A new audio drama tells the tale of Ripley’s battle with the alien menace set in between the first two classic Alien films.
As a science fiction fan, I read a lot of licensed stories, especially in my younger days. I lost count of the amount of Star Wars novels I read. They burned me out, they all became a bit formulaic and I grew tired of them.
Because of that reason, I missed a new trilogy of Alien stories that was released in 2014 starting with Alien: Out Of The Shadows written by Tim Lebbon.
In early 2016, Den of Geek ran an interview with Rutger Hauer who was playing a role in a new audio adaptation of Alien: Out Of The Shadows. This was to be released by Audible as part of 20th Century Fox’s “Alien Day” on the 26th April.
The day was derived from the name of the planet colonised in the film Aliens, LV-426 (4 = April, 26 = the day). This was used to promote new Alien merchandise in a celebration of thirty years since the release Aliens, which was directed by James Cameron and released in 1986.
Alien: Out Of The Shadows isn’t a simple book reading though. This is a fully realised production with a full cast, sound effects and original score.
I had listened to many of these productions before as I owned such titles as Batman: Knightfall and An American Werewolf In London. All these titles had one thing in common, they were all produced by Dirk Maggs. But first, let’s touch on the story.
Alien: Out Of The Shadows opens on the mining ship Marion. Orbiting the planet of LV178, miners are flown down to the surface via a couple of smaller dropships, their job to extract trimonite, the hardest matter known to man. This also makes it the most valuable as trimontite has many useful applications.
The story begins when the miner ferrying dropships are two days late in returning for a shift change. When they finally reappear on Marion’s radar screens, what the onboard cameras reveal is terrifying.
The miners have discovered the horror of the alien menace on the planet and tried to escape but to no avail. Both dropships contain infected crew including some that have already hatched.
One of the drop ships comes in too fast and crashes into Marion’s docking bay, destroying half the docking arms.
The crash also ruptures the Marion’s hull and knocks out the thrusters causing the ships orbit to decay. The Marion is now on a slow spiral into the planet’s atmosphere where upon it will start to burn up.
The other shuttle successfully docks but it holds several fully grown aliens that the crew keep locked on board.
Several days later, having repaired the Marion to the best of their abilities and still wondering about what to do with the aliens, another shuttle appears. It automatically docks with the Marion.
The crew board the new ship to discover that it’s called the Narcissus and onboard are two creatures. One is the cat known as Jones, the other a human, Ellen Ripley, who has been in hyper sleep for over thirty years.
Before you all shout, “SPOILERS!” this is all within the first thirty minutes!
With a total running time of 4½ hours, this drama is gripping from beginning to end. I admit being a little biassed as I’m an Alien fan but if you love your sci-fi, you can’t go much wrong with this excellent audio drama.
If Ripley plays a major part of this story, how can they finish the story so that it leads into the start of the film Aliens? Well, it’s all taken care of really rather well. The only niggle is that you know Ripley can’t come to any major harm due to the story’s place in the franchise’s timeline.
The cast is fantastic and a special mention should go to Laurel Lefkow who sounds so much like Sigourney Weaver, it’s incredibly easy to forget it’s not actually her.
Rutger Hauer’s character, which shall not be named for spoiler reasons, makes a great replacement and they even found a way to explain the change in that characters voice.
The sound effects and score really add to the atmosphere making for some very tense moments at times. While audio drama may be their official title, I like to think of them as films without pictures.
This is the way I feel about the many audio dramas I own that were produced by Dirk Maggs and I highly recommend his other pieces of work including his adaptation of Batman: Knightfall which is also available on CD.
I even read the original novel straight after and discovered that very little was changed in order to make the transition from page to audio drama.
This audio dramatisation comes highly recommended and is available now from Audible.