This is a bit of a shorter review than usual (stop cheering at the back!) for a 4½ hour dramatisation of Tim Lebbons’ Alien: Out of the Shadows.
This is a bit of a strange review to write due to it not being a true review of the book – I’ve been able to score a review on Goodreads for this audio dramatisation but it still looks like the book and audio adaptation scores are combined. Anyhow!
The jist of the story is that it takes place between Alien and Aliens – Ripley has been diverted to another planet in distress, and the sinister android Ash has been able to upload his consciousness to the ship to make this happen. A transport ship, The Samson has crashed into one of the docking bays with four aliens aboard. Ripley’s nightmare begins again. I did spend nearly all of this wondering how this can be canon with Ripley involved in this story but it is explained later on.
First, to offer high praise. The voice acting, music, sound effects. Absolutely sublime. They really take this from an average Alien story to a top notch listening experience.
Especially being canon, there were a few things I wasn’t keen on in the story – the ancient aliens thing has been kinda cancelled by Covenant (but ok ok, this was written first) – but an underprepared crew with improvised weapons killing three Xenomorphs on their first meeting really goes against everything this series should be, for me. The terror of the Xenomorph is its formidability and ferocity. If a handful of untrained miners can just take three of them out, it diminishes the ominous presence of the creatures. Subsequently any layer encounter felt that little bit less tense or foreboding.
There were some creepy bits however, and Ash’s character is perfect. There is also the welcome addition of Hooper who holds his own as a hero of the tale along with Ripley. I’d probably still give the story alone a 3 out of 5 stars. There are some really good bits. I just can’t imagine it being so good in your typical book form with more dialogue and descriptions and an average story.
All the voice actors are awesome. The sound effects are spectacular and the music really ups the atmospheric tension levels that perhaps the story alone may not. It’s like listening to a movie – and it would probably make a really enjoyable movie!
This is 10 half hour(ish) episodes and best of all it’s free on audible without a membership, so I’d highly recommend listening. Some of it will feel quite familiar to Alien universe fans, and there’s not a lot of new stuff, but it’s still enjoyable. You might question that it’s apparently part of the canon but if you sit back and relax and assure yourself you’re just here for a fun alien horror/thriller/sci-fi story with AMAZING sounds & speech, you’ll probably really enjoy it. 3 star story. 5 star audio work. 4 star overall.