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Author Topic: Alien/Predator Novel Reviews  (Read 31243 times)

Hudson
Aug 19, 2014, 04:55:43 PM
Topic on: Aug 19, 2014, 04:55:43 PM
Q
So I made it a goal to read a bunch of Alien novels. A friend of mine is working at a conference this winter that's going to host Alan Dean Foster, so I wanted to read his novelizations and mail them to my pal to get autographed. I also thought, what the hell, since Brian Evenson wrote No Exit and is mostly known as a literary writer, I'd read that as well. I'm a creative writing student and I'm pretty sure I've had faculty that know him personally. Then I thought, fine I'll read all of the original novels and the three novelizations. I'll just come back here to post my two-cents on everything (since the only Alien books I've read so far are AvP: Prey and Original Sin) as I go through. You can chime in or throw rocks at me, or whatever. I'm not planning on reading the comic adaptations unless people recommend them. I'm more interested in the original stories outside the novelizations. Anyway, I've only gotten through 2 so far:

Alien - 3/5

I'd call this, to say the least, an "interesting" read. I don't really read a lot of sci-fi books, so if this is a good reference point as to the style of writing that permeates the genre, I can't say I'm all that interested to continue. Not that it was "bad" bad, but there are definitely a lot of loose adverbs floating around and the dialogue was just plain bad in many cases. A lot of telling writing, versus showing, which is what any instructor will harp on in a workshop. I'll cut Foster some slack because obviously he hadn't seen the movie or really been able to capture any of the characters from prior knowledge, unless he saw some dailies (which I doubt but I'm not sure) in which case there's no excuse. Parker in this novel is completely different from his film counterpart in a really awkward way I found. But obviously, seeing the film first, I'm biased. But I think I'm entitled to be since this is a novelization and not an original work.

I also had kind of a problem with focalization constantly changing from character to character, multiple times on a page even. Keeping a chapter from one character's point of view and shortening the chapters would've worked a lot better I think. Also, just the dialogue in general, Jesus. So much of the dialogue is really clunky and unwieldy and thank God the movie exists or I'd go crazy.

Overall it's a decent read I think, really insightful and kind of a cool alternate take on the story. After nearly 20 years spent watching Alien it's cool to get sort of a new perspective on the tale and it was worth spending a day off work reading. I'm studying a lot of literary work right now, so I'm pretty picky when it comes to the actual prose, and this seemed really rushed. It makes sense because it was an assignment sort of thing with a strict deadline.

Original Sin - 2/5

I took the weekend to re-read this, first time since 2005 and since Prometheus and whatnot. Again, pretty bland writing. Dialogue is really wishy-washy, no real swearing or anything which is baffling with the inclusion of Johner. Like this is a book based off of a young adult film series, marketed to teenagers. There were some moments where I could picture Ron Perlman in makeup saying the lines, and a lot of moments I couldn't. Same with Call. Vriess was almost completely useless and there were characters like Rama and Krakke who were totally unnecessary and taking up space that could have been devoted to building on the already established characters. Also, there was absolutely no reason to include so many botonist, scientist characters. They just became names. I'm thinking, oh great here's this guy Seigo who I know nothing about after 30 pages of him being introduced. Oh, here's Hendricks, a woman who's only description and interiority points to her being a ditz, which doesn't explain any reason for her to be around.

The story itself: stupid. What are there, like 5 cumulative pages of explaining the Alien mythos and tying up loose ends? I would use the term wishy-washy again just to describe the book overall. There's nothing edgy about it. It's a really safe story. Also, the aliens themselves are barely in it at all, and when they are there's nothing interesting going on. It seemed like a gimmick to have these space forest locations, but they don't seem fully realized or described. Friedman was not putting me in a place effectively at all. If you hadn't seen Resurrection before reading this, you'd have a hard time being able to physically picture anyone I think, or the Betty's appearance. On the aliens again, the only place they appear is in the forests, which is such a waste. The majority of the book places other forces at the forefront of being a threat to the characters. The shadow organization, etc. Remember that 10 or so minute timespan (or it seemed like 10 minutes) in the Alien 3 assembly where the alien is trapped and there's 3 or 4 consecutive scenes of just characters talking? It's dumb, boring, not scary, not suspenseful. When you've got a novel with ALIENS printed on the front in big, yellow letters, you need to give me ALIENS. The characters didn't even seem that afraid of the aliens. Ripley's like, "Oh here we go again," which is funny because that's what Weaver was always saying in interviews is the instinct to write her as, except by people like Cameron, Giler, and Hill. If the characters are bored, I'm guaranteed to be bored. It doesn't capture the spirit of the best films in the series, or even the best moments in the not-best films. Just really weak and boring as a book. I mean it was actively uninteresting to me, not just passively boring. It was like the book tried to not do anything character or setting wise to interest a reader who is a fan of the films. Mala'kak I believe is what the now-engineers were referred to as. Great, formulaic way to make up a name for an alien species. Think of two one-syllable made up words and put an apostrophe between them. Well done.

If Michael Jan Friedman is a fan of the films, he either had his hands tied by Fox in telling this story, or he just has no idea how to show his enthusiasm for the series.


« Last Edit: Feb 07, 2018, 09:55:08 PM by Hudson »

Ultramorph
Aug 20, 2014, 03:08:15 AM
Reply #1 on: Aug 20, 2014, 03:08:15 AM
Q
Nice reviews!

I too read Original Sin back when it first came out, and I remember thinking it was pretty bland, too. The Loki and Mala'kak angle came out of left field and went nowhere. I think it was an example of studio restrictions. As far as the Dark Horse Press books go, I think even "Steel Egg " was better, since it at least took some risks, even if they misfired spectacularly.  :laugh:

"Sea of Sorrows" did a better job picking up the post- Resurrecrion story, even if it had its own share of flaws.


SM
Aug 20, 2014, 03:12:43 AM
Reply #2 on: Aug 20, 2014, 03:12:43 AM
Q
Dunno if Huddo wants us spamming up the thread with our own reviews or not, but this is the thoughts of the me from 8 years ago:

Quote
Random thoughts after reading this a few weeks back.

-   Call was the only character who rang true from Resurrection.  We hardly heard from Vriess.  Johner was okay-ish.  Ripley was too much of a contradiction – she goes all out to help people, but speaks to them like they’re crap.  Didn’t match the softer, more human character we saw at the end of Resurrection.  Her words to the dying Simoni were excrutiatingly bad.
-   Simoni was really just a vessel for information for Ripley.  Although his death was unexpected, it would’ve been better if he remained alive to create conflict amongst the crew, rather than having the neat ending where the status quo at the beginning is matched perfectly at the end (to say nothing of Amanda Ripley conveniently being a journo).  The pilot chick and Rama didn’t have much to do, and Krakke was very similar to the ditched St Just from earlier drafts of Resurrection.  Would’ve preferred a bit more backstory for the new crewmembers – or indeed ANY backstory.
-   Speaking of the such things, the whole sequence of escaping through garden/ forest/ jungle is derivative of earlier drafts of Resurrection.
-   The backstory regarding the Jockies or Malakak or whatever they were called was very silly.  The fact it contradicted the existing EU and it’s stance on Jockies was neither here nor there, but it takes the conspiracy theory hinted at in the films to a ridiculous extreme.  Much better to leave these things mysterious.
-   Something being up with Cody and the other woman was flagged too early since they showed up on the Betty very unexpectedly.
-   Didn’t really have a problem with the Aliens being more numerous and having big heads.  Different stuff happens with the Aliens in each film, and Ripley only theorised as to what was going on, so rather than definatively saying “This is what’s what”, it’s only hinted at.

Overall it did keep me reading, but more to find out what other aspects of the universe had been mucked around with, than any real need to find out what happens to the characters.  In that regard I think some of the earlier novels worked better, without being encumbered by established characters.  I’m definitely interested in what happens to Ripley and co. post-Resurrection, but this didn’t especially thrill me.


Corporal Hicks
Aug 20, 2014, 09:28:59 AM
Reply #3 on: Aug 20, 2014, 09:28:59 AM
Q
Some nice thoughts. In regards to Foster and his POV jumping, it's my biggest issue too. He does it in all three novelizations. I can't remember if he does it in anything else - I recently picked up the STID novelization he wrote but haven't looked at it yet. The novelizations I can't rate - I think they have to be read, simply because of the differences. They're interesting in that matter.

Original Sin - I can barely remember. I read it once. I had to re-read my own review on the site to remember it. I remember hating the whole Loki/Jockey angle - although I do love the idea the reason behind why they needed the Aliens. I can't say I'm in any fuss to re-read it.

The whole DH Press run, I found lacking. It had moments - the first half of No Exit, the first half of Cauldron but over all, not great.

I'm much liking Titan's run so far - but it still has it's issues.


Hudson
Aug 20, 2014, 10:14:42 AM
Reply #4 on: Aug 20, 2014, 10:14:42 AM
Q
Agreed on the other points.

Simoni was pretty silly, unnecessary. His death was completely blah.

I just ordered all of the DH novels and the two new Alien novels, so I'll be back here now and then if I get time to read them. The semester's starting up and I'm about to have a shit ton of reading and writing to do, but I'll get myself through these eventually.

Anyone who wants to hijack this thread is welcome to do so.


HuDaFuK
Aug 20, 2014, 11:33:30 AM
Reply #5 on: Aug 20, 2014, 11:33:30 AM
Q
I read all four Alien novelisations not that long ago, in fact they were the first movie novelisations I'd ever read. I liked them all, in one way or another.

Alien was probably the least interesting purely because most of the changes it made kinda made things worse for me (like the eyes on the Facehugger and Alien), but it was still a well-written read and really tense at times.

Aliens was the best of the bunch, it added some great extra scenes. The only negative was the removal of all the harsh language, which really was distracting, I mean they're f*cking soldiers for c*nts sake.

Alien 3 started brilliantly but went downhill, you could Tell Foster's heart wasn't in it by about halfway through. It did explain a few things a little better though.

Alien Resurrection was kinda crap in terms of how it was written, but ironically I thought it was by far the most interesting of the bunch in terms of the stuff it added to the story, and it actually filled in a couple of gaping plot holes in the film.

« Last Edit: Aug 20, 2014, 11:35:50 AM by HuDaFuK »

SM
Aug 20, 2014, 10:13:53 PM
Reply #6 on: Aug 20, 2014, 10:13:53 PM
Q
Which gaping plot holes?


Hudson
Aug 20, 2014, 11:18:11 PM
Reply #7 on: Aug 20, 2014, 11:18:11 PM
Q
I read the young adult AR novelization (which exists for reasons that still confuse me) so I think I'm good. I don't really care about the "actual" novelization.


HuDaFuK
Aug 21, 2014, 07:02:41 AM
Reply #8 on: Aug 21, 2014, 07:02:41 AM
Q
Which gaping plot holes?

Why the Chestburster inside Purvis doesn't hatch for hours or even days after the rest of the kidnapped civilians impregnated with him, for one.

It also fixes Wren magically knowing exactly how many Aliens are left, even though he couldn't possibly be certain at the time.


SM
Aug 21, 2014, 07:37:31 AM
Reply #9 on: Aug 21, 2014, 07:37:31 AM
Q
I wouldn't call Purvis' thing a "plot hole", but yes, it is addressed.

And Wren's numbers were always wildly innaccurate depending on the script (where he said "twenty" - which I think was repeated in the novel?)


HuDaFuK
Aug 21, 2014, 07:46:27 AM
Reply #10 on: Aug 21, 2014, 07:46:27 AM
Q
I wouldn't call Purvis' thing a "plot hole", but yes, it is addressed.

I would. Everyone else pops and the USM have a nice bunch of Aliens to be playing around with for what seems like a decent amount of time, except this one guy who for some reason doesn't burst all the way through them climbing all over the Auriga, right up to the point where they've virtually escaped. No explanation is ever given for why this one takes so long in the film, when in every other film Chestbursters pop pretty rapidly after implantation. (Except Ripley's, which was a Queen. But they never even offer that as an explanation in the movie.)

And Wren's numbers were always wildly innaccurate depending on the script (where he said "twenty" - which I think was repeated in the novel?)

Yeah, in the book he says twenty. Except what he says is they originally bred twenty. That makes sense. He'd know that. In the film he says there are twelve left at the point he is asked. There's no way he could possibly know how many Aliens are still alive at that point, unless he's been watching all the carnage on a video monitor somewhere and counting how many have been killed in the breakout.

I know, hardly the biggest issue with the film, but it's always bugged the hell out of me.


SM
Aug 21, 2014, 08:20:26 AM
Reply #11 on: Aug 21, 2014, 08:20:26 AM
Q
Quote
(Except Ripley's, which was a Queen. But they never even offer that as an explanation in the movie.)

I always considered that as the moot explanation (beside Purvis being countdown clock).  He even does the thing of feeling it inside him like Ripley does.

Quote
Yeah, in the book he says twenty. Except what he says is they originally bred twenty. That makes sense. He'd know that. In the film he says there are twelve left at the point he is asked. There's no way he could possibly know how many Aliens are still alive at that point, unless he's been watching all the carnage on a video monitor somewhere and counting how many have been killed in the breakout.

He was with Call and the Betty crew, so all he knew was that there were all the Aliens, minus the one Ripley just shot.

What bugged me more was that both numbers - twenty and twelve - are wrong compared to the number of hosts brought on board.

And his delivery of "Twelve" in the film, is way better than "We originally bred twenty".  Especially considering how long the little chats they have in the film are already.


HuDaFuK
Aug 21, 2014, 08:28:44 AM
Reply #12 on: Aug 21, 2014, 08:28:44 AM
Q
I always considered that as the moot explanation (beside Purvis being countdown clock).  He even does the thing of feeling it inside him like Ripley does.

I suppose. Doesn't really help that when it does pop it looks nothing like the infant Queen from Alien 3. But then again, neither did the one taken from Ripley.

I just find it odd that they had an explanation all set up for it (a stupid one, but in the stupid world of Alien Resurrection it kinda worked) and then decided to cut all trace of it from the film. Like they were actively trying for things to make less sense.

What bugged me more was that both numbers - twenty and twelve - are wrong compared to the number of hosts brought on board.

Yeah, that whole situation really annoys me. Again, it really wouldn't have taken much effort to make the numbers tie up.


SM
Aug 21, 2014, 08:40:42 AM
Reply #13 on: Aug 21, 2014, 08:40:42 AM
Q
Quote
Doesn't really help that when it does pop it looks nothing like the infant Queen from Alien 3.

Too young.  Ripley's embryo took around 3 days to gestate.  Purvis' was maybe gestating for 24 hours tops.

Quote
I just find it odd that they had an explanation all set up for it (a stupid one, but in the stupid world of Alien Resurrection it kinda worked) and then decided to cut all trace of it from the film.

If you mean the thyroid thing - I think Crispin came up with that.  Don't recall seeing it in any of Whedon's scripts.


HuDaFuK
Aug 21, 2014, 08:59:31 AM
Reply #14 on: Aug 21, 2014, 08:59:31 AM
Q
Too young.  Ripley's embryo took around 3 days to gestate.  Purvis' was maybe gestating for 24 hours tops.

Then surely it wouldn't be able to survive birthing that early? I mean yeah, he was getting shot to shit by Wren, but you can't just shave off two thirds fo your typical gestation period and expect to survive.

Plus, what the hell is with it giving Purvis superpowers?!

If you mean the thyroid thing - I think Crispin came up with that.  Don't recall seeing it in any of Whedon's scripts.

Ah I see. Well I thought it was far better than no explanation.


 

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