With Covenant blasting into cinemas everywhere, it seems just the right time for One Giant Read to take a look at Aliens: Bug Hunt, a brilliant new collection of short stories from the world of the Xenomorph ...
Edited by Jonathan Maberry, Bug Hunt collects some great stories, and some great writers. If you’re a fan of the Alien universe, the book is unmissable.
Maberry, author of the Joe Ledger series, knows his Aliens. There’s a great editor’s introduction where he talks about the day he first crossed the path of Giger’s dark creations. “Some of these stories fit easily into the existing canon …” he says. “Other stories won’t necessarily be considered canonical though – they’re farther out on the edge …”
As it happens, Maberry’s own story – ‘Deep Black’ is one of my favourites in the book. Another is Yvonne Navarro’s ‘Reclamation’ – which is one of several stories to use original characters, in this case Dwayne Hicks. It’s the same with Christopher Golden’s superb ‘Blowback’ (“We do this quick and by the book. Is that clear?” barks Sergeant Apone in this one!). Bishop makes an appearance too in Rachel Caine’s brilliant ‘Broken’.
‘Deep Black’ has a perfect blunt-edged quality to it, the voices of the characters believably part of the world of Hudson and Hicks and their brutal Space Marine bravado. The story takes place some years on from the original Aliens, and neatly picks up the history of the movie saga. And it has a great ending.
Of all the stories, though, I have somehow come to think back most on Matt Forbeck’s clever 2000AD style riff on two guys walk into a bar: ‘Exterminators’. In this case Cynthia Dietrich and Ricco Frost no less. It takes the whole bug-hunting theme into a different place for a session – a run down bar, some desperate characters and … some pretty lethal creatures. Some Tequila, matches, propane, the night sky. It’s a darkly enjoyable Thargish sort of tale.
There’s no question this volume will appeal most to fans of the second movie – there’s a gleeful amount of shouting Colonial Marines stalking about with helmet-cams and blasting pulse rifles – but as Maberry says, there’s also plenty of work that captures that claustrophobic nightmarish isolation of the very first film.
With Covenant just out, this is an excellent purchase for Aliens fans. Perfectly framed short stories just the right size for your daily commute in the dropship down to the surface. Easily stowed for when you have to shoulder your M41A and head out into the dust-storm – to find out why no one is responding any more from the office …