Saturday 25 January 2020

Dark Book Review: Alien: Prototype

Dark Book Review: Alien: Prototype

Review by Casey Douglass

Alien: Prototype

I seem to devour books set in the Alien universe faster than almost any other story. There’s just something about the bleak evil corporation mentality, the vast distances and the Xenomorph, a creature that still makes me shiver at how cool it damn well is. Titan Books has a whole host of novels that fill in gaps in the Alien chronology and they’re all well worth a read if you’re an Alien fan. Tim Waggoner’s Alien: Prototype is the latest release, and I recently treated myself to the Kindle edition with some left over Xmas money.

Alien: Prototype opens with some deep-space piracy. Tamar Prather is a spy who has been tasked with hanging around unsavoury types, the kind that attack and ransack other spacecraft. She is there because Venture, a Weyland-Yutani competitor, is always on the look out for valuable swag that can give it an edge against the other mega-corporations. And wouldn’t you know it, Tamar steals a very precious cargo. Ovoid. Glistening. You get the picture. This “prize” ends up at The Lodge, Venture’s facility on a planet called Jericho 3. The arrival of the egg precipitates events, much like one of those naughty chaos butterflies, but whipping up its own kind of dark hurricane.

The egg falls into the hands of Dr Gagnon, the stereotypical “mad scientist” type who becomes fascinated with the organism it contains. He also has no real morals holding him back from certain kinds of experiments, the kind that don’t often end well. He ends up with a Xenomorph, but there are complications. It’s not the same as the regular variety of Xeno, this one has picked up an extra ingredient in its mixture, one that makes it even deadlier than the normal kind. I know it’s a bit difficult to imagine how a creature like this could be any more dangerous. Maybe the mental image of a great white shark with a machine gun will serve here. Nope, this Xeno is far more dangerous than that!

As with any decent Alien tale, this Xeno is faced by people who are determined to stop it running amok. Zula Hendricks is an ex-Colonial Marine who has turned her hand to training a more civilian kind of security force, and it is her group of wet-behind-the-ears recruits that have to swallow their fear and face something truly dangerous, rather than the various neutered experiences they have received in their training to date. I won’t say much more as I really don’t want to spoil the sense of discovery you’ll get if you decide to read the book.

Alien: Prototype is a fun, relatively fast-paced book, with so many of the elements that I enjoy in an Alien novel. There is greed, some synthetic humans, and a bit of creature worship, along with a variety of encounters and combat situations that keep the interest. There are the typical scenes where the unaware get jumped by the Xeno, and there are scenes where the “very much aware” clash with it in desperate combat. There is some novel use of technology at times, and the “extra danger” this Xenomorph embodies is a really nice touch to add a splash of novelty to proceedings.

If you enjoyed any of the other Titan Books novels, such as Out of the Shadows or The Cold Forge, I think you’ll enjoy Alien: Prototype. If you’ve yet to dip into this series of novels, but love the Alien universe, I also think you’ll enjoy this book.

(Alien: Prototype takes place between the Alien: Isolation book and the Aliens: Resistance comic series.)

Book Title: Alien: Prototype
Book Author: Tim Waggoner
Publisher: Titan Books
Published: October 2019
ISBN: 9781789090918
RRP: $8.99 (paperback)