DeCandido, Keith R. A.

About the Author:

Keith R. A. Candido has been a writer for over twenty-five years and in 2009 the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers presented him with a Lifetime Achievement Award.



3 out of 5

(1 book)

Alien: Isolation

The novelisation of the survival horror video game (originally written by Dan Abnett).  When the flight recorder of the Nostromo is found by a team of salvagers technician Amanda Ripley joins a mission to recover it, hoping to discover the fate of her mother Ellen, who disappeared fifteen years earlier.  They travel to Sevastopol Station to retrieve the flight recorder but soon discover that chaos has broken out aboard the station.  Confronted by the station's violent inhabitants and homocidal androids, Amanda also learns that there is an alien killer stalking the hallways.

I was enjoying this book a great deal to begin with, as it begins strongly with salvagers setting down on LV-426 and then moves on to build the story of Amanda's life after the disappearance of her mother.  Amanda herself is a great character too, with the right amount of charisma and badassery to be worthy of the name Ripley, as well as being distinctly driven by her almost obsessive need for information regarding her mother.  The latter element makes her participation in this story seem justified when it could easily have just seemed contrived.

Sevastopol Station itself is also a great setting for an Alien story, actually coming across as the perfect mix of the claustrophic spacevessel as seen in 'Alien' and the run-down township seen in 'Aliens'.

Unfortunately, about a third of the way in this book's biggest failing begins to show; the fact that it's the novelisation of a computer game.  Game novelisations often stumble into two major pitfalls and DeCandido falls into both here.  The first is that, for some reason, authors novelising games always seem to feel the need to include technical specs from in-game items in the book.  For example where the word 'gun' or 'pistol' would suffice perfectly from a narrative standpoint, here it has to always be referred to as a Flezbaum 76 instead (okay, I made that one up, but you get the point).  Every tool and gadget that Amanda uses has to be given its in-game technical name and it rapidly gets annoying.  The second, far worse, pitfall is that by their nature computer games have a lot of 'go here, pick up that, go back, open this door, unlock that device, etcetera, etcetera'.  Even a game with as awesome a plot as 'Isolation' has these game mechanics and DeCandido unfortunately includes all too many of them in the actual text.

A great new story concept and interesting new main character for the 'Alien' franchise but sadly spoiled a bit by being a cross-media tie-in.

3 out of 5


Alien (here)