Alien: Covenant Origins is a confusing reading experience. Set in the period between the Prometheus and Alien: Covenant films, it focuses on a cult’s attempt at preventing the latter ship from departing Earth’s orbit. But it poses more questions than it answers, gives little insight into characters you want to know more about and given that there were never going to be any Aliens, you have to wonder why the novel exists at all.
Alan Dean Foster has a history of creating impressive movie novelisations within the Alien universe, but this original work feels somewhat underdeveloped. Reading it, you get the sense elements have been removed, whether by the author himself, or under advice from the studio, and while it is Daniels and Tennessee, the central characters of the film you’re interested in, it is lesser figures Lope and Rosenthal who take centre stage here. As the plot of the novel revolves around terrorist attempts at stopping the ship departing, putting security officers to the fore makes sense, but any interest for the reader is dampened from the outset as you already know any plot fails.
There are interesting elements, not least of which are the political machinations that surround the Weyland-Yutani Corporation, and welcome depth is provided for the mysterious company and the merger. Telepathy and visions, common in the universe, are prominent themes, but never feel fully realised, and both the motives and actions of the cult – self-named Earthsavers – are as ineffective as they are random.
If you are an Alien completist then Foster’s novel may well satisfy, as it adds texture to parts of the universe rarely touched before. If you approach expecting backstory to the relationships central to the film, and to the motivations and personalities of the main crew, you will sadly be disappointed.
ALIEN: COVENANT ORIGINS / AUTHOR: ALAN DEAN FOSTER / PUBLISHER: MASS MARKET PAPERBACK / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW