Saturday, January 07, 2006

Aliens: Original Sin Review

Aliens: Original Sin is a new novel set in the Alien universe, and the first new Alien novel to be released in about 6 years. The novel picks up a few years after the end of Alien: Resurrection while continuing to follow the crew of the Betty. Ripley 8, Call, Johner, and Vriess all return along with some new faces as they seek to stop a shadowy organization from breeding aliens on an innocent colony.

Traditionally, stories set in the expanded Alien universe take place aboard a remote research station where some mad scientist or General is breading aliens for one insane, power hungry purpose or another. However Aliens: Original Sin differs from this set up a bit by having a lack of a visible, key villian. Much is hinted at with this new shadow organization, leaving a lot of room for expansion on their part and the potential for interesting future tales. There are even some interesting developments regarding the Pilot (Space Jockey) race.

The mood and pacing of the novel are traditionally Alien. Slow building at first leading to chaotic and dark and gory. The author, Michael Jan Friedman, has mostly borrowed themes and elements from Alien and of course Alien: Resurrection, and it's interesting to read how he's incorporated the memories of Ellen Ripley to further develop Ripley 8 and her own sense of morality. In fact, Friedman does a very good job at expanding on all of the established characters, keeping their feel right from the films, but also adding the detailed purposes needed to make the novel work.

One problem Aliens: Original Sin does have, however, and this is common in many of the expanded universe novels, is that once the story stops building and gets going the pacing is too fast. Characters are knocked off too quickly and the story, the actual crisis the characters were fighting against the aliens, feels as though it should have gone on longer.

Despite a somewhat rushed finish, however, it's good to see another Alien novel on the shelves. If you're a fan of the Alien franchise, you'll want to pick up Aliens: Original Sin. In March we'll be seeing a new Predator novel, Predator: Forever Midnight, and in April the next Alien novel, Aliens: DNA War will be released.

Let's hope these three novels are the start of many more to come.

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