Hidden away within the generally disappointing (and you suspect cynically conceived) sequels in the Predator and Alien franchises exists the fragments of several good ideas. As Hollywood now obsesses over the need to create shared universes, it is easy to forget or dismiss the one housing two of cinemas most iconic bad guys; tusked hunters the Yautja and the seemingly unstoppable Xenomorph. As film versions struggle for credibility, there comes a new trilogy of tie-in novels from author Tim Lebbon beginning with Predator – Incursion, and it would be worth a few screenwriters giving it a read.
The challenge facing any author when it comes to tie-in novels is how to make the story original and relevant in a universe that fans both casual and committed feel they know so well. The source Alien and Predator films were so strong, so era defining, that it would be easy for any subsequent stories to devalue them. It is a challenge that Lebbon has risen to. Predator – Incursion seems to take much of its inspiration from James Cameron’s 1986 Aliens; here focussing on a branch of Colonial Marines known as Excursionists and visiting worlds that conjure up images of colonised planets as seen in that seminal film. With a detailed timeline that could have been confusing, yet cleverly isn’t, and characters that feel as real as the aliens they face, this is a story that rattles on at a great pace, rarely giving the reader time to draw breath.
As an opener to a new trilogy, Predator – Incursion is an exciting and interesting novel that opens up an abundance of possibilities for this familiar universe. It may not appeal to those not already enamoured with the genre or the franchise, but fans will relish the action and political intrigue at the heart of Lebbon’s novel.
PREDATOR – INCURSION: THE RAGE WAR BOOK 1 / AUTHOR: TIM LEBBON / PUBLISHER: TITAN BOOKS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW