Alien: Out of the Shadows is a novel, audiobook, and – in this particular case – an Audible audio drama.
Set between Alien and Aliens, the first two movies, Tim Lebbon’s take on the Alien universe pits the crew of the Marion against a Xenomorph invasion upon a mining colony.
Respectful of the source material, whilst carving out its own path, Alien: Out of the Shadows is a thoroughly impressive production.
With a phenomenal cast, excellent sound engineering, and a solid narrative, this Audible audio drama is well worth your time.
Xeno Evil, Hear no Evil
In a tense, horror-like series like Alien, immersion is paramount so I was utterly thrilled by the production value of Out of the Shadows.
This is definitely one to listen to with your headphones on, rather than through speakers (bonus points if you have headphones with binaural audio!)
All of the classic sci-fi audio cues are here.
Metal clangs satisfyingly, sliding doors whirr open, and lift shafts judder and moan in their decrepitude. Meanwhile, – the protagonists’ voices echo authentically in the depths of the mining colony.
Occasionally you’ll hear the Aliens chitter away in the background, signalling their closer proximity. Always a threat.
And then there’s the voice acting, of which I’m not sure the English language possesses enough superlatives. Seriously – the cast is incredible.
Is Alien: Out of the Shadows a classic?
Out of the Shadows presents an enjoyable tale. Not wholly original, but thrilling nonetheless. However, it’s the characters that make it a success.
You’ll immediately recognise a familiar voice in Matthew Lewis (of Neville Longbottom fame). Lewis puts in a fantastic performance as Baxter.
Laurel Lefkow as Ripley is inspired. I actually had to pause and triple-check that Sigourney Weaver wasn’t in the credits. Amazing.
Meanwhile, Rutger Hauer plays a menacing AI – thwarting our heroes/fodder at every step. Again, an impeccably sinister performance.
The crew themselves are good fun, with Hooper as the leader; voiced strongly by Corey Johnson.
Lachance is really great fun too, adding levity to an increasingly stressful journey, whilst Sneddon has easily the best arc in the narrative.
Typically in this genre, characters are introduced simply to die. It’s therefore pleasantly surprising that the wider cast aren’t just ‘Alien fodder’ – they’re an entertaining cast in their own right.
Out of the Shadows is packed with Alien tropes and fan service, but it doesn’t feel gimmicky. In fact, it’s a brilliant entry that’s on par with Ridley Scott’s movies.
There are even some neat references to the wider universe, including Alien: Isolation – the excellent survival horror video game starring Amanda Ripley (seriously, if you’re an Alien fan – or just a survival horror fan – you need to pick up a copy of that game).
With ten episodes at around 28 minutes each, Alien: Out of the Shadows is a really addictive listen. It has that quintessential ‘just one more episode’ vibe, which so many TV shows try (and ultimately fail) to capture.
If you’re an Alien fan – you’ll love this. And even if you aren’t an Alien purist, there’s a lot to appreciate here. Certainly more than the movies Fox has released in recent years.
The cast is wonderful, the narrative works as an efficient vehicle for the characters, and this Audible production is of the absolute highest quality.
I can’t wait to listen to it again, and I strongly encourage anyone reading this review to do so too!
And if audio dramas aren’t for you, the book is included in Amazon’s generous Kindle Unlimited programme.