Alien: Out of the Shadows was written by Tim Lebbon and Dirk Maggs and was first published in 2014. In 2016, Audible acquired the rights to the property and began transferring the text in to an audiobook. This formed part of their ever-growing ‘original dramas’. The full-cast audiobook was released at the end of April 2016.
The synopsis for the story is:
As a child, Chris Hooper dreamed of monsters. But in deep space, he found only darkness and isolation. Then, on planet LV178, he and his fellow miners discovered a storm-scoured, sand-blasted hell – and trimonite, the hardest material known to man.
When a shuttle crashes into the mining ship Marion, the miners learn that there was more than trimonite deep in the caverns. There was evil, hibernating and waiting for suitable prey. Hoop and his associates uncover a nest of Xenomorphs, and hell takes on a new meaning. Quickly they discover that their only hope lies with the unlikeliest of saviors….
Ellen Ripley, the last human survivor of the salvage ship Nostromo.
©2016 20th Century Fox (P)2016 Audible, Ltd.
The overall story was ‘classic Alien’ and while at times it felt a little formulaic, the story had such good pacing and drama, that you don’t notice it that much.
Some of the comedic beats were a little off and felt out of place at times, but when it came to the drama and the ‘science’ they get it just right.
Given how they have managed to use Ripley, in a story set between Alien and Aliens, there was only one way they could end it. And they did just that. The problem with the ending they chose was it kind of made the events of the story seem a little meaningless. But there was no way of ending it any differently without ignoring the plot of Aliens, so it was what it was.
In terms of the audio production, it was of the highest quality. The editing was flawless and the quality was consistent throughout. One of the strongest aspects to the production was the sound FX. Ripped straight from the movies, these familiar sounds really helped to draw you in to the story. The classic computer clicks and bleeps, such an iconic part of Alien, are all present and it truly helps to elevate the storytelling.
There is nothing you can criticise about the production of Alien: Out of the Shadows, it truly is a well-crafted audio drama.
It wasn’t just the production value that was so impressive, it was the ensemable cast the producers had put together.
Laurel Lefkow was brilliant as Ellen Ripley. It wasn’t just the fact that she sounded exactly like Sigourney Weaver (She really does). It was her ability to successfully replicate the personality of Ellen Ripley, and bring the character to life. Her portrayal of Ripley was sublime, and hopefully she is used for future Alien stories involving Ripley. She truly is worth the listen alone!
Rutger Hauer makes his audiobook debut, and he gives a typically solid ‘Rutger’ performance. Without going in to too much spoiler territory, he voices Ash, who was originally played by Ian Holm in Alien. They get around this ‘actor switch’ by stating that Ash’s AI programme has been uploaded in to the escape pod’s software. The computer ‘voice’ used for communication is Hauer’s. They also use a series of progress report style journal entries in between scenes. These work well enough to help the story’s progression.
There were also good performances from Two Pints of Larger star Kathryn Drysdale and American actress Andrea Deck, who voiced Amanda Ripley in the 2014 game Alien: Isolation. They actually refer to Amanda Ripley and the events of Alien: Isolation in the story itself. This little Easter egg was a nice little touch and helped make the world feel a little more expansive. Deck was definitely one of the stand out performers from the supporting cast.
Harry Potter fans will also recognise Matthew Lewis, aka Neville Longbottom. As well as veteran actor Corey Johnson, from films like The Mummy and Ex Machina.
All these actors make for a good ensemble cast, and they seem to have formed a believable on-air rapport that really sells the idea of them working as a space crew.
Overall, Alien: Out of the Shadows is one of the best books based in the Alien universe. The story is gripping and exciting, and performed brilliantly. If you are a fan of the films, then this will definitely be an audiobook worth investing your time in.
Alien: Out of the Shadows is available to buy on Audible UK.