Epeolatry Book Review: The Complete Alien Collection: Symphony of Death by Alex White and Tim Waggoner
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Title: The Complete Alien Collection: Symphony of Death
Author: Alex White and Tim Waggoner
Genre: TV, Movie & Game Tie-In Fiction; Science Fiction Adventure
Publisher: Titan Books
Release Date: 28th November, 2023
Synopsis: Collected together for the first time, this action-packed omnibus is filled with secrets, lies, and the silver smile of the deadly Xenomorphs. Across three epic novels, see how the Xenomorph doctrine of Weyland-Yutani and Venture is a short and angry road to hell.
The Cold Forge
Weyland-Yutani has suffered a devastating setback: the loss of the Xenomorphs they aggressively sought to exploit. True to form, they have a redundancy already in place… the facility known as The Cold Forge. When company man Dorian Sudler is sent to assess their progress, he discovers that there’s a spy aboard who may destroy the entire station… That is, if the Xenomorphs don’t do the job first.
Corporate spy Tamar Prather steals a Xenomorph egg from Weyland-Yutani, taking it to a lab run by Venture… Former Colonial Marine Zula Hendricks has been tasked with training personnel to deal with anything that gets thrown their way, but nothing can prepare them for the horror that breaks out of Venture’s lab.
“Shy” Hunt and the tech team from McAllen Integrations thought it was an easy job—set up environmental systems for the brand new Hasanova Data Solutions colony, built on the abandoned ruins of a complex known as “Charybdis.” There are just two problems: the colony belongs to the Iranian state, and the complex is located above a series of hidden caves. Charybdis has a darker history than any could imagine, and its depths harbor deadly secrets.
The deeper they dig, the more Shy is convinced there’s no one they can believe. When a bizarre ship lands on a nearby island, one of the workers is attacked by a taloned creature, and trust evaporates between the Iranians and Americans. The McAllen integrations crew are imprisoned, accused of being spies, but manage to send out a distress signal… to the Colonial Marines.
From Titan Books comes The Complete Alien Collection: Symphony of Death, a massive collection of three novels from the Aliens series. This collection contains The Cold Forge by Alex White, Prototype by Tim Waggoner, and Into Charybdis also by Alex White.
As a collection, Titan Books compiled great examples of the expanded universe of the Aliens franchise. For those familiar only with the movies, you’ll recognize the usual names, like Weyland-Yutani Corporation, and the usual terms, like xenomorph. From there, this collection serves as a wonderful introduction into Aliens canon.
The Cold Forge by Alex White is a bit of a slow burn that deals largely with the bureaucracy of running a major bio-engineering facility. One of the main characters will help tie the three stories together as they return later in the series. Prototype by Tim Waggoner is more exciting, combining the slow methodic process of the xenomorph life-cycle with the introduction of the colonial marines who help quash a unique xenomorph threat. Into Charybdis by Alex White sees the colonial marines dealing with a geo-political crisis and will have the reader’s head spinning as to who the real bad guys are.
For those who thought Weyland-Yutani Corporation was the only game in town, you’ll be pleased to know there are other sinister corporations out in space. Some, like the Seegson Corporation, have no qualms about poaching promising scientists for their own gain. While others, like Venture, are keen on straight up poaching the rarest lifeforms right from Weyland-Yutani ships. Even so, these corporations might not be as ruthless as the governments at play in his Franchise.
One of the best products to come out of the Alien’s movies was the old line of Kenmore toys. The produced toys gave the possibility of over-the-top Alien variations. So, when it comes to getting xenomorph variants in canon, that’s something special. While something like the “chimp alien” might not be that unique, a creature dubbed “the necromorph” with a unique ability unlike anything a xenomorph has possessed before opens all sorts of possibilities. Couple that with human/xenomorph genetic mutation and you’ve got reasons to keep reading.
One of the biggest differences between the movies and novels is who assumes the role of antagonist. In the movies, it’s fair to say that the creatures play the biggest roles, while the human baddies are secondary. Those roles are swapped in the novels—the creatures play secondary to the scheming or mishaps of their human counterpart. The biggest bads are scientists or rogue agents of the various above corporations trying to weaponize and study the xenomorphs.
The Complete Alien Collection: Symphony of Death from Titan Books is an amazing example of the wider canon of the Alien Franchise. The three books chosen to fill it are well connected and provide an interesting reader payoff. For fans of the movies who’ve never read the comics or novels, this collection is highly recommended.
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Joseph Pietris is a member of the United States Coast Guard by day and heavily involved in the horror community by night. His work has appeared in several anthologies. When not writing, he’s produced reviews and interviews preferring those works generally lost in the cracks. As an associate editor, Joseph has weeding through the submission piles of horror podcasts.
Joseph’s work can be found at Amazon.com: Joseph P. Pietris: books, biography, latest update