"Predator: If It Bleeds" Book Review
Written by R.J. MacReady
Published by Titan Books
Edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt
Stories by by Andrew Mayne, Mira Grant, Kevin J. Anderson, Jonathan Maberry, Tim Lebbon, John Shirley, Weston Ochse, Steve Perry, S.D. Perry, Larry Correia, Jeremy Robinson, Dayton Ward, Holly Roberds, Jennifer Brozek, Neo Edmund, Wendy N. Wagner, Peter J. Wacks, and David Boop
2017, 368 pages, Fiction
Released on October 17th, 2017
It's been a while since we've had any good Predator movies. The first one is obviously an amazing film that stands head-and-shoulders above any of the others. I didn't much like Predator 2, found the AVP movies to be pretty mundane, but enjoyed the breakneck pace of Predators. I've also enjoyed some of the comics, but those are pretty hit-and-miss too.
The bottom line, though, is that I like the Predator as a creature. Ergo, a volume full of new stories written by some talented writers sounds like a good time to me.
For a start, this review is going to sound a lot more critical than it is. Predator: If It Bleeds is pretty good. It really is. But if you're a fan of Predator, then you're probably a fan of Aliens. (And if you're not a fan of Aliens, you should immediately go to the emergency room because you've had a stroke.) My point is, if you like Aliens and you like Predator, and you're going to get just one book, then I'd go with the Aliens: Bug Hunt one that I reviewed here. It's the superior book.
However, if you're up for both books then by all means get them.
This is a collection of seventeen tales, and they start off promising with the first three stories. The first is "Devil Dogs" by Tim Lebbon, where a search and rescue team runs into a Predator on a floating space station. Has a definite Aliens feel to it.
The second story is "Stonewall's Last Stand" by Jeremy Robinson, and takes place during the Civil War, and actually features Stonewall Jackson running into a team of Predators. It's well written, but the injection of a historical figure into a Predator yarn is a little off-putting.
Steve Perry's story is next, and it's a good one. Entitled "Rematch", it features the Predators coming back to earth to attack a man who killed some of them years ago when they tried to hunt him. No, it's not Dutch from the original Predator, but I kept thinking it might turn out to be him. Nevertheless, it's a fun story. One of my favorites from the book.
The rest of the stories are mostly good. I only skipped two (after reading a few pages of each), and I won't shame any authors by naming them.
The stories in the book all range from ones in the past to the distant future. From vikings to samurai to Colonial Marines to cowboys and more.
I think part of my problem with the first half of this book lies with this; each story basically amounts to "A group of fighters is attacked by Predators". There's no variation from that. The saving grace is that most of the authors are excellent at giving you interesting characters to pit against the dreadlocked aliens, but it still boils down to that Star Trek episode, "The Gamesters of Triskelion", where Kirk and crew are pitted against gladiators. (And that one super sexy fighter girl in that silver suit. You know Kirk banged the crap out of that, right? I mean, probably after he punched her in the face. You can see the YouTube video here.)
(Back on track, RJ, get back on track.)
The weird part is that the variety I was looking for started halfway through the book, leaving me to wonder why they didn't sprinkle in more of the variety stories in the beginning so it wouldn't seem quite so repetitive. Once you pass that first half, you'll get my other favorite story by Larry Correia about a samurai hunter summoned by the emperor to find a "demon" that's been killing samurai across the countryside. The story ends with a pretty good turn, too.
Another tale features a variation of the western film The Searchers, but instead of a father hunting indians who have stolen his daughter, it's a Predator that has her. You'll even find a story featuring returning characters from the Predator 2 movie, though I didn't like the story any more than I did that movie.
As one final nitpick, we all know the saying "If it bleeds, we can kill it" (the book's title is half the saying), so there's really no need to include someone saying it in nearly half the stories. (And even the introduction.)
All in all, though, Predator: If It Bleeds is very solid, and if you're looking to quench that need for some new Predator stories while you're waiting for the new Shane Black movie, then this could do the trick for you. Honestly, if I could give .25 stars, I'd give this 3.75. Alas, they don't let me do that.