Wednesday 14 October 2020

Book Review: Predator: If It Bleeds

Book Review: Predator: If It Bleeds

Review Written by Casey Douglass

Predator: If It Bleeds

I found myself in the mood for some Yautja-fueled, violent entertainment a few weeks ago, so when Titan Books’ Predator: If It Bleeds was suggested in my Amazon recommendations, it didn’t take much for me to buy it. It’s a collection of sixteen stories from some of the authors you’ll already likely be familiar with if you’ve read any of the various Alien/Predator comics and novels over the years, authors such as Tim Lebbon, John Shirley, Kevin J. Anderson, S.D Perry and Steve Perry.

Many of the tales in Predator: If It Bleeds drop the Yautja into a novel period of human history, pitting the humans of that time against the alien hunter. Other stories are set in the harsh, sci-fi future that I personally prefer, but that’s not to say that the historical ones weren’t fun. The best of these, in my opinion, came from Larry Correia and is called Three Sparks. It is set in Samurai era Japan, and it answers the question: How would a samurai fare against a Yautja warrior? I think what makes this one particularly enjoyable is the craftiness of the main character, the stubborn prejudices of the people in charge, and the way that the skirmishes with the Yautja play-out.

Another tale that stands out for me is Drug War by Bryan Thomas Schmidt and Holly Roberds. It reacquaints us with two of the characters from Predator 2: Mike Harrigan and Garber (Adam Baldwin’s left-hand-man to Gary Busey’s Peter Keys). It takes place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, some years after the events of the second film. I felt it was really nice to see Harrigan and Garber cross paths again, especially in such a different setting when compared to L.A. As you might expect, another guest pops-up in their reunion, causing them both to have to face the monster of their past once again.

Of the tales set in the future, I think Jonathan Maberry’s Gameworld is my favourite. Set among “the rocks”, the asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars, Gameworld is a place where all kinds sketchy things can take place. In the words of the story: “If you wanted to bet on it, have sex with it, eat it, or kill it, Chiba could set it up.” (Chiba being the mastermind trillionaire who created it). The main thing Chiba has a penchant for, is fights between all manner of creatures, human, animal, and transgenic mixtures of the two. A tiger with snake jaws and puffer fish toxin being just one example. I’m sure you can guess who, or what, the hapless protagonist (not Chiba) of this tale ends up having to face. This story was such good fun.

Another future-based tale that I found a lot of enjoyment in was Kevin J. Anderson’s Indigenous Species. Set on a colony planet racked with hardship, that happens to be called Hardscrabble, the story sees the settlers struggling against the local environment and the local giant, vicious beasts called gruzzlys. These creatures are a menace to the colonists and their livestock, and, wouldn’t you know it, a certain mask-wearing, cloaking race of aliens think that the creatures make for excellent trophies. This doesn’t necessarily solve the colonists’ problem, but gives them one more thing to worry about. I loved the other-worldly setting of this story, and the double dose of being alone on a strange planet on the one hand, and alone, against various threats on top of this. A double heap of trouble, you might say.

Even though I’ve only mentioned four stories in any depth, the others were all well worth a read. The only ones that I didn’t really click with were those in settings that didn’t really interest me, but even these often managed to have something to keep me reading. I also enjoyed the stories that made good use of switching between the human and Yautja points of view, such as Steve Perry’s Rematch and S.D Perry’s Skeld’s Keep. This gives the reader an excellent insight into what’s going on in the Yautja’s alien brain, when plans go wrong, or they find themselves facing a heavy defeat.

If you fancy reading some short Predator-based tales, stories that flit through history and set some of the human world’s various warriors against the stealthy hunters, Predator: If it Bleeds is a collection of stories that you should definitely take a look at.

Book Title: Predator: If It Bleeds

Book Author: Anthology

Publisher: Titan Books

Released: 17 Oct 2017

ISBN: 9781785655401

Current Price: £7.39 (paperback) / £3.99 (Kindle) (As of on 12th Oct 2020)