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The Complete Aliens Omnibus: Volume Two (Genocide, Alien Harvest) Kindle Edition
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The second story was hard to start off, the whole scenario of a thief and a geek going to an alien planet didn't do it for me. It didn't have the grit that other alien stories have, although it picked up towards the end, I had already become tired of the story. More aliens and less romance! Its an alien book isn't it !
Either way, for a couple of pounds they are both worth a read.
Girl walks into a spacecraft filled with marines. They’re off to a planet called Hiveworld. Our gal’s badass but scared, having something of a history with the Alien sons-of-biatches they’re going to hunt. But that’s okay because there’s a company guy there and, sure, he’s a bit sleazy but she kinda likes him and thinks she can trust him and…
What? You know that one?
Safe to say, David Bischoff’s GENOCIDE, the first of two novels collected in this second volume of Titan Books new omnibus series, treads familiar ground. It’s basically a remix of James Cameron’s ALIENS, with a few things shifted around a bit, and while for some people that might be a turnoff, it kinda worked for me. It’s a page-turner, you see. Cliched characters, maybe, but Bischoff makes them work and I found myself buying into all their little dramas. The writing itself remains accessible. Clipped and very dialogue-driven. There aren’t a hell of a lot of aliens and you could say it’s heavy on the opera, light on the space. But for some reason… well, I just really enjoyed reading it.
The second book in this volume, ALIEN HARVEST by Robert Sheckley, was not just as enjoyable. In many ways, it’s a problem with tone again – unlike the novelisations, or indeed the new canonical series from Titan, penned by Tim Lebbon, James A. Moore and Christopher Golden, this book is laissez faire with the source material, creating an old-school pulp adventure that boasts more of a jovial, Dan Dare esque vibe than the darker, Gigeresque tones of the movies. Set within the context of a post-alien-invasion Earth, ALIEN HARVEST follows a ragtag band of mercs on the search of a vast store of Alien jelly, a cure-all nectar with narcotic properties. Pivotal to their mission is a robot named Norbert. A replica of the aliens themselves, Norbert’s character is so far out that you have to wonder if Sheckley himself was imbibing on some of that Alien Royal Jelly that his story, and the characters populating such, are so obsessed with. It’s very readable, mind, and will certainly pass the time, but definitely the weaker of the two stories on offer here.
I’m glad that Titan are collecting these stories. Most, if not all, are long out of print, and, for those who missed them first time around, these omnibuses offer a second chance to check them out. But they’re not a patch on the new series.
In Genocide, the alien queen is dead, the hive mind left to flounder… and on a world bereft of its leader two strains of Alien divide their forces for world-shattering, acid-drenched war. On Earth, in the wake of alien infestation, athletes are flocking to humanity’s Goodwill Games. But some come with a deadly new tool: a drug called Fire, distilled from the very essence of the Aliens’ body chemistry.
The military wants it. Pharmaceutical kingpin Daniel Grant wants it. But the only place the essential ingredient can be found is on that terrible world, convulsed by Alien holocaust.
In Alien Harvest royal jelly, the most illicit of Alien by-products, is keeping Dr Stan Myakovsky alive. A once-famous scientist fallen on hard times, Stan is fighting off the repo-men and trying hard to patent the cybernetic ant that will reinstate his reputation. Julie Lish is beautiful, mysterious, and totally amoral. She has a plan so outrageous that there might be one chance in a million to pull it off.
Together they make an attempt to grab the ultimate treasure—royal jelly from an Alien hive.
Following on from the events depicted in The Female War, Aliens: Genocide is set a couple of decades down the line. With the alien infestation of Earth now almost cleared, it’s the private companies that have made headway in helping to wipe out this threat, and to also capitalise on the spoils of war: alien royal jelly. Neo-Pharm is the main company behind this, having created and released a drug by the name of Xeno-Zip, or Fire as it is known, by using the royal jelly from both the normal alien Queen and that of the alien Queen Mother. But supplies are dwindling, and the effort to make a synthesised version has had mixed results, particularly for a small percentage of users who are thrown into a fury that inevitably leads to their death. When military sources contact Daniel Grant, the man behind Neo-Pharm, with interest in researching this side effect for tactical use, one thing leads to another and an expedition is put together to visit the Hiveworld of the Queen Mother in order to replenish the undiluted supplies. But nothing is straightforward, and on the Hiveworld a surprise is waiting, for a genetic variation caused by the removal of the Queen Mother has taken hold and a xenomorph war is in full swing…
While not a direct sequel to The Female War, Genocide does rely on those events to deliver this story, and it begins by showing the aftermath of the alien-human war. With hives and xenomorphs being wiped out across the globe its Colonel Alexandra Kozlowski and her team that we join to see a mission first hand, finishing off some of the last of the hives on the west cost of the USA. It’s brutal and uncompromising, yet still conveys the humanity of these marines, and it sets the tone of the novel. And one heck of a novel it is. From these early scenes through to the scientific aspects of researching the xenomorphs, there is much to admire. Bischoff not only follows on from the previous novels without issue, he also presents very believable characters with deep and convoluted motivations. It’s an Aliens novel to the core, and one that works incredibly well at continuing to build the mythology of this novel-based universe.
In Aliens: Alien Harvest we follow Stan Myakovsky, an entrepreneur that has fallen on hard times as well as terminally ill health; and Julie Lish, thief, bad-ass, and a woman with a plan. After approaching Myakovsky with her idea they join forces to perform a daring raid for royal jelly on a planet Neo-Pharm are harvesting in order to manufacture their ever-popular, though now illegal, Xeno-Zip. Along with Myakovsky’s robotic alien-inspired creation in the form Norbert, both he and Lish gather a crew of criminals to help them perform their mission, one they assume will be all-too easy, but is nothing of the sort…
Now, ‘hate’ is a strong word, yet one I can’t help but find myself apply to Alien Harvest. In contrast to the very well written and presented Genocide, Alien Harvest is, quite simply, a mess. The first thing that jumps out is that the prose style here is very unsuited to an Aliens story – it’s not a bad style, it just isn’t gritty enough, and honestly a little too literary in places: it just doesn’t fit this setting. When you add to that the seemingly complete lack of consistency from the previous novels, and high level of ignorance of the source material, then there are going to be problems. To be honest I could even forgive that to an extent, but the errors that crop up consistently throughout Alien Harvest are impossible to ignore. No vegetation on this planet, yet vines cover an entrance; acid damage from the xenomorphs is seemingly inconsequential unless it suits; one ship seen immediately, another seemingly completely hidden; a radio broken in one scene magically works again in another. The list goes on. As a fan of the Aliens series, this book feels like an insult, and one that was desperately lacking quality control upon its initial release.
So, The Complete Aliens Omnibus Volume 2 is a very mixed bag. With one great novel (Genocide) that perfectly fits into this setting, and one poor novel (Alien Harvest) that insults fans of the series, it’s hard to say whether this is for you. Personally I lean towards picking it up regardless, for Genocide is worth it on its own. Here’s looking to more consistency in the release of the next omnibus.
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