Title: Aliens: Earth Hive
(The Complete Aliens Omnibus Volume 1)
Author: Steve Perry
Publisher: Titan Books, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Release Date: October 1992
One of the earliest novels outside of the original novelizations of the screenplays, Aliens: Earth Hive is a thrilling “what if?” narrative that explores a potential future that Hicks and Newt might have lived had they not died in the crashed lifeboats in Alien 3. Well, almost.
Steve Perry’s novel is based upon the spin-off Aliens comic Outbreak, which follows the two characters. However, when Alien 3 released in theaters, the two beloved characters met a darker fate. As a result, the novel, which released at the same time as the film, follows Wilks and Billie, two obvious stand-ins for Hicks and Newt. As such, the story exists within the canon of the films, but essentially plays out a fan fiction wherein the two survive.
Having survived a Xenomorph infestation on a colony known as “Rim,” Billie has grown into adulthood within the confines of an asylum. Doctors run medical experiments on her and try to convince her that her memories are symptoms of psychosis. When Billie refuses to deny what she knows to be real, she is schedule for a lobotomy.
Similarly, Colonial Marine Wilks has struggled since surviving the rescue mission on Rim, abusing alcohol and routinely ending up in the brig for fighting. Weyland-Yutani refuses to push for a discharge however as the company and the government believe another encounter with the Xenomorphs is inevitable. An expert will be needed.
As the story progresses, Wilks rescues Billie and the two undertake a mission to what is believed to be the Xenomorph homeworld. Their task—capture a specimen for the government’s weapons division.
Eventually, chaos ensues, and as the title suggests, a Xenomorph infestation begins on Earth.
How Wilks and Billie navigate the challenges of their mission and respond to unexpected crises is the bulk of the narrative. However, the novel does end somewhat ambiguously as it is only book one of a trilogy.
What the Novel Does Well
Even though it’s not literally an alternate future for Hicks and Newt, the novel essentially provides a statisfying narrative that does exactly that. Fans of the films will definately enjoy this story, particularly those who grew up in the 80s and spent six years imagining what came after Aliens.
Perry’s development of the Newt-like Billie, particularly her PTSD as an adult and her struggles to find meaningful relationships, is compelling. So much of the Alien(s) franchise has been about psychological terror. Billie’s journey falls squarely within this vein.
Wilk’s own disillusionment also rings true. An aging soldier who knows far more than the young Colonial Marine’s he’s paired with, Wilks easily wins the adoration of readers. His desire to protect Billie contrasts sharply with Billie’s desire to be seen as an adult survivor.
As with many writers in the Aliens universe, Perry compellingly explores the role of synthetic life. Where is the line between organic and synthetic life in terms of value, capacity to love, and evolutionary drive? For those passionate about such issues, Aliens: Earth Hive hits the mark.
Where the Novel Falls Short
Perry’s novel released early in the Aliens narrative universe. At the time of its release, the canon was still being built and adopted. As such, certain settled issues remain open questions in the novel. For example, the crashed derelict spaceship makes an appearance with its classic horseshoe shape, along with a brief cameo from the Engineers. The novel’s publication came decades before Prometheus and Alien: Covenant. As such, contemporary fans may balk over the way Perry’s novel handles these appearances.
There are also a few canonical details that Perry mishandles. Fans will likely notice that he refers to the Cheyenne Dropship as an APC, which would typically refer to the tank or armored personnel carrier that the Colonial Marines take into the colony on LV-426.
Aliens: Earth Hive is a thrilling read, well worth the time of any fan of the Aliens narrative universe and the accompanying novels. What’s more, the novel is part of a trilogy, providing a less common opportunity to dive deep into extendend narratives and engage in longer story.
Perry is a skilled writer who proves more than worthy for the task. His novel earns its place in the franchise and deserves recognition for pioneering the way for future authors to contribute to the storied franchise.
Aliens: Earth Hive is a solid 3.5 / 5 stars, providing a largely expected experience, but a quality one nonetheless.
Featured Image: Titan Books
To see our review of Aliens: Colony War, click here.
David Lasby is the Editor-in-Chief for Boss Rush Network. His favorite video games are The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, and the Aliens franchise. You can find him on Twitter to talk all things Nintendo, sci-fi / fantasy, and creative writing.