Book Review: The Complete Alien Collection: Symphony of Death by Alex White and Tim Waggoner

Following on the heels of their initial Alien omnibus collection at the start of the year, Titan Books is closing out the year with another collection of three standalone Alien novels. The new omnibus brings together two books written by Alex White and one by Tim Waggoner, previously released as separate novels between 2018-21. While it’s great to have so much Alien content in one economical, medium-height paperback, it borders on unwieldy at nearly 900 pages in length. 

Alex White’s first contribution here, The Cold Forge, details what happens when the almighty Weyland-Yutani company suffers the loss of xenomorphs (aka Aliens) they sought to weaponize. Not surprisingly, they have a redundancy in place, the titular facility just waiting to be called into action. After dispatching their corporate cost-cutter named Dorian across space to assess the station’s progress, he learns of a potential spy on board who may destroy the entire endeavor, if the xenomorphs don’t wreak havoc first. White introduces a handicapped scientist working on her own clandestine research at the station, as well as her synthetic helper, establishing intriguing characters before the inevitable xenomorph shenanigans. 

Tim Waggoner’s entry is titled Prototype, which again involves a corporate spy, but this time also features some Colonial Marines. His book reveals that Weyland-Yutani isn’t the only game in town, focusing on a rival company called Venture that is even more ruthless in their pursuit of riches from exploited xenomorphs. When Venture’s spy acquires an odd egg, she takes it to their testing facility on a remote planet, leading them to determine that human trials are needed to unlock the egg’s potential. The book is largely told from the point of view of Zula, a veteran Colonial Marine who also featured in a prior Alien novel based on the videogame, Alien: Isolation. The tie-in to past continuity and the unique xenomorph, a “necromorph” plagued with cellular necrosis, give this one a boost.

Into Charybdis is an indirect follow-up to White’s first entry, albeit in an entirely different setting. The story follows blue-collar space contractors dispatched to construct a new colony on the ruins of a Weyland-Yutani facility known as Charybdis. Unfortunately, the colony currently belongs to hostile Iranians, and it’s situated over a series of hidden caves. When the contractors run afoul of the locals and end up imprisoned, they sneak out a distress call to Colonial Marines, setting up explosive showdowns between the opposing human forces and the terrors awoken from the deep.

All three of the books are fine extensions of the Alien IP and provide plenty of horror, sci fi, and interesting characters. I didn’t expect to encounter character development of a xenomorph, as we get with the unique necromorph, but I also enjoyed the believable human character growth and interaction in all three tales. The books all hit their required marks: remote, terrifying locations, military action, conflicted characters, evil corporations, and xenomorphs running rampant. There’s plenty to devour here for all fans of the Alien universe while we wait for their continuing screen adventures.

The Complete Alien Collection: Symphony of Death is available on digital platforms now and in print on November 28th, 2023.

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Steve Geise

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