Finally finished The Cold Forge. Not caught up with this thread, but my thoughts in general:
I'm kind of surprised to see such rave reviews for this book. Not because I don't like it, but it seemed to be in a similar vein as Criminal Enterprise in that the Aliens were somewhat incidental. That makes the science-fiction aspect of the story feel interchangeable with other licensed properties, or just original ideas. The strong points for me were the entertaining characters. They were all essentially unlikable, but there was nothing boring that accompanied any of their interactions or personalities. For instance, I remember that there were a lot of characters in Steel Egg, but I don't remember any other than the ridiculous mad scientist and the captain. I think I'd even remember the character names in The Cold Forge for some time after reading it, if not indefinitely. The interjecting short chapters which brought in some walk-on narrators were also fun, and overall I did enjoy the dual viewpoint character setup of the book.
I thought most of the canonical tying-in came from the paratext on the back of the book, while mere name-drops within the novel of characters who appeared in Aliens were not satisfying. There was plenty of interesting stuff set up in the 2014 novel trilogy, ALL OF IT (or correct me if I'm wrong) going untapped in The Cold Forge, which felt like a weak copout.
Seemed like an appropriate origin point for the XX121 thing which I've now seen referenced in...Sea of Sorrows and The Weyland Yutani Report? So I guess they're not committing to it?
I guess I just felt the placement of this book within the film series to be mostly in name only, and not very substantial. References to Seegson were pretty superficial, and will only resonate with people who played Isolation. I still have questions about this as well (in spoilers below).
My other big complaint is that while the dialogue in certain situations was fine, any time there was a contentious interaction or someone got mad, the spoken dialogue from most characters came through as if an angry teenager was speaking.
Overall I'd place The Cold Forge in between Berserker and Sea of Sorrows. Out of the Shadows is still my favorite of the Alien novels/novelizations. Despite the fact that The Cold Forge is the longest of them all, I did find that it moved pretty quick and was never 'boring.' I would have had plenty more to say, but it took me a bit longer to read this than it should have considering I got burnt out with reading and took an extended break, so I don't have all my thoughts collected as I did when I first started it in April. For me, it was a fun read, but wasn't "as Alien" for me as I hope for as a fan, such as how I took Out of the Shadows. So yeah, I thought it was decent, but I wasn't enthralled.
Some other nitpicks:
- egregious reference to "USMC" instead of "USCM" at one point, don't have the page #
- characters sneaking past Aliens which were asleep? great way to cheapen the title property
- did Seegson get bought out by Weyland-Yutani in Isolation, or did they just buy Sevastapol?