"Aliens: Bug Hunt" Book Review
Written by R.J. MacReady
Published by Titan Books
Edited by Jonathan Maberry
2017, 352 pages, Fiction
Released on April 18th, 2017
Aliens: Bug Hunt is a collection of short stories set in the universe of the movie Aliens. I single out that movie rather than the original because this book should have been called Aliens: Colonial Marines, and probably would have if the video game hadn't taken that title.
Featuring eighteen stories of the Colonial Marines, Bug Hunt is a mixed bag of mostly excellent tales. Going in, I wasn't sure what to expect. Would this feature the Colonial Marines from the movie? (Yes and No) Would they be hunting only the Aliens from the movie, or other aliens? (Both)
The first story starts off a little rough. It's well-written but vague on what exactly the marines are fighting. They call the creatures "Leapers", but a lot of the description seems to point toward them being very Alien-like. It made me think the author should either go with having them fight Aliens, or create something radically different for them to fight, which other authors certainly did.
After the first tale, though, the book really takes off. Some stories detail only select characters from Aliens, like Dietrich and Frost in Matt Forbeck's "Exterminators", or one of the standouts, "Broken" by Rachel Caine, that features Bishop before he boarded the Sulaco. Others feature the whole crew from Aliens before that fateful encounter that most of them didn't survive.
Then there are stories featuring all-new, original marines on missions to battle bugs on behalf of Weyland-Yutani. One, "Dangerous Prey" by Scott Sigler, even takes on a mission from the Alien's point of view.
There's a lot to love here, especially if you're an Aliens fan. If you liked the movie, what's your problem? You should love the movie. And if you loved the movie then you'll no doubt enjoy the book. Jonathan Maberry has put together a terrific bunch of stories, with only one dud as far as I'm concerned.
I'm not out to shame any authors, but the story takes place during the time of Aliens, from the point of view of Burke after he runs off, leaving Ripley and crew to die. Those of us who have seen the deleted scenes of Aliens will know what happened after that, even though it was cut out of the movie. So this story is simply taking James Cameron's and slightly-and very unnecessarily-fleshing it out. I've read some of this author's fantasy work and really enjoyed it, so I'm not sure where the misstep took place.
However, one sub-par story in a book this size is still an impressive batting average, and does nothing to discourage me from recommending Aliens: Bug Hunt. Fans of Aliens should rightfully eat this up, since it doesn't appear we're ever going to get a worthy successor to Cameron's classic movie.