Would you believe it? It’s 30 years since James Cameron’s Aliens, the film that turned the franchise from Sir Ridley Scott’s reworked haunted house movie into a Space Marines running about shouting and shooting fest, a kind of future set Western where it’s OK to cheer on the good guys, because the things they are shooting up are not actually other people, so they have got to be the good guys right?
To mark this momentous event our pals at Titan Books have just twinned two all new Alien novels in The Complete Aliens Omnibus: Volume 2.
Set in a post-xenomorph invasion Earth, David Bischoff’s Genocide sees human kind wiping out the last alien nests on the planet. And since no cloud is without a concealed silver lining scientists discover that a secretion produced by the Queen, known as Royal Jelly, has some remarkable performance enhancing properties. Naturally the military want some of this action so a space ship is dispatched to an alien infested planet under the command of Colonel Alexandra Kozlowski. along for the ride is the shifty MD of one of Earth’s biggest Pharma companies hoping to make enough cash to buy off the mob.
When Kozlowski and co arrive they find the traditional black xenomorphs at war with a genetically mutated red strain. So with the critters divided it should be easy to sneak into the hive, collect loads of Royal Jelly and make a run for it, shouldn’t it?
Genocide is a pretty straight forward space marine story with plenty of ‘shoot em up action’, a hint of romance and a bit of double-cross. It’s an undemanding read, but the characters are completely one-dimensional.
Robert Sheckley’s Alien Harvest is a different matter altogether. Again as the name implies we have folks off to an Alien infested planet to nab some Royal Jelly, only this time we have a much more interesting and well imagined cast that include: a cybernetics scientist who is dying of cancer and seeking if not a cure, an extension of his life; a glamorous lady thief; trained in the mysterious arts of oriental burglary (I still would not trust her with the tea club money though); a washed up space freighter captain with an android first mate and a crew of convicts working their way to an early release; plus of course Norbert, a robot xenomorph and Mac, a cute little dog.
Now the object of Dr Stan Myakovsky’s quest is not quite as honest as Colonel Kozlowski’s, his ambition is to nick a load of already harvested Royal Jelly collected buy an illegal Bio-Pharm company mission. Bio-Pharm’s wicked Captain Potter of the bad ship Lancet isn’t going to like that is he? Neither are the Aliens. Now you are going to have to read the novel to find out if the dog buys the farm, but Alien Harvest is a much more imaginative read than Genocide especially when Norbert goes undercover to infiltrate the Alien hive.
A no nonsense if unimaginative ‘shoot em up’ actioner I give Genocide a 333/666
A more complex and thoughtful Sci-Fi thriller with better rounded characters and superior dialogue I give Alien Harvest a 555/666
The Complete Aliens Omnibus: Volume 2 is out now from Titan Books: £8.99 UK : $9.99 USA: $12.99 Canada .