I always meant to pick up something by Eric Brown after he said some very nice things about my sci-fi thriller, Plastic Jesus, in his review for The Guardian. He’s something of a veteran author within sci-fi, having released a wealth of material, both short and long form, since the late 80s so there’s quite the list to choose from. But for some reason, his 2007 release, Helix, always stood out to me.
Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti tells the story of a young girl off to the Oomza University, basically the galaxy’s finest place to play out the ol’ stoodent life. Being Himba, Binti hasn’t exactly had it easy and she’s the first of her race to win a place at Oomza. But as she makes her way out there, her ship is infiltrated by the Meduse, a bloodthirsty scourge absolutely intent on killing everyone onboard.
Okay, so I’ve read this new Alien series from Titan Books completely arse-about-face. I started with the middle one in the trilogy, James A. Moore’s Sea of Sorrows, and then moved onto the third instalment, Christopher Golden’s River Of Pain. And here I am now reviewing the first in the series, Tim Lebbon’s Out of The Shadows. It doesn’t matter, of course, as while they’re all billed as being somewhat connected, they’re not – each is a self-contained story. In fact, the only thing they share in common is the fact that, at least when released, they were sold to the readers as canonical. And that’s very important because, having read all three now, for me the most striking thing about them is how authentic they feel. As I said in my review of Sea of Sorrows, that alone does set them apart from some of the earlier tie-in-novels (ALIEN HARVEST by Robert Sheckley, I’m looking at you) which, while perhaps entertaining in their own right, have felt nothing like the movies.
ALIEN: RIVER OF PAIN is the third book in the new Titan Books trilogy billed as canonical companion pieces to the movies. Written by Christopher Golden, a dab hand at the ol’ franchise tie-ins, it tells the story of the fall of LV-426 (aka Acheron aka Hadley’s Hope). For those a little rusty with the franchise, that’s the moon where we first met a facehugger back in 1979′s ALIEN and then, 57 in-movie (and 7 actual) years later in ALIENS, it was the terraforming colony upon which Ripley and the Colonial Marines dropshipped their asses after receiving a distress call. Of course, they were too late. Acheron had already fallen, its people, save one little girl called Newt, either dead or impregnated with chestbusters-in-waiting. RIVER OF PAIN tells the story of what went down.
S.B. Divya’s RUNTIME is a superb old-school cyberpunk novella with a vital and youthful energy about it. Following the story of Marmeg, a young runner entered into the Minerva Sierra Challenge, a teched-up mud run of sorts, it’s a fresh take on a suddenly booming sub-genre that tips its hat to classics such as BLADE RUNNER, ROLLERBALL, THE RUNNING MAN and just about every must-see anime out there.