Hello Readers! Once again we will travel into the realms of science fiction and the unknown through the characters and world of Alien. Last time I ventured into the Alien novel franchise, it was through James A. Moore’s novel ALIEN: Sea of Sorrows. This time, we will be exploring the thrilling and terrifying world of Alien through Christopher Golden’s ALIEN: River of Pain. Unlike Moore’s novel that took place centuries after Ellen Ripley’s first encounter with the Xenomorph, Golden’s whole new story shows us what happened between the Blockbuster Films Alien and Aliens. Through old and new characters, familiar and strange settings and never before see back stories, what will the Colonial Marines, Scientists and Colonists find on planet LV-426 Acheron (the original sighting of the monster known as Alien)? Let’s find out in the adventures and horror-filled investigations of Alien: River of Pain.
Our story begins from the point of view of Ellen Ripley on the Nostromo spaceship after one of her crew members has been attacked during an investigation of planet LV-426. Fifty-seven years later, Ripley awakens to discover that she is safe at Gateway Station away from the horrible creatures that nearly killed her. Still terrorized by the alien creatures in her nightmares, Ripley tries to convince Carter Burke and the other members of the Weyland-Yutani Company that what she experienced on LV-426 was real and responsible for the deaths of her entire crew. Frustrated by their disbelief, Ripley’s worst fears come to life when she is informed that not only is LV-426 still in the company’s interest, but is the settlement for their colony; making it a home for the company’s scientists, marines, surveyors and sixty to seventy families.
On LV-426 Acheron, the Colony also know as Hadley’s Hope has been operational for about twenty years. Scientists, colonial marines and colonists have been working together to make the planet livable as they survey research for the company. Among these colonists are Weyland-Yutani scientists Dr. Reese, Dr. Mori and Dr. Hidalgo, colonial marine Captain Brackett and his team and Wildcatters Anne and Russ Jorden with their two children: Tim and the colony’s first newborn Rebecca, also known as Newt. When given orders to investigate the remains of a discovered vessel presumed to be an empty ruin, the colonists and their team assume what they will find there is exactly what they have been looking for all these years. Little do they know what dangerous and terrifying creatures await them!
Right from the start, this novel had my attention and filled me with excitement. Recapping who Ellen Ripley is and what she went through on her first journey into space creates a good base and context for the story. It is set up to pull readers into the plot and keeps them in suspense. Instead of having one protagonist, there are many with this ensemble of characters throughout the novel. You get to know what they are thinking, feeling and experiencing through many different points of view. You see the economic and scientific perspective through the scientists working on behalf of the Weyland-Yutani Company, the orderly and efficient perspective of the marines assigned to the colony to follow orders and you get the personal perspective through the colonists wanting to make a home and a new life at this settlement.
All the characters are very honest portrayals of real people and the relationships they have with each other is very relatable. Through Anne and Russ Jorden, you see the different aspects of marriage; the struggles as well as the love and trust. Through Captain Brackett and his newly assigned squad of marines, you see the experience of being an outsider taking charge of a group of people that have worked together for years. And through Dr. Hidalgo working with Dr. Mori and Dr. Reese, you see the moral struggle of working with others who do not have the same values and views of what is right and wrong. From the beginning to the terrifying and carnage-filled ending, you as a reader are captivated, intrigued and filled with fear for these characters.
This story fits well between the blockbuster films Alien (1979) and Aliens (1986), starring Sigourney Weaver. It connects them together and explains the back story behind the character of Newt and what happened to everyone she knew.If you have never seen either of these movies, that is quite alright because the novel is set up to be a story on its own. Like I stated above, the character of Ellen Ripley and her experiences are explained so you are not confused with what is going on. You also understand how she connects to what is happening on the Planet LV-426, 57 years after the initial story. The plot, story and characters all experience a beginning, middle and end that is easy to follow and filled with high-intensity. Any new comer to the franchise that is interested in space, discovery, horror and science with enjoy this novel.
If you are looking for a Science-Fiction novel filled with action, suspense and exciting characters, this is the story for you. I recommend Alien: River of Pain to readers who enjoy creepy, exciting and suspenseful stories, as well as to fans of the Alien film and novel franchise. New comers and old fans of the original Alien films will love this captivating and suspenseful novel that reveals what happened between Ellen Ripley’s original encounters with the Aliens. Whether it’s an adventure into the weird and mysterious worlds of the unknown or the love of encounters in deep space, there is something here for any reader of Science-Fiction; for “In space no one can hear you scream!”
ALIEN: River of Pain is available through Titan Books.
If you’re gonna Geek out, Geek Hard!