When I’m not looking at all kinds of geeky media on this blog, I’m co-running my website Set The Tape, on which I now and then publish content. This is part of a review you can find the rest of in the link below.
Given that the Alien franchise is arguably one of the most renowned and beloved in cinema history, it comes as something as a surprise to learn there have only ever been nine tie-in novels, outside of the official movie adaptations and one anthology collection of short stories. The Cold Forge, now the tenth Alien tie-in novel, proves if anything how much of a goldmine publishers have previously missed in telling stories within the universe Ridley Scott created. Alex White’s story would make a damn fine movie in itself.
Taking a cue from the previous, successful trilogy of novels over the last few years including Out of the Shadows & River of Pain, The Cold Forge manages to cultivate its own corner of Alien’s dark, corporate, late-capitalist future by creating a uniquely Alien set-up: a research and development facility in deep space, in orbit of a burning star, with a collection of characters all with unique personalities, distinguishing traits, and several with plot-specific secrets.
White’s tale is confident from the get-go that Alien is a universe big enough to support stories that don’t involve iconic heroine Ellen Ripley in her ongoing, torturous battle with the primal Xenomorphs (a moniker White swiftly disposes of with almost mocking dispatch); his ensemble are fleshed out very well across the course of the story, particularly his two primary antagonists: Dorian and Blue.
We need to talk about Dorian first as he is easily the breakout character in White’s novel. Ostensibly an auditing director in the cold-hearted Weyland-Yutani Foundation behind a great deal of Alien’s underpinning mythology, Dorian Sudler also happens to be a narcissistic sociopath who White takes on a gripping, disturbing journey into the heart of darkness and psychopathic madness.
Dorian is precisely the kind of amoral villainous character you could make into a main player in a series like Alien, set as it is in a near-dystopian future in which the individual has no wealth outside of what they can bring to the corporate monopoly of the system. Dorian’s rationale as the book begins is to cut costs, save money, destroy lives and have a damn good time doing so; White then enjoys turning his brush with the murderous, savage power of the aliens (known here as ‘snatchers’, appropriately) into a full blown psychotic transformation of the man into a Hannibal Lecter variant. White gets deep into the mind of this fascinating man and it ain’t pretty.
Buy Alien: The Cold Forge from Titan Books now.