About the Author:
Alex White was born and raised in the southern USA. He lives in Huntsville, Alabama with his family.
AVERAGE REVIEW SCORE:
4 out of 5
Alien: The Cold Forge
Set shortly after 'Aliens', but not inherantly linked to that story, here corporate hatchette man Dorian Sudler is sent to the Cold Forge, a secret Weyland-Yutani weapons development station, to investigate the projects there which have fallen behind schedule. He becomes enraptured by project Glitter Edifice, the attempted weaponisation of the xenomorphs, but finds an antagonist in it's project leader Doctor Marsalis. When the Cold Forge's systems begin failing, however, it is only a matter of time before the aliens break free.
There are two main criticisms I've seen levelled at this novel; the fact that the protagonists are horrible people and that it panders to SJW types. I feel that one of these criticisms is irrelevant and the other, in this case, is actually a source of strength for the narrative. The irrelevant one is, of course, the alt-right one about it pandering. Sure, Blue Marsalis is a disabled, black, lesbian woman, but actually only one of those things has a significant role to play in the actual story (I'm discounting 'lesbian' because although who Blue loves is a feature, the fact that it's a woman is not the important part). It is only Blue's bed-ridden medical condition that has any significant focus in the book and, honestly, the idea of physically not being able to do something as primal as run away in a confrontation with the Aliens adds a whole new level to the tension.
The other criticism, about the characters all being horrible people, is a bit harder to dismiss. I've often said that I need a sympathetic protagonist in order to really get invested in a story, but I have to say that here that wasn't the case. If anything, I found having the two main POV characters being a selfish, unethical scientist and a burgeoning psycopath was actually an interesting change of pace. Sure, we're supposed to empathise more with Blue, but the novel is never shy about pointing out how cynical and unlikeable she can be. Sudler on the other hand was a real treat to read because his actions and demeanour are completely at odds with the psychopath beneath. I loved the idea that, if this were a movie and you only had visuals and dialogue to go on, Dorian would totally be the hero right up until he snaps, but here we get to see the deep antipathy towards other human beings he has from the very first page. This way the surprise isn't that he's evil, it's just how far down that road he chooses to go.
If you need a sympathetic hero character to get behind then you may struggle with this book (although I didn't), but if you want a claustrophobic, tense and intriguing story featuring the xenomorphs, then you wouldn't go far wrong with this.
4 out of 5