Alien/Predator Novel Reviews

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

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Alien/Predator Novel Reviews (Read 50,482 times)

Hudson

Hudson

#105
Aliens: Berserker 3/5

This wasn't as great as I was expecting, but I appreciated S.D. Perry's writing. The characters in the novel range from being interesting (Teape) to caricatures (Pulaski), but generally they're all entertaining presences in the story and she's able to move the plot along with momentum and enough immediate and overarching tension. I had a bit of trouble with the beginning of this though, because we work our way into the story a bit awkwardly by beginning with Sturges (minor character) focalizing the opening, and then begin transitioning to the relevant characters. I was drowning in name soup, even though there aren't that many people. I would much rather have had the opening here focus on one person, perhaps Jess or Lara, and then slowly introduce the others. The ending didn't really jump out at me because the descriptions of large battles with Aliens aren't really that interesting in prose form, as opposed to the visuals of the graphic novel (Berserkey, by the way, was not one of the Aliens comics that I grew up reading, so it's less familiar to me overall). Something that intrigued me in the novel was the consideration of sexual harassment/sexual assault in the workplace, revolving around Lara's interactions with Pop Izzard. I felt these passages reflected a nuanced maturity in the writing and added some very authentic and engaging motivation for Lara's character. Also, that Perry handles these issues as a woman writing science fiction is probably something she wasn't praised or even acknowledged for in 1998, but certainly would be now.

While I generally really do enjoy Berserker, my biggest problem is the tension of the Aliens themselves. This is an 'advanced' narrative in the EU Alien mythos, meaning the Xenomorphs are nothing special at this point. There's no mystery to them, and the only fear our characters have towards them is really a result of the fact that there are so many which appear in this story. The weight of the Alien menace as an immediate threat feels diminished to me every time I experience a story where the characters are familiar with them. For instance, in AvP Prey, I feel a lot more tension surrounding the Aliens. And to use another S.D. Perry example, not a lot of tension stemming from the Aliens in Criminal Enterprise either, as once again, the characters are familiar with Xenomorphs as a ubiquitous threat across the galaxy. Other than the sometimes boring 'action' passages, the kind of meh opening and the lack of a payoff regarding a villain who's not really built up enough for me to feel enough satisfaction at their demise, this book was a fun read and what I would call one of the better Aliens novels I've experienced thus far. It should be one of the later books read by a fan though, probably at least after the Earth Hive trilogy.

Generally, this book hits all the notes: Colonial Marines (at least their technology), spaceships, loads of Aliens, and a Weyland Yutani conspiracy. I think all we're missing are synthetic humans.

Quote from: Corporal Hicks on Feb 23, 2018, 08:13:13 AM
I would love that. I really would! I think the newer series would be ripe for adaptations too. Don't get me wrong, I've loved having original novels but the idea of novel of the comics is just something I so associate with Alien and Predator that I've always got this little desire for more.

There's also a lot of opportunity in the novelization of a graphic novel feeling bolstered and revised. Some of the pacing in the comics is awkward and characterization gets muddled, but the writer adapting it into prose gets a chance to clarify everything and give us a closer, more definitive version of the narrative after the first pass has been made. With the original novels (thinking of No Exit here), the writer gets one shot to create everything in a short amount of time, without the opportunity to spend enough effort really polishing it.

SM

SM

#106
What I liked about the ending of Berserker was the payoff for Ellis, which resonated a lot more thanks to the insights into his past.

Hudson

Hudson

#107
Quote from: SM on Feb 24, 2018, 08:46:40 PM
What I liked about the ending of Berserker was the payoff for Ellis, which resonated a lot more thanks to the insights into his past.

That's a good point too. I guess I just didn't feel like I hated Pop as a villain as much as the story kept telling me I was supposed to, and that lack of satisfaction resonated with me more.

happypred

happypred

#108
Hunter's Planet only has cybernetically enhanced super-xenomorphs...no regular xenos or predaliens. So alien fans may be put off.

The prose is as good as, if not better than, Prey's.

Corporal Hicks

Quote from: Hudson on Feb 23, 2018, 07:57:52 PM
This wasn't as great as I was expecting, but I appreciated S.D. Perry's writing.

Sacrilege!  :o It was probably my favourite of the Alien novels. I thought Berserker was one of the ones that really had the Aliens actually feel terrifying again - primarily through Teape and his role on the team. With the novel actually expanding on his inner-thoughts throughout the whole experience made it standout more.


Hudson

Hudson

#110
Quote from: Corporal Hicks on Feb 26, 2018, 08:23:16 AM
Quote from: Hudson on Feb 23, 2018, 07:57:52 PM
This wasn't as great as I was expecting, but I appreciated S.D. Perry's writing.

Sacrilege!  :o It was probably my favourite of the Alien novels. I thought Berserker was one of the ones that really had the Aliens actually feel terrifying again - primarily through Teape and his role on the team. With the novel actually expanding on his inner-thoughts throughout the whole experience made it standout more.

I mean, of the ones I've read, it's better than:
- Sea of Sorrows
- Alien 3
- The Female War
- Nightmare Asylum
- Earth Hive
- Alien
- Criminal Enterprise
- No Exit
- DNA War
- River of Pain
- Bug Hunt
- Steel Egg
- Original Sin

So I'd say it's a pretty good book. Out of the Shadows, Resurrection, and Aliens are the books I'd definitively label as better books.

HuDaFuK

HuDaFuK

#111
It sounds trivial, but the Aliens novelisation was ruined for me by the bone-headed decision to remove all the swears.

SM

SM

#112
Since the only VHS copy of the film I had for ages was the modified-for-TV version with most of the swearing removed (they missed Drake's 'MOTHERf**kERS!!'), and I'd only seen the initial release once in the cinema, the lack of swearing in the novel was a complete non-issue.  I was mainly interested in the character insights and deleted scenes.

HuDaFuK

HuDaFuK

#113
I imagine as a kid it wouldn't have bothered me. But reading it first as an adult, it just took me right out of it. Anyone who knows anything about people in the military, especially the guys on the ground, knows they generally swear. A lot. The way they talk in the novel feels really forced and unrealistically sanitised.

SM

SM

#114
'Cos it was.  ;D

SiL

SiL

#115
I mean, when they turn one of the most iconic lines in cinema into "Get away from her, you!", is it really surprising that a comic adaptation got the shaft?

Xiggz456

Xiggz456

#116
So I finally decided to read the old bantam novels (I'd read every comic so it didn't really appeal to read the same story without artwork) but Hicks convinced me that the novels had some merit so I went and purchased Titan's Omnibus collections. I started with the AVP collection primarily because I'd never read Hunter's Planet.

First off was Prey based on the original AVP comic and my all time favorite Dark Horse story. Although I appreciate all the characters being further fleshed out compared to their comic counterparts, I still felt that I enjoyed the comic more so than the novel. Also I wasn't a fan of the anthropocentric thoughts coming from a Predator. But it was still a solid read nonetheless

Next up is Hunter's Planet. This story had potential but I think it ultimately missed the mark. Particularly Machiko felt like a different character entirely. Missed opportunity on not detailing the T-Rex hunt from the Predators perspective! Cyborg xenomorph soldiers were a unique take on weaponizing the beast. Interestingly both Hunters Planet and War detail issue 0 of War.

Lastly is War which I felt added the most to the characters. I really felt for the Berzerker survivors. This novel really fleshed out the 5 issue comic which In turn further enhanced the original story for me.

HuDaFuK

HuDaFuK

#117
Quote from: Xiggz456 on Mar 03, 2018, 03:09:06 AMSo I finally decided to read the old bantam novels (I'd read every comic so it didn't really appeal to read the same story without artwork)...

Rogue's well worth a read as it differs quite a bit from the comic. Several characters have different fates, and it adds a much expanded cast and even entirely new sub-plots to the story, all of which improve it for me.

Xiggz456

Xiggz456

#118
@hudson I concur completely. I'm having a blast reading these and gaining new insights regarding the characters, as well as the interesting additions or changes from the source material. I simply can't help but compare and contrast the two mediums lol.

@HuDaFuk I plan on reading it (already bought the omnibus containing Rogue and Labryinth). I just finished Vol 1 (Earth Hive, Nightmare Alsylum, Earth War). And all three were much more substantial with the plots in comparison to the comics which were often busy and sometimes unclear. Female War was quite a bit different as well (who built Ripley though?!). Again I feel these novels truly enhanced the original stories (I went and bought the new oversized fancy editions with the original script after reading the novels). Next up is Vol 2 with Genocide and Alien Harvest.

Xiggz456

Xiggz456

#119
Just finished "Rogue" and of the 15 or so novels I've consumed this year, this story was the most fun to read. The comic was always among my favorites and of the Bantam novels it currently is my favorite. I was also very impressed with the writing as the words truly translated into a continuous visual in my mind; especially the action sequences. @Hudafuk The changes from the comic actually strengthened the already great story to the point where I now prefer how the events transpire in the novel much more than the comic. @Hudson I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on this one considering your writing background (the novel is dedicated to Steve Perry and I can see the influence but I personally think she outdid Steve's stories on this one).

Also finished "Genocide" and "Alien Harvest" both stories added a good deal to their comic counterparts. From character development to additional storylines and scenes, the novels tend to "slow cook" these 4 issue storylines and I for one am all for it.

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