Hunter’s Planet is the second in the three Alien vs Predator novel series and the only original one. Unlike the other two, this novel isn’t written by one of the Perry’s or based on a comic written by Randy Stradley. What we have here is a novel written by David Bischoff, but what is the novel like? Hunter’s Planet follows on from Prey, but instead of finding Machiko Noguchi still with the clan of Predators from the end of Prey, we find her in an office on some boring mining planet along with her android, Atilla the Hun. The pair are hired by one Livermore Evanston, who owns the planet Blior. On Blior, Evanston is setting up a “Hunter’s Planet”, somewhere where people who can afford it would come and hunt all sort of exotic prey. They don’t know the half of it. When the planet mysteriously falls under an Alien “infestation”, Evanston calls upon Machiko to lead a team of mercenaries to exterminate the aliens.
This planet has also been used for hundreds of years, as a hunting ground for the Predators. When one of their clan leaders is mysteriously killed by a gun wielding Alien, the rest of his clan decide to exterminate the human and alien occupants on their planet. Sounds simple enough doesn’t it. One of my major gripes with this novel is that it is too slow. Far too slow. It doesn’t pick up to until somewhere around half way through and what kept me going was this mysterious secret being kept from Machiko and Attila, or Til as he is called. While doing a recon, Machiko comes across a clan of Predators battling a T-Rex. Upon confronting Evanston about this, we find out that all the prey are cloned and that means they could be cloning anything. And it’s here where the secret lays.
This secret kept me going throughout the novel, kept me reading, but what was it I hear you all asking? If you don’t want to know just skip a head. Evanston was actually cloning Aliens. Well not so much as cloned than making. He was creating cyborg Aliens, ones which he could control and take over worlds with. Makes you wonder if Rebellion got the idea for the Xenoborgs from this novel. How does that effect the novel though? They replace the Aliens, simply. But that’s not the half of it, they don’t even start going until the last forty or fifty pages of the novel. The first half of the novel is essentially Machiko and Atilla, with a bit of Evanston and the others thrown in there to establish the planet and various other things. The novel doesn’t feel very AvPy..(I know it isn’t a word). The lack of Aliens, and minimal presence of the Predator effect the feel and pleasure of reading this novel. It’s more about the two main characters.
Atilla is a weird sort of android. He doesn’t really act like the androids, more along the lines of a psychologist on crack. Not only that but, he even breaks Asimov’s laws and kills a human torwards the end of the novel: Bad Attila. One thing that is evident though is the amount of surprises this guy has. Laser weapons in his head and he can even speak Predator. Machiko even falls in love. Can you believe it? Hard assed girl like her. And the mercenaries? They were pretty much two-dimensional characters who were only there to provide a couple of renegrades at the end for the climax of the novel to help Machiko and her allies into the colony. Machiko manages to team up with the Predators to destroy all the Xenoborgs. Only the one mercenary, Sanchez, who Machiko falls in love with has a background. One I think which came from Bischoff’s Alien novel, Genocide. He was essentially a bug killer, who last his best friend during a mission.
Where this novel does shine though, is the conspiracy, the way it all links together. We eventually find out that Atilla being sold to Machiko wasn’t an accident. He was sold to her by some mysterious sub-group of the Company. They saw that Evanston would try and do something like create Xenoborg soldiers to attempt domination. They wanted Machiko to team up with them.
What did I think about this novel in the end? Having loving Bischoff’s Alien Genocide, I was really disappointed in this novel. It has some brilliant ideas, such as the Xenoborg but manages to ruin that with bad pacing, continuity foul ups (didn’t fit with the third novel War) and the very, very stupid character of Atilla. I did enjoy the last half though, even though the novel lacked the Aliens. It was worth the initial read and I am glad I got it, but it isn’t something I’d read again. It doesn’t bode well for original AvP novels, since this one wasn’t what it could be.