About the Author:
Tim Waggoner's first novel was published in 2001. As well as writing, he is also a professor of creative writing at Sinclair College.
AVERAGE REVIEW SCORE:
2 out of 5
When an industrial spy steals a Xenomorph egg from Weyland-Yutani, the Venture Corporation begins examining it at their planet-based facility known as the Lodge. Also at the Lodge, training its security personnel, is ex-Colonial Marine Zula Hendricks, who has the experience needed when the Xenomorph breaks free of containment.
The best word I could think of to describe the plot of this book is 'obvious'. The set-up is so familiar as to be cliche, with an unethical scientist falling in love with the Xenomorph, the alien inevitably escaping and then the local badass having to hunt it down. There's nothing about it that you couldn't predict more or less from the very beginning.
Well, that's not entirely true, to be fair. Waggoner introduces the idea that this particular specimen has incorporated a deadly virus into its genetic makeup and is therefore both alien killing machine and disease-infested plague vector. On a surface level this idea of the alien absorbing a disease from its host as well as the usual characteristics is an intriguing one, but the actual payoff in the text wobbles between silly and disappointing. Honestly, is there really anyone who wants to read about a Xenomorph, whose whole concept from H. R. Giger was that it was beautiful in a disturbing way, which has pus-filled boils all over its body and which goes around coughing on people?
On a side note, if Waggoner was going to make a deadly virus part of the plot, he should've dedicated a bit more time to understanding how viruses work and that you can't just lob a vaccine at someone whose infected and have it cure them instantly. Or am I being oversensitive about virus misinformation due to the currently ongoing global pandemic?
Another annoyance was the involvement of Zula Hendricks from the Aliens comics (as I understand it, this is set between 'Aliens: Defiance' and 'Aliens: Resistance'). It's not that she's a bad character, it's just that the idea that someone who has already fought the Xenomorphs just happening to take a job at a facility where a Xenomorph gets loose stretches credibility. With Ripley in the films there was always a legitimate reason she kept encountering these monsters in what is supposed to be a vast galaxy where they're almost unknown. Here, however, it's all too clear that the only reason Zula and the alien are both at the Lodge is so that the book can happen, with no further justification needed or offered.
Waggoner's prose is solid and engaging and some of the scenes are really well written; the training mission in the junkyard being particularly good. However, it's not enough to save a mediocre plot.
2 out of 5