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Book Review

Book Cover

Sea of Sorrows


Author: James A. Moore
Publisher: Titan Books
RRP: £7.99
ISBN: 978 1 78329 285 1
Publication Date: 25 July 2014

The colony on LV178, for all intents and purposes, appears to be thriving. The atmosphere generators have long since been silenced and three thriving cities adorn the new planet. For deputy commissioner Alan Decker, this should be a source of great pride, except for the Sea of Sorrows, a portion of the planet which appears to be reverting back to some alien landscape. On an expedition to discover just what is happening Decker is involved in an accident which breaches the surface. In peril for his life Decker connects with something far more ancient and malevolent, something which haunts his dream with visions of a biomechanical hell...

Alien: Sea of Sorrows (2014. 309 Pages) is the second in a new trilogy of books set in the Alien universe, the book was written by James A. Moore. The book follows on from the events depicted in Alien: Out of the Shadows.

The story suffers from much of the limitations of other Alien spin-offs. Decker, who we discover is the descendent of Ellen Ripley, is sent back to LV178 with a company of mercenaries to try and recover a live sample of the alien for the Weyland-Yutani corporation, who are predictably a bunch of heartless bureaucratic idiots, still trying to add a sample to their bioweapons division.

From this point on the book follows the familiar format of placing the humans in extreme conditions only to have them picked off, pretty much a reworking of the second alien film: lots of killing and lots of guns.

It’s always going to be a difficult ask to add anything new to the series, after all the first two films did a sterling job at presenting a predator which could not be understood, other than its propensity to kill in a most gruesome manner. Its unfamiliarity was its greatest weapon.

In an effort to bring something new to what is predominantly a rerun of Aliens, Moore lets us into some of the thought processes behind the aliens. In truth I think that this was a bad idea. In much the same way as the Borg and the Daleks started out as relentlessly fearsome forces to be survived, rather than to overcome, the endless familiarity which came with repeated exposure downgraded the threat. The same has happened to the aliens.

For a start, when thinking about their queen, the warrior drone refer to her as sacred, which means they have a concept of religion and are therefore thinking creatures with the ability of abstract concepts, so much more understandable. While there will be portions of the readership delighted by finally getting a peak behind the veil, I felt it moved the creature back to the familiar and away from what made them initially scary.

The characters in the book, like many in the films, are disposable - only there to be rent apart in suitable gruesome ways for our entertained edification. There are the usual plot devices which makes the characters creep around without any suitable communications or lights, so lots of opportunities for the reader to feel superior when they walk into places we know we wouldn’t.

The other problem I had with the book, apart from Decker’s empathic abilities which verged on the telepathic was the alien’s motives. Now that we consider that they are an intelligent, if single minded species, the reason that they hate Decker so much is that they can tell that he is one of Ripley’s decedents and she is not on their Christmas card list.

All these things aside Moore has delivered a book which has enough familiar elements to please Alien fans.


Charles Packer

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