Are you hungry for a little xenomorph excitement? I sure hope so because on the review menu for today is Alien: The Cold Forge by Alex White!
You know, it is incredibly hard to believe that Ridley Scott’s Alien is almost 40 years old. Since it first hit theaters on May 25, 1979, the franchise has become a household name, especially among horror and science fiction aficionados.
In fact, the film is so pervasive in American pop-culture that the Library of Congress inducted it into the National Film Registry in 2002, recognizing it as culturally significant and worthy of preservation as part of American film heritage. And over the last four decades, Alien has spawned numerous prequels, sequels, books, comic books, and films. People just adore this movie and I’m not one to disagree!
Like many, I grew up with Alien. I can’t remember a time when I was unaware of the film’s existence in some form or another. I’ve certainly been in love with it since I first saw it sometime in the 1990s, many years after its initial release. To me, Alien feels like beautiful and familiar territory—a terrifying yet comfortable comrade with whom I can share the cold solace of a dark night. And so, I was incredibly excited at the chance to read and review White’s Alien: The Cold Forge, released by Titan Books on April 24, 2018.
Set on the remote space station RB-323, also known as the Cold Forge, the Weyland-Yutani Corporation is up to its old tricks again. They’re still trying to figure out how to weaponize the xenomorphs and have hired brilliant geneticist Dr. Blue Marsalis to do the job. Unfortunately, she’s ill with a wasting disease that’s slowly killing her.
Of course, Blue also has a secret that could cost her both her life and her job. She’s not working on the project for which she was hired and Weyland-Yutani is getting anxious for results. They send Director Dorian Sudler to the Cold Forge to find out why two of the three secret projects on RB-323 aren’t producing results.
After one of the stations three top-secret projects gets loose (a computer virus called Silversmile), it decimates the station’s systems and the xenomorphs held in captivity are released. The crew now has to figure out how to survive.
An author has done their job well when a reader is able to connect to a character. It doesn’t matter if you love or hate them, if the characters make you feel, then the writer’s hit the mark. White has certainly accomplished this.
I can’t say that I truly liked any of the characters but I absolutely hated Dorian Sudler. First, he’s a spoiled rich boy running away from his father. He also thinks he’s better than everyone else. That made me dislike him. Now, manipulative, selfish, and egotistical I can deal with. It was his daddy issues that made me absolutely hate him. Not only is he a jerk, he’s also pathetic. He really has no redeeming qualities whatsoever.
Dorian fills the role of the villain in the book. The xenomorphs are a lurking threat once they break their containment but Dorian is the true evil in Alien: The Cold Forge. From the beginning, he sees everything as a game he has to win. Survival against the xenomorphs is just another chess match and the rest of the crew on the ship are his opponents.
Blue Marsalis is ultimately the hero of the story and Dorian’s main nemesis. Again, she’s not entirely a likable character, either, but she’s the true strong female of the bunch. She’s brilliant but also surly and demanding and I could understand her character’s thought process. After all, Blue is dying. She’s trapped in a body that is atrophying. She can barely breathe on her own and has less than a year to live. Her “side project,” the thing that’s kept her from completing the job the corporation hired her for, would save her life and possibly repair the damage done. Blue is desperate and running out of time and that makes her a far more sympathetic a character than any of the others.
The rest of the characters are rather ancillary and just okay. Anne is a far too gullible, falling for Dorian’s manipulations too easily. Lucy is irritating. Commander Cardozo is the typical military officer often found in science fiction novels. The most likable character in my opinion was Dick, the Australian taking care of the chimps Blue uses in her experiments.
White has done an amazing job with Alien: The Cold Forge. While he uses several of the typical tropes from the Alien franchise, he does it without making them seem over-done or worn-out. His take is fresh and unique, which made the 416 pages a pleasurably fast read. I honestly really enjoyed it.
One of the things that really impressed me was White’s explanation of the science. His description of the station was amazing. I loved how detailed the explanations of his futuristic science concepts were. He’s really given us a richly imagined setting within the Alien universe.
In the end, if you enjoy science fiction, and especially if you like the Alien franchise, give Alien: The Cold Forge a read. It’s well worth it.
You can get your copy of Alien: The Cold Forge now at Titan Books!