Month: August 2021

Alien – Alien 3: The Lost Screenplay by William Gibson (by Pat Cadigan)

** This book was provided to me by NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review **

The story of how this novel came to be is almost as good as how it ended up.

Many, many moons ago — back in 1987 to be precise — William Gibson was tapped to be the first of what turned out to be ten writers to tackle the script for what was to become the third film in Ridley Scott’s Alien franchise. Gibson ultimately produced a second revision, in 1988, which toned down the story a bit, but the studio still passed on it.

This second revision was adapted into a comic series by Dark Horse Comics in 2018, and an audio drama in 2019 by Audible Studios, but the first revision remained in the dark aside from being passed around the internet on Alien fandom sites and message boards.

Now, in 2021, it sees the proper novelization it deserves; and from the Queen of Cyberpunk herself, Pat Cadigan.

To say that I was excited to read this book is an understatement. I have been a fan of both Gibson and Cadigan since I was a mere kid, and this is exactly the “peanut butter in my chocolate” type of collaboration that I dream about.

This story is gritty as all hell. Focusing largely on Hicks and Bishop after being “rescued” with Ripley and Newt in the Sulaco where they ended up at the conclusion of Aliens, this version of Alien 3 goes from “Ehhh, things might be ok.” to “What the hell do you think you’re doing?” to “Oh yeah, everything is totally screwed.”

We see a whole lot of evolution in the Xenomorphs in this story. Their adaptation and speedy evolution is both terrifying and, for franchise fans, fascinating given the total lore that already exists. These bugs are a total game changer when it comes to their propagation and swarm-like spread.

Through it all, however, we see the laser-focused persistence of Hicks and Bishop. Naturally, as should always be in an Alien story, there is some thinly-veiled political intrigue, and the ever-present idiocy of “The Company” to help push the story along a bit.

What’s striking about this book is that it is a total redirection of the bigger story. Ripley is probably in it for about two chapters before everything gets focused on the Artificial Person and the Marine. I applaud the change, and how a lot of material and memories from Aliens was referenced to give some extra sparkle to the situation the two find themselves in.

Ms. Cadigan tackled this project just perfectly. There are some scantly disguised references to the current COVID-19 pandemic that I found rather amusing, but the bigger story really lends itself to that kind of comparison. Being a fan of her previous writings, falling into a cadence and rhythm that I’m familiar with really helped churn through the pages. The dialogue encompasses so many damn emotions, but nothing ever gets to a point where the broader picture is derailed for lack of detail or cohesiveness.

All-in-all, this was one hell of a novel to read, and I’m both incredibly happy I got to enjoy it, and very sad that I’m done with it. I really, really, really hope this sees the screen someday. If only so I can see some Xenomorph lemurs. Oh yeah, there are lemurs.

The Atlas Six (The Atlas, #1) by Olivie Blake

The Atlas Six (The Atlas Series Book 1) by [Olivie Blake, Little Chmura]

Holy crap, I really didn’t expect a read like this one. The premise was very intriguing and right up my alley, so I decided to take the dive.

The Alexandrian Society, a secretive group tasked with maintaining the lost/forgotten knowledge of previous civilizations, and library to the most powerful magicians in the world, have an annual initiation where they bring in six of the most talented magicians from all over the planet to act as custodians for the library while they learn and grow.

At the end of the period of time of this caretaking, one initiate will be eliminated and five will go on to be full members of the Society.

Magic, competition, ego, intrigue? I’m all in.

Then it gets really damn interesting. The first candidates we meet are Elizabeth “Libby” Rhodes and Nicol├ás “Nico” de Varona. This unique pair attends New York University of Magical Arts together, and are the fiercest of rivals. To say that they snipe at each other constantly is and understatement. When both are selected by Atlas Blakely to take part in the initiation, that kicks things up another notch. At this point, I knew I was in for a serious ride.

Next, Atlas selects Reina Mori, Parissa Kamali, Tristan Caine, and Callum Nova. Much like Libby and Nico, each is a magician of extreme talent. Unlike Libby and Nico, this three have been away from academia and are very secretive about their skills and abilities.

As the story unfolds we learn a hell of a lot more about each of the characters, the mission of The Society, its enemies and shortcomings. Each of the initiates gets more and more wrapped up in what their time at The Society means to them and to their group as a whole.

Let’s just say things get incredibly mental.

I honestly can’t go more into it without giving away anything. I will say that I read the last two chapters three times to fully wrap my head around what happened. Yeah, it’s one of those books.

To call Ms. Blake an artist is understating things. The Atlas Six draws you in and wraps you up in such a web of personality and intrigue. It is a true gem of world-building without even really having to build a world. The setting is very uniform, but the landscape and setting for this novel is really the characters themselves, and, boy howdy, there is such a rich variety of terrain. This is definitely one of those stories where I basically got knocked on my ass and had to sit there for a while re-assessing how I think about literary characters.

It’s just so hard to describe how this book affects its readers, but it will definitely affect you. I’ve read some amazing things this Summer, but I think I’m definitely going to have to crown The Atlas Six as my “don’t miss it” for Summer 2021.