July 15, 2020

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Alien Covenant Origins cover

Alien: Covenant Origins by Alan Dean Foster Review

Alien Covenant Origins cover

For some time there have been rumblings about a sequel to the 2017 movie Alien: Covenant. That movie was a soft reboot of the franchise, it was also a quasi-sequel to Prometheus. Itself a soft-reboot of the franchise. Prior to Alien: Covenant being released a prequel novel Alien: Covenant Origins written by Alan Dean Foster was released. In anticipation of Alien: Covenant 2 I read this Origins story and here is the review.

So what is it all about?

So what is the story about? Alien: Covenant Origins is set in the weeks before the colony ship Covenant departs Earth for Origae-6. In the movie we know the ship was ultimately detoured to investigate the planet of the Engineers, but none of that has yet happened. Instead the Covenant, and the company organizing the colonization – Weyland-Yutani – face a series of sabotages. The story is thus more of a whodunnit. It switches character viewpoint frequently, but the focus is often on security chief Lope, his deputy Rosenthal and Hideo Yutani, head of the Weyland-Yutani.

Weyland-Yutani: Origins

In fact, this story can is the origin story for the Weyland-Yutani company. The prototype for every megacorps in fiction since the 80s. Origins will appeal to readers who want to know more of the background story of Prometheus and Alien: Covenant. Author Alan Dean Foster focuses considerable time on world-building. The rivalry in the corporate world of the future is intense, augmented by the damaged ecology of planet Earth.

The author goes into some detail to establish how the company Weyland-Yutani came into being after the death of Peter Weyland in Prometheus. There are vivid descriptions of London, Tokyo and Japanese culture. I recently visited London so I found it a delight to see so many landmarks described in the story.

Some minor flaws

If there is one major flaw I can point out with this book is the lack of any aliens. The titular xenomorphic villains from the franchise are in the franchise’s timeline not yet discovered. That may upset some fans, but I do like their absence. After all, their presence all too often means most if not all human characters will be dead by the end movie, game or novel. And that is probably the single biggest failure of the Alien franchise. Instead this novel cheats by referring to the ferocity of Aliens as hypothetical. It is only the ‘villain’ who has visions of them.

Are there any more flaws? Well, one minor flaw. There are appears to be a lack of focus on any particular character. The novel switches viewpoint several times. Sometimes we are following sergeant Lope and his newly ordained deputy Rosenthal. At other moments it is the head of Weyland-Yutani – Hideo Yutani. Or his daughter, or the Yakuza crime-boss he associates with. Then the viewpoint switches to the supposed ‘villain’ of the story and his group of hench-people. In short, we get everybody’s perspective, but I feel as if little of it matters.

Concluding Alien Covenant Origins

Afterall, for those who have seen the movies Prometheus and Alien: Covenant, everybody dies except for 2 characters: Daniels and Tennessee. The former makes a brief appearance in this novel. It is hard to feel invested in the characters within the Alien franchise if they are killed off. I had difficulty with Prometheus when Vickers (Charlize Theron) died at the end, then I discovered watching Alien: Covenant that Noomi Rapace’s characters Elizabeth Shaw died off-screen between the stories.

It may explain the lackluster performance of the franchise at the box office, once is enough. And yet, I want to see Alien: Covenant 2.