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As sequel to one of the best science fiction/horror films ever made, Aliens had a lot to live up to, but is arguably even better than the first film in the series. It helped consolidate James Cameron’s reputation as a director. The novelisation of the film is a pleasant surprise, in that it is not merely a bare-bones rehash of the script. In contrast to the disappointing Gladiator book, which is a poor imitation of a great film, the book of Aliens does justice to a great film. Where the book of Gladiator offered little beyond what you see in the film, Alan Dean Foster relates the story in a much more enthralling manner, describing the claustrophobic atmosphere, and capturing the sense of mounting tension well. After the horrors encountered on board the Nostromo, Ripley was last seen entering hypersleep having blasted the alien creature into the void of space. The shuttle craft in which she escaped is recovered by a salvage crew after drifting for 70 years. In this time, Ripley’s daughter back on Earth has lived her own life, and has recently died. ‘The Company’ are reluctant to believe Ripley’s tale of the demise of her crew, and are keen to sweep the whole affair under the carpet. Ripley is horrified to learn that in the time she has been in hypersleep, a colony has been set up on the planet where the alien eggs were first uncovered. Her horror grows when she learns that all contact with the colony has recently been lost, and immediately fears the worst. In an attempt to relieve herself of her recurring nightmares, Ripley reluctantly agrees to accompany a team of Marines on what initially appears a reconaissance mission, very quickly becomes a firefight, and eventually ends up as a battle for survival. The colony has been overrun with aliens, and the Marines are completely unprepared for what they find. Interestingly the book does not match the events of the film exactly. Usually in
this type of book the plot is identical to that of the film, but this version has a number of slight changes. The aliens in the book are capable of using their tail as a stinger, injecting their prey with a form of poison, something not seen in the film. There is also an interesting conversation between Ripley and the android Bishop, where the motivations of the aliens are discussed. Bishop hypothesises about the lifecycle of the aliens, prior to Ripley’s discovery of the nest. The book is based around the extended special edition of the film, so the introduction of the first alien into the colony is described, along with Ripley's reaction to the news that her daughter has died in her absence. I got this book as part of the Complete Alien Omnibus, which features the first three parts of the trilogy. As a fan of the film, I enjoyed this version greatly, and it certainly will not disappoint any fans of the movie version.
Having survived one encounter with an alien, Ripley is persuaded to return to the planet where her crew found the alien ship.