About the Author:
Steve Perry has lived variously in Louisiana, California, Washington and Oregon and he began writing full-time in 1978. He has collaborated on writing projects with his novellist daughter S. D. Perry.
AVERAGE REVIEW SCORE:
3.7 out of 5
Aliens Omnibus: Volume One - Earth Hive & Nightmare Asylum
An omnibus of the novelisations of two of Dark Horse's Aliens graphic novels, originally by Mark Verheiden and Mark A. Nelson. In 'Earth Hive', Alien encounter survivors Billie and Sgt. Wilks join a team of Colonial Marines on a mission to the homeworld of the xenomorphs, whilst an infestation breaks out on Earth itself. The follow up, 'Nightmare Asylum', has Billie, Wilks and the Marine Bueller fleeing from the infected Earth only to find themselves on a remote outpost where the deranged General Spears intends to try taming the aliens to retake the Earth.
It is clear from the outset that the characters of Billie and Wilks were originally intended to be Newt and Hicks from 'Aliens' as they are carbon copies of those characters. Billie is a woman who, as a child, survived the destruction of her colony by the aliens and was rescued by a team of Colonial Marines. Wilks, one of those marines, even has facial scarring from xenomorph acid blood like Hicks receives in the film. The fact that they more or less just changed a few names when, for whatever reason, they weren't allowed to use the movie characters is one of this book's biggest frustrations. It's not Perry's fault, of course, but it affects his book nonetheless.
Once you get past the transparent character cloning, this is actually a perfectly enjoyable human versus alien romp. Don't get me wrong, it doesn't break too much ground, but it is enjoyable.
I think the best element of this book, for me, was the character of Spears. Whilst occasionally a bit of a stereotype (his style is clearly modelled after Patton's more theatrical character traits), he actually comes off as a really good villain. What makes him such a great character is that he is entirely convinced that he's doing what's best for all mankind and provides the chilling tension that only a true fanatic of a baddie can.
One aspect of this book that I haven't quite made my mind up about is how highly sexualised Billie is. It could be that Perry is just allowing the character to embrace her sexuality in a way which was repressed during the years she was sectioned, but part of me worries that it could just as easily be a bit of sexist fanboy service (they need a diversion so she gets her tits out). I haven't decided, so perhaps you should read it and figure it out for yourself.
3 out of 5
Star Wars: Shadows Of The Empire
3 ABY. A stand-alone novel that bridges the gap between 'The Empire Strikes Back' and 'Return Of The Jedi'. Perry introduces us to a brilliant new villain in this book, Prince Xizor, head of the criminal empire known as Black Sun. The interplay between Emperor Palpatine, Xizor and Darth Vader is perhaps the book's best element as each brings their own unique strengths to the scenes. Vader is perfectly portrayed as man of direct action and power, Palpatine's exact plans are well hidden behind his scheming manipulation and Xizor's calculating brilliance adds the perfect balance.
There's also an adventure for the old heroes as Luke, Leia, Lando and Chewbacca, joined by the arrogant rogue Dash Rendar, attempt to rescue the carbon-frozen Han. When Xizor attempts to assassinate Luke, in order to shame Vader's attempts to lure his son to the dark side, Leia tries to use Black Sun to track the assassins. There is a great scene in which Xizor uses his species' power of pheromonal seduction on Leia but is foiled by a certain angry Wookiee.
As well as having an interesting, intelligent and exciting story of its own, this book also reveals a lot about things we've seen in the films for years. Things like how Luke learns how to build the lightsaber he has in 'RotJ' are covered, we learn how Leia gets the bounty hunter costume she wears in the film and we get to see the story behind the line "Many Bothans died to bring us this information".
This book is one of my favourite Star Wars novels of all time and is a perfect place to start if you're new to the whole Expanded Universe (sorry, 'Legends') thing.
5 out of 5
Star Wars: Shadows Of The Empire - Evolution
(Art by Ron Randall and Tom Simmons)
4 ABY. Set after 'Return Of The Jedi', this is the story of the Human Replica Droid Guri's mission to purge herself of the memories that make her a target for the remnants of Black Sun.
This book serves to nicely tie up some of the loose ends of 'Shadows Of The Empire', such as Guri's fate, how Black Sun copes without Xizor and also features the brief return of someone you may have thought dead.
My favourite element of the book is the new bounty hunter, Kar Yang, but I was disappointed by his anticlimatic end at Guri's hands. Another flaw with this book is the use of the movie heroes (Luke, Han, Leia, Chewie, Lando and the Droids are all here), with their participation being entire superfluous and clearly tacked on because of Lucasfilm's fear of releasing anything without a marketing hook to put in the synopsis.
3 out of 5