Alien/Predator Novel Reviews

Started by Hudson, Aug 19, 2014, 04:55:43 PM

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Alien/Predator Novel Reviews (Read 50,658 times)

SM

SM

#45
I'm re-reading all of them at the minute (finished Original Sin, Steel Egg, No Exit and Criminal Enterprise - Cauldron up next).

I think I like Criminal Enterprise the best, though No Exit was decent too (lack of ending notwithstanding).  I recall Cauldron being similar to your above description - some gruesome/ effective scenes, but largely uninteresting characters.

Criminal Enterprise at least had a few interesting characters.  Tommy and Pete were a bit thin, but some of the supporting characters (eg. Didi, Trace) weren't just clichéd criminals.  And Danelle crammed a shit tonne of f**ked-upedness into the Fantasia science staff in the space of about 3 pages.  I want a book about those guys.

HuDaFuK

HuDaFuK

#46
I read all the Bantam Aliens books a little while ago; I plan on getting the DH Press ones in the future, when I'm not so strapped for disposable income.

Hudson

Hudson

#47
Quote from: HuDaFuK on Apr 21, 2017, 09:12:51 AM
I read all the Bantam Aliens books a little while ago; I plan on getting the DH Press ones in the future, when I'm not so strapped for disposable income.

They are all pretty rare and expensive for what ends up not being worth the cost and hassle of tracking down a decent copy. You should be able to wait for Titan to re-anthologize them the same way they're doing with the Bantam books. Omnibus 5, 6, and 7 should be the DH novels if they hold to their current pattern.

Although, curiously, it doesn't appear that they're going to re-anthologize the DH Predator novels.

QuoteI'm re-reading all of them at the minute (finished Original Sin, Steel Egg, No Exit and Criminal Enterprise - Cauldron up next).

What were your thoughts on Original Sin this time? I read it once when it came out, and the last time whenever the post in this thread is dated. Hated it both times, easily my least favorite of the 5 of those that I've read.

SM

SM

#48
I didn't hate Original Sin the first time or the second time.  But I didn't like it that much either.  Ripley seemed inconsistent from where we left her in Resurrection.  She seemed to have regressed.  The Elgyn, Hillard and Christie replacements were a bit meh.  Krakke was interesting but quite derivative of St Just who was dropped from Resurrection before they started shooting.  Rama existed solely to die and be replaced by Angie. And speaking of derivative, the action in the second half seemed based on the deleted jungle scene from Resurrection.

And in terms of the Jockeys (Mala'kak) and the history of Amanda Ripley, they were a bit easier to digest this time knowing they weren't even remotely official.  It was disappointing that the USM was completely absent.

Hudson

Hudson

#49
Thought I'd check back in:

Aliens: Bug Hunt 2/5

I posted about this in the primary thread for the book, but I thought I'd just restate it here: Not very good. My overall impression is that, as usual, the authors hired to write these aren't really all that familiar with the series. By that I mean that they haven't read other licensed Aliens writing and aren't familiar with the EU beyond what Fox tells them. There were a total of 3 out of 18 stories in this anthology that I thought were worthwhile. Unlike the 3 novels from 2014, the stuff that connects with the movies in these stories has a fanfiction feel to it, and not the feeling of something that fits in with canon. Specifically referring to the characters from Aliens who make an appearance. One of my favorite stories--although it has a terrible ending--involved some connections with Alien 3, which I thought was the most interesting move.

Alien: Sea of Sorrows 3/5

My visceral reaction to this is that the book could be reviewed by listing all of the missed opportunities. It takes place in the 2400s but I don't feel a whole lot of difference coming from Out of the Shadows. They're held up by an elevator? There don't seem to be any medical advances. James Moore's writing isn't as good as Lebbon's overall at the sentence level. I thought the telepathy stuff was pretty vague. There were too many characters, as is a usual problem with these books. Moore also seemed to misunderstand the final shot of the Alien Resurrection special edition to think that the Auriga crashed into Europe, when I thought it was Africa? Mostly I thought this had an interesting start and then just kind of disintegrated into the third act of Alien 3. There wasn't a whole lot new brought to the franchise. We could've had some interesting 25th century stuff. We could have had an interesting trace of Ripley's descendants, and instead there's only a vague connection listed. We never get to find out what happened to Ripley 8. And if this is really meant to be the actual canonical ending to the Alien franchise, it's pretty underwhelming. Overall though, not bad. Still better than all of the DHP books. Just didn't bring anything new to the franchise.

Started River of Pain. Golden's writing is already a tier down from both Lebbon and Moore. Yeesh.

SM

SM

#50
Too many characters was definitely a problem with Sea of Sorrows.  He mentions a number of characters at the start, then more characters than that number get named.  Some actually get personalities, but most are barely even names. It gets very unclear towards the end who is alive and dead to the point that Ferguson simply disappears from the narrative as they get out of the mine and make for the ship.

Spoiler
I found the end and lack of a resolution for Decker a little annoying too.  The Company have their Alien, his only friend Adams had a hugger on her bonce.  And whatever bond he might've developed with the mercs is destroyed when he tries to shoot Elway and Adams.
[close]

Hudson

Hudson

#51
Seems like they wanted it to lead into something else...but so far nothing indicates that there will be a follow up.

Also, I do have to say I did appreciate the shorter chapter format. I think that's a good move in any narrative that heavily relies on tension to move the plot forward. Made this go by fairly quick. I noticed one of the books in the new Omnibus is like that too, maybe Alien Hive, It has like 77 chapters.

SM

SM

#52
Yeah some of them are only a couple of pages.  It does give the impression of things moving at a fair old clip.

Hudson

Hudson

#53
Alien 3 3/5

Decided to give this a read today. I had previously listened to the Peter Guinness Audible version on a car trip but didn't really count that as having read it. He did a good Brian Glover, I'll say that.

Also, when I got to page 95, a real spider crawled over the top of my book and onto the page I was reading and I may have nearly died.

Anyway, the beginning of this is off to a strange start but mostly I found it to be a generally quick and entertaining read, kind of a book version of the Assembly Cut but with some other added differences. You can tell the ending was rushed. Chapter XIV includes quite a bit and the novel comes to a very abrupt halt. Foster's writing feels improved in this book compared to the first Alien, where he was constantly changing focalization multiple times per page. Here, there's more focus regarding the point of view. Of his three I think he had the most fun writing Aliens, and it's the most fun to read. I think, especially near the last third of the book, you can tell that he wasn't all that interested in writing this.

Corporal Hicks

Corporal Hicks

#54
Quote from: Hudson on May 13, 2017, 02:13:36 AM
Decided to give this a read today. I had previously listened to the Peter Guinness Audible version on a car trip but didn't really count that as having read it. He did a good Brian Glover, I'll say that.

His Glover was bang on. It was uncanny.

QuoteAlso, when I got to page 95, a real spider crawled over the top of my book and onto the page I was reading and I may have nearly died.

:laugh: I think I would have as well.

QuoteAnyway, the beginning of this is off to a strange start but mostly I found it to be a generally quick and entertaining read, kind of a book version of the Assembly Cut but with some other added differences. You can tell the ending was rushed. Chapter XIV includes quite a bit and the novel comes to a very abrupt halt. Foster's writing feels improved in this book compared to the first Alien, where he was constantly changing focalization multiple times per page. Here, there's more focus regarding the point of view. Of his three I think he had the most fun writing Aliens, and it's the most fun to read. I think, especially near the last third of the book, you can tell that he wasn't all that interested in writing this.

The shifting between perspectives thing did throw me through a loop the first time I read Alien and I completely agree with it seeming that ADF lost interest while writing the end of Alien 3 (and I can't fault him considering the difficult time he had on the project). I can never rate the film novelizations though. I enjoy reading them to see the differences and expansions with the actual films.

Hudson

Hudson

#55
Alien - River of Pain 2/5

I wasn't impressed by this. Aside from the annoying caricature of how the military works beyond less accurate than even Aliens' portrayal, I also thought the writing was less impressive than in the first two novels in this trilogy. The word wildcatter in its variations being used insistently throughout this book merely because the word was mentioned in passing during a deleted scene in the film ended up annoying me probably more than it should have.

Also, John Marachuck? Anybody? Bueller...? I thought the story was pretty bland. The thought that this was told as being a result of the events of Alien rather than being told as a prelude to the events of Aliens was intriguing, but the story didn't grab me. The Colonial Marine characters were pretty boring. It was a terrible retcon. Much like many of the stories in Aliens Bug Hunt, the retcons in this novel do everything in their power to cheapen Aliens. I don't really understand why it is the Fox reps can't seem to help themselves from making the Aliens EU absolutely ridiculous at times. Overall this was a letdown, and as a follow up to the first two, pretty damn unsatisfying.

Alien The Weyland Yutani Report 3/5

This was gorgeous to look at, but overall very meh. It shows that the continuity of these films is a mess that the Fox people can't seem to get straight. Canonical references between this book and some of the newer novels felt inconsistent. The retelling of the facehugger removal scene in this book isn't even present in River of Pain, although Captain Brackett is referred to in the Weyland Yutani Report.

I enjoy the idea of metatext, and thought the Robert Morse penned journal was a very cool addition. I was worried it would be bad, but I thought it was well done and felt right for his character.

Cool to look at, loved the artwork, but overall a very bland read.





SM

SM

#56
Just re-read Cauldron.  About as good as when I first read it.  That is to say, not very.  Carey has some good ideas, and there's some appropriately gruesome passages, but there's two problems.

1) She tries to force this whole idea about old style shipping into a futuristic setting.  Things don't work like that in Alien.  People spends weeks or months in hypersleep; cargo doesn't go from one ship, to another ship to another ship over the course of a couple of days.  It needed to draw more from contemporary freight and not some old romantic notion of ships bells and bosuns and cockswains, etc.

2) The dialogue is excrutiating, which leads to the characters coming across as excrutiating.  I dunno if her Isle of Man accent/ slang was accurate, but her attempts at Australian were pretty mediocre.  She'd fill a sentence from Dan with stuff that was getting close to how an Australian would speak - then use the word 'diaper'.  Which we don't.  This was fairly constant throughout.  It would've been better to not write the accented language, and just mention "the Australian drawl" every now and then to remind the reader.

Hudson

Hudson

#57
Quote from: SM on May 31, 2017, 07:05:13 AM
Just re-read Cauldron.  About as good as when I first read it.  That is to say, not very.  Carey has some good ideas, and there's some appropriately gruesome passages, but there's two problems.

1) She tries to force this whole idea about old style shipping into a futuristic setting.  Things don't work like that in Alien.  People spends weeks or months in hypersleep; cargo doesn't go from one ship, to another ship to another ship over the course of a couple of days.  It needed to draw more from contemporary freight and not some old romantic notion of ships bells and bosuns and cockswains, etc.

2) The dialogue is excrutiating, which leads to the characters coming across as excrutiating.  I dunno if her Isle of Man accent/ slang was accurate, but her attempts at Australian were pretty mediocre.  She'd fill a sentence from Dan with stuff that was getting close to how an Australian would speak - then use the word 'diaper'.  Which we don't.  This was fairly constant throughout.  It would've been better to not write the accented language, and just mention "the Australian drawl" every now and then to remind the reader.

Dialect is almost always more cumbersome to read as opposed to just a passing reference that the person has an accent. Case in point: Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God. The dialogue in that book is a slog, to say the least.

Cauldron is on my list after I finish the Resurrection novelization. I can't say I'm all that excited for it. I didn't hate DNA War. It wasn't boring at least, but still, it's not good. The first-person narration was a missed opportunity at creating an interesting voice (you could easily change the pronouns to third person for the narrator and you'd never know it was originally in first) and the facehugger stampedes were a bit much.

Based on Carey's interview here and also her defensive Amazon review of DNA War, she has struck me as someone who phoned in her paychecks on this project.

SM

SM

#58
Never read DNA War.  I'll pick it up when it's re-released.

I'm massive fan of Irvine Welsh, who writes almost nothing but dialect and first person, so I'm hoping the first person in DNA War is better than the dialect in Cauldron.

SM

SM

#59
Just read DNA War (thanks SiL for the lend).  It's like reading a different author.  Carey has the same gross bits like she did in Cauldron, but overall the dialogue between the characters is miles ahead of the painful stuff in Cauldron.  Perhaps it's because she created a this hostile dynamic between the Rory, his mother and his sister, and also made Rory pretty flawed as a hero.

I think overall the story got a bit repetitive with the 'we're leaving, oh but we can't' that dominated much of the narrative.  The rolling Aliens and flying facehuggers didn't really add much to proceedings - but in general DNA War was pretty good.

Also re-reading the Aliens novelization and came across this...

[During the initial sweep of the colony]
Someone ventured a couple of lines a capella from Thor's storm-calling song at the end of Das Rheingold.  It sounded like Hudson, but Ripley couldn't be sure, and no one owned up to the chorus.

That ADF one spooky mofo.  ;D

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