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With great excitement, I checked the mail every day, waiting for the new copy of Alien: Covenant Origins – The Official Prequel to the Blockbuster Film to arrive from Titan Books. One, it’s Aliens. Two, I was in dire need of reading material. Three, it’s Aliens. A perfect storm was brewing. The author of the incoming novel, Alan Dean Foster, has penned an amazing amount of literature and movie tie-ins from all the great franchises: Star Wars, Alien, Terminator. He is also an accomplished sci-fi writer, with an exhaustive list of original short stories and novels to his credit.
First and foremost, Alien Covenant Origins is not a bug hunt. This is not Dallas, Ripley or Apone with flamethrowers and zero chance for survival. Fans of the series will definitely enjoy the added character background from the crew members of The Covenant. The gritty movie, Alien Covenant provided some background and development in the beginning, but then slammed on the gas for the last ninety minutes, leaving us breathless and more than a little unnerved by the sheer savagery of alien will to procreate and spread.
Not so in the three-and-a-half hundred pages in Alien Covenant Origins. This pre-Covenant movie novel is virtually sans sci-fi. It’s mostly about corporate intrigue and espionage. Mostly.
After a brief jaunt with the crew of the orbiting Covenant and a dance with an unsuccessful interstellar terrorist, the story settles in nicely to the still earthbound Covenant security chief, Lope, and the Weyland-Yutani board room. Without filling this review with a thousand words of backstory and a few visual aids, let’s just say that Weyland-Yutani is the company behind humanity’s search for intelligent life, both among the stars and within their own artificial creations, the android development known as The David Project.
To be honest, I was seeking more on The David Project. I also wanted more of the Covenant crew we see so much of in the movie. I also wanted, well, some xenomorphs. The cover is a touch misleading…
Now, all of that aside, what we do get here is a very readable book. The story moves rather quickly and almost episodically, as the technologically advanced and well-funded zealot terrorists and their Prophet move towards ever more desperate measures to stop the Covenant from lightspeeding off to colonize a faraway planet, Origae-6. Fantastic new characters kept me reading through the infrequent dragging transitional periods, like the ancient assassin named Himura, who fools all with his unimposing geriatric nature.
The strongest aspect of the novel is Foster’s wonderful decisions to make the bad guy terrorist zealots actually correct in their actions. He spends all this time telling the story from the point of view of good-hearted heroes with the best intentions for furthering the human race, but they’re dead wrong. It’s a wonderful snub at the nose of conventional storytelling, and it underpins the entire novel. The moral complexity of the struggle between ‘terrorist’ and humanity’s progress gives this novel a well-hidden but dangerous theme. Very well done.
The ending happens rather abruptly, almost as if Foster reaches his word count and had to bring all the players together for a final showdown. He then flashes even more abruptly to a scene miles away – a significant problem back on the Covenant. It seems that a last ditch effort by the remaining zealots was organized in secret, which suddenly and beyond all hope has a solution as simple as blowing a large piece of machinery out an airlock.
And so it goes. The Weyland-Yutani Covenant moves ahead, as scheduled, for its fateful leap to hyperspace, carrying two thousand colonists and eleven hundred embryos. Destination Origae-6…