Alien: Out of the Shadows by Tim Lebbon

Canonical Alien Series

As a child, Chris Hooper dreamed of monsters. But in deep space, he found only darkness and isolation. Then on planet LV178, he and his fellow miners discovered a storm-scoured, sand-blasted hell - and trimonite, the hardest material known to man.

When a shuttle crashed into the mining ship Marion, the miners learn that there was more than trimonite deep in the caverns. There was evil, hibernating - and waiting for suitable prey.

Hoop and his associates uncover a nest of Xenomorphs, and hell takes on new meaning. Quickly they discover that their only hope lies with the unlikeliest of saviors...

Ellen Ripley, the last human survivor of the salvage ship Nostromo.

Thirty-seven years of nightmares, she thought. And now that I’m awake, the nightmare has woken with me.

I’m not the type to usually jump on the bandwagon for Sci-fi series, but the Alien series has always been my soft spot. I’ve watched the first two several times, collected the expensive but irresistibly huge DVD box set when it was released, and a few EBay collector items and limited figures. I’ve always wanted to read books on the series – the only thing that’s surprised me is I waited this long.

I’ve rea d a few books by Tim Lebbon and he’s a gifted author who usually dabbles in the horror or thriller scene. I’ve always found the Alien scene particularly creepy and an excellent example of how well science fiction and horror make a fascinating marriage of genres. There aren’t any complains about the writing style, dialogue or the characterization. No one comes across flat and all serve their appropriate purpose for the most part.

It’s fitting to start an Alien series with Ripley, and the way this was done to squeeze it in between the first and second movies cannon was creative and stylish. Sometimes there was an overdose of flashbacks to her daughter Amanda and imagined horror scenarios for her child. This especially got heavy later on – a bit too much so – but I think the point of that was setting up a particular technological technique to be seductive and reassuring rather than unrealistic.

If you got chills from the android Ash from the original movie, you’ll get plenty of him here – not in physical form, of course, but that’s not even needed with the communication with him and Ripley and some of the “letters”.

The start is interesting with a different group, and I dug the dynamics of the people when they all merged, but it did tend to slow down and drag on a bit when they were at the heart of the Alien trouble. It almost stopped feeling like a genuine alien story and it’s mainly a game of cat and mouse chasing.

The idea is creative and well executed, although the details can sometimes be a bit lackluster. It was nice to see Ripley in between voyages and how the mother angle would tie in so highly in the second movie (story) by bringing up her daughter so often and strongly. I did think the romantic element was a little false, but it also made sense because desperation and loneliness make people clatch on to any new person they can, especially to replace personal loss.

We don’t get many cool scenes with the alien mouth-thing, but we get tons of emphasis on the acid blood and the chest incubation.

Book Quotes

He was the stuff of the stars, and when he was a young boy—dreaming of monsters, and looking to space in the hope that he would find them—that had made him feel special. Now, it only made him feel small.