Saturday, 15 February 2020

Aliens: Earth Hive

Author: Steve Perry
First Published: 1992
File size/Pages: 3368kb / 277pp
Ebook Publisher: Titan Books
Ebook Date: January 2016

Back in 1992, the motion picture Alien 3 was released. In an attempt to tie in with this new movie, Titan Books released Aliens: Earth Hive by Steve Perry. Earth Hive was a novelisation of the Dark Horse Comics story Aliens written by Mark Verheiden, which had orignally been published in 1989 and simply titled "Book One" when released in collected graphic novel format.

At the time of it's comic run, the story was fully intended to be a continuation of the story from the end of the second film, Aliens. Chracters and settings from the first two films, rescued child Newt, Colonial Marine Hicks and the planet LV-426 were used. However, Alien 3 changed the fate of Newt and Hicks so in Earth Hive Perry avoided confusion and changed the character names to Billie and Wilks and the planet they encountered the alien creatures on became Rim.

By 1992 Steve Perry had written a number of well respected science fiction novels in his Matador series and had also contributed to continuing the Robert E. Howard Conan series with five novels of the Cimmerian sword and sorcery adventurer. Perry went on to write another couple of books in the Aliens series, which form a trilogy of sorts. He also collaborated with other authors, including his daughter, S.D. Perry on a Aliens vs Predator trilogy.

Perry has written more than fifty novels and many short stories for magazines and anthologies. He has also written books for the Star Wars expanded universe and was a collaborator on Tom Clancy's Net Force series. He has written for television, notably Batman: The Animated Series resulted in an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Writing.

Perry was born in 1947 in the deep south of the United States. Before he became a writer he had many varied jobs such as a lifeguard, hotel clerk, aluminum salesman, martial art instructor and private detective! He practices the martial art Silat, which was the inspiration for the fictional martial arts Sumito and Teräs Käsi, both of which are mentioned in his Matador series.

Earth Hive begins about ten years after the devastating events that resulted with Billie being committed to a mental institution, suffering from nightmares of her rescue from Rim. She cannot recall all of the details of her time their and her rescue, but is plagued by the demons that hunt her at night, and the memories of her friends dying horrible deaths.

Wilks is also suffering from horrifying dreams. He is languishing in the brig, still part of the marine corps. Summoned to Military Command HQ to be briefed on recent events surrounding the endoparasitoid alien, he is ordered to accompany a military expedition to a planet believed to be the homeworld of the species.

Also very much interested in where the Alien comes from, and how to obtain samples to study and develop products for profit pruposes are the large companies that are beginning to dominate Earth. They enlist the services of ex-Colonial Marine Massey to find the homeworld, and with the help of a squad of androids bring them back to Earth.

Finally, on Earth, fanatical preacher Salvaje has been experiencing strange dreams and visions of a terrifying monster - but he considers it the Messiah destined to lead the children of Earth to thier hallowed land. He has hired holotech Pindar to hack into the world wide web so that he can transmit his messages of faith to the masses.

eBook Omnibus edition
With so many plot strands and characters Perry does a very good job of keeping the reader engaged. I took a chance with this book as I had never been that keen to try them in the past. But I was pleasantly surprised. The plot moves very rapidly - and despite the story spanning many locations and including lots of characters, most who don't last very long, it was easy to follow. The action is great - but Perry does allow the suspense to build appropriately before we are confronted by the Aliens.

Despite the change in characters from their orignial versions mentioned earlier, it does not have any negative effect on the flow of the novel. There are clearly going to be events that mirror - very closely - those of the Aliens film, but I didn't think it detracted from this story at all.

Obviously, the main characters are Billie and Wilks, and of these two Billie fares the better in Perry's hands. Wilks is fine, but Billie gets more emotional baggage than her marine hero. I also really liked the unfortunate Pindar, but he doesn't get as much to do as the other characters and dissapears far too early in my opinion. There are some generic marine 'grunts' in the second half of the story, but they are always going to be cannon fodder.

Despite my initial thoughts that this book was going to be pretty average, I ended up enjoying it far more than I expected. Maybe my liking of the Alien film franchise had something to do with it - it's been ages since I rewatched one of them (Alien: Covenant didn't help) and this felt like a return to familiar territory - almost like the film I always wished we had got after Aliens by James Cameron. I'm aware that characters from Earth Hive are returned to in the next book, so I am planning on joining them again.

Recommended. The eBook is good value at £4.31 on Amazon UK in the Omnibus Volume 1 version, which gives you Earh Hive, Nightmare Asylum and The Female War novels in one package.