Review for “Alien: Covenant” the novelization by Alan Dean Foster

I have a confession to make…

 

I’m an Alien freak.

Can’t tell you how many times I watched Ridley’s Scott’s first “Alien” movie and the chest-bursting James Cameron sequel “Aliens,”  (the extended version rocks, by the way) but it was enough that, for a decade, I could recite whole sections of dialogue from those movies.

Now, when I was a kid, I lived in outback Newfoundland. There was no movie theatre in my town and it was a half-hour drive to even get to the nearest theatre, which was the Garrick theatre in Bonavista. The Garrick is a heritage site these days, and enjoys a much needed face-lift. It’s still nothing compared to the bigger, more luxurious theatres of the city, but the Garrick’s does have a spanking new Surround Sound  system, passable seats, and, something that the cineplexes do not have–that sense of nostalgia that you just can’t replicate. The Garrick holds a special place in my heart because it’s the place saw my first movie “Star Wars.” My aunt (who I consider my big sister) took me and, somewhere around Luke’s Leia’s, and Han’s escape from the Death Star, she decided to fall asleep (which, to this day, was something I couldn’t understand at the time–I mean, how the hell could anyone fall asleep on the rock hard awesomeness of STAR WARS!!!!)

I also saw FLASH GORDON on the big screen there. Yeah, you read that right. Fuckin’ Sam Jones Flash Gordon.  My dad brought me over to the theatre, dropped me off (he had no interest in such fare) and I went in and watched the movie. He was waiting when I came out after the flick, and the guy had to endure a kid hopped up on Queen’s FLASH! AhhhhAHHHHH!! He’ll save every one of us! for the next thirty minutes of the ride home.

Which, in retrospect, had to annoy the hell out of him, but also might’ve made him somewhat happy…He took me to something I wanted to see, and I damn well enjoyed myself. I still watch Flash Gordon, which is SF space fantasy at its finest. I mean…seriously, “Stop all engines. Repel boarders.”

If that don’t crank your gearstick, you’re not my kind of people.

Saw a few others at the Garrick: Conan The Barbarian, Raiders of the Lost Ark, even Star Crash (another guilty pleasure, but my gawd…. Caroline Munro at her finest). Even saw The Empire Strikes Back with my mom, who, unlike her sister, didn’t fall asleep.

Now, I saw a few movies at the Garrick, but I didn’t see all the ones I wanted to see. My dad was busy and he was the only driver in the house, so I had to be selective in what I wanted to see, and then nag someone to drive me to see the flick. There was also that thing about me being a kid, and R-rated flicks, so it took a while before I got to see those.

Not too long, however, as I remember this exchange before going in to see “Conan the Barbarian.”

Bearded Guy at wicket: “You old enough to see this show?”

Me(I think I was like, thirteen or fourteen.) : “Yeah.”

Bearded Guy at wicket: “There’s a lot of blood in it, y’know.” ((the nudity was fine, apparently))

Me (feet shuffling):“I’m okay.”

Bearded Guy at wicket, with only a second’s hesitation: “All right––go on in.”

 

To this day, I credit my like of orchestra music and the classics to Basil Poledouris and Bugs Bunny Cartoons.

 

Anyway, thing was, I couldn’t always get to the theatre, so I read a lot of novelizations.

 

Every week I’d head on down to the local drugstore, where there was a comic book display filled to capacity. And every week, I’d get an allowance (a buck or two—you got more back then), ride a bike some five kilometers to the drugstore, and picked up my favourites. As I got older, I got into pocket novels that caught my attention. Got my first Stephen King book at that pharmacy, the “Night Shift” collection, which I still have—the cover with the bandaged hand and the eyes peeking out of the palm. But I also found there were lots of novelizations of movies I couldn’t get to see. R-rated flicks like “Alien,” “Aliens,” “The Thing” or even PG flicks like “Clash of the Titans.”

See the pattern?

The movie books were the next best thing… and in some cases, *the* best thing. (Sorry Joe Rogan, we’ll agree to disagree).

And those titles I mentioned? All done by Alan Dean Foster.

Just so happens, while I was looking for something to read on Amazon, I saw that Mr. Foster wrote the novelization for Alien: Covenant.

That… took me back. So of course I bought it.

Which brings me back to me being an Alien freak. Of all movie/book villains from another world, the xenomorph from Alien is hands down the most unsettling, most ferocious, and certainly most deadly. There’s no give in the thing. Certainly no fear. And it possesses a disturbing intelligence for a bug.

Mr. Foster knows how to write Aliens. More to the point, I don’t think there’s anyone I’d want to see handle another Alien novelization.

“Alien: Covenant” rocks. But then, I’m a fan of Alan Dean Foster, so I might be bias. With sure hand, Mr. Foster once again breathes a corrupted and horrific life into the Aliens, and makes it the last creature anyone would want to encounter this side of the universe. I haven’t seen the movie yet…. And frankly I’m not sure I will (I kid about that part, sure I will). Mr. Foster masterfully describes scenes that, frankly, were disturbing. Shocking. The story was captivating, exciting, a real page clicker–think the right button on my kindle died I was clicking that fast.

 

I haven’t seen the movie yet for comparison, but this is one of those cases where the book just might be better than the movie…

So, if you’re like me, and have a problem getting to a theatre, or don’t have pay-per-view, or simply grew up reading Alan Dean Foster’s movie tie-ins, and the book is the only thing you can get your mitts on, then don’t worry…

“Alien: Covenant” is a five star adaptation.

Hope to read him again soon.

2 Comments

  • Posted August 25, 2017 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    Now I understand why I love your writing so much, Flash Gordon AND Alan Dean Foster. You sir, have amazing taste. 🙂 My entire family rolls their eyes and abandons the LR when I plug in Flash and I don’t care, still one of my great guilty pleasures all these years later. “Not the bore worms!”

  • Posted August 25, 2017 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    You truly are my people! 🙂

    “Dispatch War Rocket Ajax. And bring back his body!”

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