Alien: River of Pain by Christopher Golden and Dirk Maggs

Posted May 4, 2017 by michaelhicks in Reviews / 0 Comments

Alien: River of Pain by Christopher Golden and Dirk MaggsRiver of Pain by Christopher Golden, Dirk Maggs
Narrator: Alexander Siddig, Anna Friel, Colin Salmon, Marc Warren, Michelle Ryan, Philip Glenister, William Hope
Series: Alien #3
Published by Audible Studios on 27 April 2017
Length: 4 hrs and 54 mins
Genres: Horror, Science Fiction
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
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Ellen Ripley finally returns to Earth, only to discover that LV-426 — where the crew of the Nostromo first came into contact with the deadly xenomorphs — has been renamed Acheron.

Protected by Colonial Marines, the colonists seek to terraform the storm-swept planet against all the odds. But in the face of brutal living conditions and the daily struggles of a new world, there is humanity and hope. Anne and Russell Jorden — two colonists who are seeking a fortune that eluded them on Earth — are expecting their firstborn child.

The birth of Rebecca Jorden, known to her family as Newt, is a cause for celebration. But as the colony grows and expands, so, too, do the political struggles between a small detachment of Colonial Marines and the Weyland-Yutani scientists posted on Acheron. Willing to overlook their orders in order to serve the Company's interests, these scientists have another far more sinister agenda — to covertly capture a living Alien.

The wildcatters discover a vast, decaying spaceship. The horseshoe-shaped vessel is of particular interest to Weyland-Yutani and may be the answer to their dreams. But what Anne and Russell find onboard proves to be the stuff not of dreams but of nightmares.

This terrifying, cinematic, multicast dramatization — directed by the multiaward-winning Dirk Maggs, best known for his adaptations of Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere for the BBC — is the sequel to Audible Original's Alien: Out of the Shadows (nominated for Best Audio Drama at the 2017 Audies).

Starring Golden Globe-nominated Anna Friel (Pushing Daisies, Limitless), Alexander Siddig (Star Trek: Deep Space 9, Game of Thrones), Michelle Ryan (Bionic Woman, Doctor Who), Colin Salmon (Alien vs Predator, Arrow, James Bond), Marc Warren (Mad Dogs, Saving Private Ryan, Hustle) and Philip Glenister (Outcast, Life on Mars), with special guest star William Hope returning as Lt. Gorman from James Cameron's Aliens.

©2017 20th Century Fox (P)2017 Audible, Ltd.


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Alien: River of Pain, the latest Audible Original Drama to commemorate Alien Day (4/26, as in the planetary vacation hot-spot LV-426), picks up right on the heels of the film, Alien, and last year’s audiodrama, Alien: Out of the Shadows.  Here, a group of colonists have begun settling and terraforming the inhospitable rock cataloged as LV-426, now renamed Acheron. Fans of the movie Aliens know exactly where things are headed, though, and this story serves as a direct prequel and side-story to that film, as author Christopher Golden takes us through the xenomorphic siege of the lost colony.

Much of this production’s first half is a slow burn, as listeners are introduced to the various factions and individuals within the colony. There’s the colony administrator, the various teams of surveyors, including Russ and Anne Jorden and their children (one of whom is the first human born on Acheron and goes by the nickname Newt), scientists from the Weyland-Yutani mega-corporation, and a team of marines, led by their new commander Damien Brackett. Interspersed between the story of Acheron’s development are snippets of Ellen Ripley’s recovery, much of which is lifted straight out of Aliens and provides a timeline of continuity between the two stories. Fans of Laurel Lefkow will be pleased to know the actress returns from Out of the Shadows to once again voice Ripley, delivering a pitch-perfect performance that eerily and uncannily resembles Sigourney Weaver’s original performance.

It’s not until the mid-way point of the production that things kick into high gear after the Jorden’s receive orders from Weyland-Yutani to survey a set of very specific coordinates, which lead them to a very familiar derelict ship, and a very familiar discovery. From that point on, the production gets it Alien freakshow going good.

While River of Pain is an entertaining listen, due largely to Dirk Maggs’ intense production values and fully immersive soundscape, and solid performances across the board from the drama’s large cast, this does come with a caveat. This is an enjoyable listen, but nothing about the story is particularly surprising. Anybody who has seen Aliens knows exactly what this story is about and how it will unravel right from the very start (although the very last moments do provide an interesting twist and potential for future exploration). The cast and crew are certainly game for it all, though, and I’m certainly happy to listen to an Audible Original, particularly when it involves one of my favorite sci-fi horror franchises. From a production standpoint, this book is certainly a success and is chock-full of atmosphere, gunfire, screams, and alien threats lurking right behind you.

With this latest release, Audible has now produced two dramas based on novels originally published as part of Titan Books’ 2014 trilogy. Alien: Sea of Sorrows, written by James A. Moore, has yet to be adapted, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed for an Alien Day 2018 release.

About Dirk Maggs

Dirk Maggs, a freelance writer and director working across all media, is principally known for his work in radio, where he evolved radio drama into “Audio Movies,” a near-visual approach combining scripts, layered sound effects, cinematic music and cutting edge technology. He pioneered the use of Dolby Surround in BBC Radio. He was among the first nominees for the Directors Guild of Great Britain Outstanding Achievement in Radio Award, and in 2005 he was invited to become one of the first Honorary Fellows of the University of Winchester for his work in the dramatic arts.

From 2003 to 2005, Maggs produced new episodes of Douglas Adams’ science fiction comedy series The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, adapted from the novels based on the original radio series that Adams wrote. The books that Maggs adapted were written after the radio series ended its original run.

He co-founded Perfectly Normal Productions Ltd (PNP) with Paul Weir and Richard Adams to create compelling high quality popular audio drama in serialized form for delivery to personal digital players and cell phones.

Early in his career Dirk became known for directing adaptations of comic book storylines. He started in 1988 with the 50th Anniversary Man Of Steel docudrama Superman on Trial, carried on with a 50th birthday tribute to the Dark Knight: Batman: The Lazarus Syndrome. This was followed by The Adventures Of Superman, Batman: Knightfall, The Amazing Spider-Man and his final BBC Radio superhero series, Judge Dredd in 1995. Along the way his production of Superman: Doomsday and Beyond (“Superman Lives” in the USA) won the 1994 Audie Award for Best Dramatisation from the American Booksellers Association and Spoken Word Audio of The Year from Publishers Weekly.

About michaelhicks

Michael Patrick Hicks is the author of the science fiction novel Convergence, an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2013 Quarter-Finalist. He is also the author of the short horror story, Consumption, and his work appears in the science fiction anthology, No Way Home. He lives in Michigan and is hard at work on his next story.

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