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3.8 out of 5 stars
Alien - Out of the Shadows (Book 1) (Alien Trilogy 1)
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 11 April 2014
Read some reviews of this book from some geeky sites I frequent, reviewers seemed to like it, so I picked it up on the kindle when I saw it.

Now having been through the book, I am annoyed at myself for buying this book.

1st of all, I wont treat this game as canon to the Alien franchise (much the same way as the awful Colonial Marines game)

Characters randomly in this book say phrases lifted directly out of Alien and Aliens.

The whole Ripley being awakened during her hyper-sleep voyage in the Narcissus (the book it set between Alien and Aliens) is not a great hook, as you know Ripley survives, so you get no sense of danger for her and don't get me started on the plot point as to how she manages to get to this situation

No character really stands out as someone to get invested in

Save your money and buy something good to do with the Alien films, such as the Alien Vault
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 3 February 2014
I am an fanboy of the franchise and i was excited to learn about this new trilogy of books so i preordered it. My hopes and dreams of what this book might of been where crushed within the first handful of pages. (spoilers ahead).

First problem - story.
I was hoping for a back story to the first film about all the dodgy dealings that led to that discovery of the alien. I was wanting an expansion on what the first film brought. Another side of the story and something to bridge the gap between the first and second film with a side order of Prometheus. what i got was this. Huge mining vessel orbits a planet and works along side mining colony on planets surface. Crew of mining colony find something they didn't expect. All hell breaks loose and then disaster manages to get to mining vessel in orbit via drop ship.
CAN ANYONE SAY "DEAD SPACE." This story is almost identical to the console game that i knew what was going to happen before it did. The main character is even an engineer. Now whilst the author has more than likely played "dead space." Im not convinced he has seen the film Alien.

Second problem - Cannon.
The book makes reference to the first film a number of times, and in almost every occasion gets it wrong. Example, its not Lamberts arm we see hanging down and swinging when Ripley discovers her and Parkers body. Its her leg, with a broken toe. The Narcissus shuttle that Ripley uses to escape from the Nostromo has TWO hyper sleep pods not one.The same shuttle also has a window on its rear hatch so someone on the outside could look in. I could go on and on. Then theres the use of devices that are clearly supposed to be iPads and what not. The Alien film is amongst other things, low fi- sic fi. And even Aliens for that matter. I.E they were science fiction films portrayed in a realistic fashion using known technologies of the time. And devices like iPads didn't exist in 1979 0r 1986. So to add current technology into this all ready very well established universe just feels wrong.

Third problem - Characters.
Theres a frenchman who is basically a hudson rip off. completes with sayings like "Game over man" and "Now all we need is a deck of cards" (That was hicks i know but you get my point). Theres also a Parker and Brett duo. The main character, an engineer called "Hoop" is a good character, he's a flawed everyday man with an interesting backstory who just wants an easy ride but steps up to the plate when everything goes wrong and i found myself rooting for him. I didn't however root for the will it won't it love story that plays out between him and Ripley that just made me want to vomit up a chestburster. Then theres, incase you haven't already guessed it, Ripley. last survivor of the Nostromo. From the moment she is introduced into this story you know how its going to end. Because all this stuff happens to her with the crew of this mining vessel and she never mentions it when she gets to gateway station. I wonder how they figure that out??? And the way she manages to get back into nice clean clothes and in her hypersleep pod is almost cringe worthy. Then theres the day dreams and nightmares that Ripley has about her daughter that just repeat themselves over and over and over again on almost every other page to the point where it gets boring. OK I get it, theres a computer game coming out at the end of the year that has Amanda Ripley as the main protagonist, you don't need to shove it down my throat. And Ripley is not written very well either. I just found myself not believing the lines she was delivering. Then theres Ash. Yes, that Ash, who seems to have developed feelings of loneliness and.......oh my god your just destroying this for me Tim. please stop writing. please just stop.

Fourth problem - The aliens them selves.
Yet again we find ourselves in James Cameron territory where the intergalactic space bug is nothing more than cannon fodder. And i say space bug because words like, insect, insectile, reptilian, bug and scuttle to name a few are used to describe the title monsters. Gone and seemingly removed from history is HR Giger's nightmarish demon like bio-mechanoid, engineered weapon of truly alien origin. There is a section in the book where a new alien is introduced, i think. but my mind was switching off. I think the idea came from the Aliens colonial marines game so the less said the better. The book does introduce us to an alien queen before its fully matured into its egg laying majesty. But it gets barley a couple of lines before its blown apart by a plasma cannon. And then theres the entirely different species of alien that look like dogs or something that for me just didn't work. Not when we still know absolutely nothing about the "space jockey" or "engineers" and a back story about them could be endless and go in many different directions. The dog E.T's might have been a good idea but by the time they enter the story any hope with this novel for me has been crushed.

Final thoughts.
It's OK. The book picks up towards the end, and theres a scene with Ash and a Russian medic thats particularly horrific and i didn't see coming because i thought something else was going to happen. so i was pleasantly caught off guard. The character of Hoop as I've already said is a good one for the most part and i would like to see him in the next book. But over all.....well....i hope the next two books in the trilogy elevate themselves. This is from a fan boy who actually enjoys watching Alien Resurrection, so i don't expect much.

But i will leave you with this. There is a scene where two of the crew members catch a fully grown alien with a net.
Oh but its ok because its a carbon fibre net.
Its a net.
(Bury my face in my hands). How the mighty have fallen.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Someone said recently, was it Richard Dawkins, that the universe is not hostile, only indifferent. Ridley Scott’s initial terrifying vision with his film ‘Alien’ was to give us a universe that was both hostile and indifferent to man. A supreme expression of such a universe was the evolutionary apex of a hunter-killer, as designed by H R Giger, a nightmare poster child of the horror in the dark.
Since that film several different directors have given us their various takes on this nightmare, battling studio interference and the law of diminishing returns. We’ve also had novelisations, novels and graphic novels, all seeking to expand this nightmare universe and its protagonists, and take it in new directions.
Tim Lebbon’s novel ‘Out of the Shadows’ is a direct sequel to Scott’s first film, and is reasonably close to the vision and ascetic of that film. It has huge, grimy industrial ships, and a crew that seem to be more ‘truckers in space’ rather than Han Solo heroes. Other echoes to the original include an awe inspiring alien space-craft, artefacts and remains of another alien race, a rocky, wind-blasted planet, and the machinations of ‘the Company,’ Weyland Yutani. And, of course, it has those terrifying Xenomorphs. It also nods to the universe of the sequels, with references to the Marines, and even some of the “what Gods made these” philosophising the oddly misfiring Prometheus gave us.
But it’s also, thankfully and most importantly, a rattling good story and read in its own right.
Ship’s engineer Chris Hooper, aboard the deep space mining orbital ‘the Marion,’ is jolted from his workaday routine when two shuttles from the surface make a frantic dash back for the Marion, pursued apparently by something that terrifies them. This ends with a violent crash, and the lives of the Marion’s crew are now plunged into the horror of an alien infestation, as they also struggle to work out the fate of the miners on the planet’s surface, and the trajectory of their ruined, falling space-station. They then rescue a life-boat, the Narcissus, containing the sleeping form of one Ellen Ripley, and the true horror of their situation begins to dawn.
The story is well paced, using cinematic set pieces and suspenseful build-ups to violent confrontation as the crew unravel the mystery, and Ripley’s story joins theirs. I enjoyed particularly the feeling that all the sequels were being forgotten, and the whole Alien story was being reset to the point that ‘Alien’ finished. It certainly has the tighter, grimier focus of the first film. However, connivances towards the end point at efforts to slot this into the franchise, which felt a disappointment. The sequels got so stupid in the forced continuity of their story arc; a big refresh would have been welcome.
I also enjoyed the reintroduction of Ash, as a homicidal AI programme bent on the continuation of his ‘find and return’ mission of the first film. Peering out balefully from cctv cameras and monitors, he outdoes 2001’s HAL as the omnipresent psycho computer with a cultured and mannered voice. His transmissions to the Company punctuating the narrative are well done.
There is real tension, jarring shocks and the merciless ‘offing’ of characters you would expect from an Alien story. The other alien race is interesting, and there are similarities to the ‘Space jockeys’ of the first film, before Prometheus muddied the waters. The mines are an effective setting, both claustrophobic, with dark corridors, and agoraphobic, opening up into massive chambers containing derelict spacecraft (and lots of Aliens).
What doesn’t work so well? A few of the ‘set pieces’ seem weirdly ineffective, like the perspective is too distant. The initial crash is like this, being viewed through a scanner that in turn looks through a ship’s window. Some of the Alien attacks also feel rushed. Also as mentioned, the contrivances at the end of the story that force it into the wider movie franchise are clever but unconvincing. I was so hoping for the boldness of an approach that would reimagine the whole sequel-scape.
But these gripes aside (as someone says in original movie “quit griping”), this is an above par Alien story that re-introduces the sub-space chills of that very first encounter.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 2 December 2014
Alien and Aliens are my favourite films and the books are good too,both of them start normally and slowly build up to a terrifying conclusion where Ripley ends up winning against the powerful beast or beasts.But this book goes headlong into stomach churning violence and death,I got bored and stopped reading it
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on 27 January 2015
I think for me, this book is a bit like a holiday resort I went to as a kid, then returned as an adult, expecting the same magic. Alas it really doesn't happen like that. As a die hard Alien fan I had high hopes for this book, but it's nothing new. Aliens punching holes in heads and bursting out of stomachs. Not sure what I expected, but I'm afraid it's just a little tired now. The film series deteriorated into a money making rehash of earlier ideas, and I think the whole concept has been burned out and should be put to rest. The use of actual lines from the films is disappointing. I mean really, can't the author at least come up with original dialogue?!

Unlike a lot of reviews, I thought the tie in with the first film was plausible and inventive. The book certainly isn't slow paced, with the action kicking off right from the start, you won't be bored, and it definitely kept my attention. But I just couldn't really get past the completely predictable end (knowing what happens in the second film). I think I read it fast, more to get to the end, rather than because it's a good page turner. I thought suspense was lacking, and it really didn't scare me. Maybe I've become desensitised to head crunching and stomach bursting? What can I say, it wasn't visceral enough!!

Unsure whether to continue with this series of books. Maybe I should be content with the magic of the first 2 Alien films and not expect anything else to measure up. Possibly they should let the poor Aliens finally rest, and not disturb any more face-huggers.
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on 23 October 2014
This book has flashes of something very good, but gets bogged down in its desperate attempts to tie in with the previous films. The novel is set during the time between Alien and Aliens and involves a mining crew who are suddenly stranded on board their vessel when their ground crews come down with a sudden case of exploding chests. With Aliens waiting on ships outside and the survivors sticking to the main vessel, the ground work is laid for a pretty interesting, standalone story.

However what happens next is one of my biggest problems with the story - Ripley. In the films we're shown that her hypersleep stasis in uninterrupted for 57 years, but in this we see that the survivors onboard the ship pick her up and she once again has to face down a horde of aliens. Granted, the reasons for having Ripley show up again are plausible, but I feel she is only there to provide fan service. She is well written, but her interaction with the characters and several of their lines (including Aliens ones like 'game over man' and 'all we need is a deck of cards' come off more as fan fiction than an actualy canon tie in novel.

That aside, the characters in the story are well written and you do care about them, even though you know they're going to be bumped off steadily. The explanation for the Aliens is interesting as well (if a little vague but I imagine this will be covered in feature installments).

Overall the novel has good characters and pacing, and the aliens are as scary as ever. However forcing Ripley in and playing fan service take me out of it a little bit, not to mention the Deus Ex Machina twist at the end. Ultimately a fun book given its flaws, and a good start for a new trilogy of books.
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on 16 February 2014
Recently there was a rather ugly situation involving Sega\Gearbox and a video game called Colonial Marines. During the events of that story, considered series canon, somebody managed to dig up Dwayne Hicks and pen the doomed Cpl. back into the series.
It was in bad taste, style and execution.

When I saw that Ellen RIpley was involved with this story, some decades after the movie Alien but prior to Aliens, I got slightly nervous at the prospect. Lets face it, the series has been more than a little diluted over the years. Film makers, authors, artists...have all prodded and poked at the Xeno lore with mixed results.

If you want a storyline that touches upon the spirit of the first movie then yeah, this is a good read. Tim Lebbon weaves a tale that keeps the standard formula intact. People on planet. People find something that is not very nice. People get a multi legged creature stuck on their face.....yeah, you heard the man and you know the drill.

Then we have the Ripley twist. It's clear that the author was limited with his tool set. Set prior to Aliens this tale can only end one way. But whether you are willing to accept just how Ripley has no knowledge of this particular adventure is going to make or break the experience. I can live with it. Some will not.

Digging into Ripley's past also offers a new perspective on her character but it sometimes cancels out the other members of the cast. She is the focal point of the story and despite the other characters showing promise you never get too attached.

I read this book in two sittings. I will certainly buy the next of the series come July.

Overall decent but I don't know whether Ripley should have been simply left to slumber.
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on 3 February 2015
2 stars because i'm a fan of the genre.

Although I've not finished it (Kindle says I have 1hr left), I feel I can write this review. It started out OK. Good set up, good introduction, albeit one of them was killed off very abruptly to the point I kept turning the page expecting them to suddenly appear. I felt the story dragged a lot. It doesn't keep me immersed in the plot. I also found it very predictable. If you know the films and are a fan of them, you can guess what's around each corner. I'm still reading (although I have felt like giving up) because I'm a fan. This is a trilogy i think, but I don't think I'll bother with the next two. Life is too short and there are too many masterpieces out there that I will never get a chance to read.

As I said, it's predictable, not because we know Ripley will live, if we cared about that books like Wolf Hall would never be written. No, it's predictable because it has no originality: Chest bursters, single alien encounters, hissing, eggs, facehuggers, queen. The usual fare. The attempts at build up were feeble because of this. Aliens is my recurring nightmare. Usually in a mall/shopping precinct, at night. Anyway, I digress. I wanted to be scared but I'm not.

I keep reading because I'm a fan of the genre. I'm sorry Tim Lebbon if you're reading this. To everyone else, I'm afraid to say that you will be wasting your time with this one.
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on 20 July 2015
I've read some Aliens fiction in the past, and it usually veers between two equally unlikeable goalposts: weak fanboy gun-fantasy, or un-scary horror that manages to neuter the aliens as anything to actually fear, and re-tread the 'Company is evil, scientists are evil' tropes ad infinitum...
Happily, this rises above them.
I was initially hugely wary of the inclusion of Ripley (in fact I think I even sighed at the lameness of the idea when I read the summary on the back). However, the writing style is enjoyable and compelling, and the characters are fun company for the tale. Ripley's inclusion ends up being surprisingly workable within this particular storyline (although there's no denying that it's fan bait and several moments are dreadfully convenient and a bit shoe-horned in to get her to 'Aliens'), and the tale has some good set-pieces that are fraught with tension and inventive action. There are a few fun bad-guy moments, and the Aliens make quite a chilling threat.
For someone who's very sceptical of Alien novels, this was a nice change, with readable characters. A decent ride.
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on 8 January 2015
Approached this book with a fair amount of cynicism, and rightly so, as the concept is potentially ludicrous; set 37 years after the first movie, ALIEN (and therefore before the ALIENS movie), Ripley's lifecraft, the Narcissus, arrives at a mining ship, the Marion.

For anyone familiar with the movies, this plot contrivance is where you will either go with this book or scoff into your juice, and put/fling it down. I went with it, albeit tentatively, as I had a list of questions that I was curious to see answered - and was rewarded. Lebbon is a very skilful writer and carves a credible horror-thriller featuring the slightly dazed and delirious Ellen Ripley and a decent support cast of xeno-fodder. I think what surprised me most about this, other than the baffling concept of it all, was actually how a) entertaining it was and b) how well written it was.

Author Lebbon strings a mystery throughout the (albeit strenuously concocted) thrill-packed plot that kept me hooked to the end, and he successfully answered (almost) all my fanboy questions.
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