hold off on the alien action until the midway point. The way he sets up just how hostile LV-426 is, and the strain that that takes on the colonists, is one of the book's strengths. I'm very much looking forward to seeing if the stuff with the Arcturians comes more into play in the Rage War. Similarly, he does a good job writing the Jordens without it becoming cheesy or fan fiction-y. Brackett is a nice main character as well, though I would have liked to have seen a bit more remorse for how he was essentially responisble for what happened to the Jordens. It was there, but I would have liked to have seen his flaws and mistakes given more room to air out. Hoop still stands as my favorite main character of the trilogy.

    As for the bad, I'm just not sure that it was necessary to change the universe as much as they did here. The secret escape ship read like something from one of the lesser DHP novels, and though it felt more earned, the Colonial Marines-esque ending felt useless, unless there winds up being a sequel with Brackett and company. Similarly, the cameos from Derrick Russel and the FaS characters were a nice treat, but ultimately I don't think it really worked. How The Company just missed what was going on with the jungle on LV-223 defies reason. On the same note, including the marines felt more forced than anything, as the story would have arguably been better if it had just starred colonists coping to survive. So, a lot of the premises behind the book felt needlessly over-complicated, and this is coming from someone who liked Ripley in Out of the Shadows.

    All being said, I liked the book well enough, but it felt a bit unnecessary. I'm looking forward to Lebbon continuing the 25th century side of things in the Rage War.

    A couple other points:

    I really enjoyed how Golden handled Marachek, IE not actually having him as a character. The scene where the marine grills the researcher about how they got the living facehugger was one of the best in the book, and that kind of handling is what separates a well-written book from fan fiction.

    As far as the Derelict, I didn't hate what Golden did. It wasn't as new or as exciting as the dog-alien ship scenes in OotS, but Anne and Russ's reactions to what they found were nice. The Engineer and alien queen locked in their death struggle bordered on cool and cheesy, but given what we've seen of the Engineers and the xenomorphs in FaS, the whole idea of a battle on the Derelict works well enough.
  7. Birth_Machine
    Thanks for posting your review. I'm a third of the way through and don't see why every third chapter is a scene from the beginning of Aliens, which just seems like filler. At this point, the only people who are going to read these novels know the entire damn movie by heart. I understand interspersing the film's events into the narrative, but only if the juxtaposition offered something new, like Burke conniving and giggling maniacally to himself in his (comically dated 80's) office or Hicks revving up his vintage Trans-Am in a barn somewhere before getting the call to report for duty.

    I don't intend to be entirely negative, because I agree with the 7/10 rating. Mr. Golden has a gift for imbuing his characters with depth while maintaining a brisk narrative pacing. The birth of Newt was something I wouldn't think we need to see as fans, but after reading the passage found it moving. One major gripe though: in Golden's timeline Newt is six years old, which means she either skipped a grade to earn that 2nd Grade citizenship award or someone didn't do their homework.

    Also, one passage that stood out, and I'm paraphrasing: "He didn't earn the Galactic Cross just to deal with corporate stooges". A space setting doesn't necessitate placing a space prefix before everything. Did Brackett earn the Cosmic Bronze Star as well? I assume that the military, being stubbornly traditional, would still retain the medal names we have today.
  8. DemonicD13
    I would like to know his thoughts on the loss of communications with Gateway Station mentioned in the movie. Was the request for help blocked or somehow intercepted?

    Any basic information on Brackett, How old is he, where was he born, Ect.

    There are both Pulse rifles and Plasma rifles mentioned, do the marines have both or was it a typo. I have a hard time believing their were Phased Plasma rifles at Hedley's Hope.

    Was the egg chamber and Jockey in the same area simple a mistake or did he have something else in mind their that we didn't understand?

    Is their any plan of a follow up with Louisa and Brackett?
  9. Xenomorphine
    Ask about the PDT stuff.

    Also, I think others have mentioned the colonists having super-weapons, which doesn't sound like it gels with Apone's mention of "small arms fire" and improvised "seismic survey charges" - whose idea was that and why remove such an element which would have heightened the sense of desperation and tension?
  10. predxeno
    I forgot that River of Pain came out at the end of November instead of end of December. :(  Anyway, I just finished it and I have to say I LOVED how the story references not only the new Fire and Stone series but also that it stays true to the canon of Newt's Tale.  I know a lot of people like to pretend the EU never existed but I like to think that this is the story's way of reinforcing that it did.

    Quote from: HuDaFuK on Dec 17, 2014, 08:59:07 PM
    Who's idea was it to include the Newt's Tale scenes?

    ^This, when you interview the author.
  11. Corporal Hicks
    Quote from: Nazrel on Dec 12, 2014, 07:36:07 PM
    I would recommend picking it up, its a decent book , no exit was.. alright if i remember correctly, i read it once years ago and never re read it, its in my collection somewhere. In comparison ive reread earth hive, nightmare assylum and female war loads of times

    No Exit started really well. It was this story of a psychologically damaged detective hunting down Aliens. It started so well and was really interesting but then the second half descended into an over-blown Aliens-esque book in which a dude beats up an Alien. Really disappointed me.

    Anyway! I've just uploaded my own review of the book onto the website.
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