"If we can't kill it, what do we do with it when we find it?" - Brett
The commercial tug Nostromo is brought back to full function when an alien distress call is detected. The seven member crew are pulled out of hyper space and have to face the reality of landing on a non-descript planetoid in order to investigate the signal. Crew members Dallas, Lambert, and Kane head on out and naturally find a very alien derelict spaceship, Kane in particular hasn't learnt to not poke undefined growths with a stick and becomes infected with some sort of parasite.
Meanwhile back on the Nostromo Ripley has determined the distress call is actually a warning signal, she refuses to allow the trio of explorers back onboard without a quarantine period, however Science officer Ash overrides her decision. Anyone need additional details from here? Chest burster scene, honking big Alien drone going Jason Voorhees on the Nostromo's arse, picking off the crew one by one, and finally Ripley making the hard decisions. Let's blow the airlock on this book and see if it's worth picking up for a lazy read.
For those who might not know Foster's Alien is the novelisation of the movie of the same name. For once we can even say that the movie is better than the book, but then the classic monster flick did come first with Foster simply creating a narrative from the script. There are inherent dangers with this approach, you actually have to be able to string some paragraphs together while being happy to simply recreate what the intended audience have already seen on the screen. Considering Alien, the movie, is a classic, there is going to be no quarter given to Foster if he gets the mythology wrong or misses important scenes. So pretty much you are talking a novel that is pretty much preordained plot wise without much room for taking it in new directions.
Being the Alien geek I am I immediately noted one very important scene that Foster missed from the movie, and this has become much more important recently with the release of Ridley Scott's Prometheus, the space jockey is missing completely from the novelisation which sort of detracts majorly for mine. In the movie the jockey works as a sort of foreshadow to the trials and tribulations that the Nostromo crew are going to be pulled through, why exactly Foster missed this scene remains a complete mystery. I was not best pleased with the explanation for the alien ship and the infestation that Foster offers, there's a major plot point missing yo.
Besides the missing scene, and that's almost a deal breaker right there, some readers might be fooled into believing there is one new scene in the novel that wasn't in the film. I'm talking Ripley discovering the fate of Dallas here folks. Watch the extended Directors cut of the movie to note the scene was already in the movie, but cut for the original theatre release. So nothing new here folks, we're travelling across well mapped ground in the horror universe.
Outside plot shenanigans, some things included some things not, we actually get a pretty good read as Foster slams the pace onto the page and gets his motor running. Considering his readership already knows the plot and twists Foster clearly simply wants a romping read that will deliver some value without putting anything in the way of high brow in the way of turning the next page as the good stuff goes down with additional gore surprisingly. Foster is on with his pacing and doesn't let anything get in the way of rushing at breakneck speed from one major scene to the next.
Not sure Foster was entirely successful with some of his Author schlock to be honest; there are a couple of real clangers coming at you that will lead to face palming. Firstly the opening paragraphs waffled on about professional dreamers that had me wondering "what the!" Didn't work as the readership already know that Ash is more artificial than a Hollywood starlet. Equally the whole Jones thing, sorry I'm not really into the thoughts of the feline species, especially when the thoughts are written with all the ability of an emotionally clingy teenage chick. Foster demonstrates that perhaps Sci-Fi isn't the genre for him to be working in.
There's a feeling Foster is a gun for hire with this novel that pervades every page, we would call it leveraging every dollar you can from a property, however somehow the Author manages to drag the novelisation above the commercial swamp it's threatened to be engulfed by. I guess I should read one of Foster's original novels before making a call on his abilities here, so remember this review simply looks at the book Alien and doesn't claim to be anything else.
Overall I kind of enjoyed the book in a sort of guilty pleasure fashion. Sure I realised I was reading something of a cash in and knew every detail of the plot, but it sort of worked as a relaxation device when not taken seriously. If you have seen the franchise movies and are maybe sweating on Prometheus 2 then this book might slurp in as a filler. Not entirely sure if the novel will be required reading for everyone, but if you don't mind a throw away read then you could do worse, just don't expect great writing.
If after a copy of the book check specialist bookstores, eBay, or perhaps Amazon. I dragged one off the maelstrom that is eBay so happy hunting folks.