Aliens: Phalanx by Scott Siegler- Audiobook Review (2024)

Okay, I admit it. I did Aliens: Phalanx dirty.

Years ago, in a pre-Covid time that felt like a lifetime ago, I picked up this audiobook and put it down after three chapters. I didn’t think it was a “bad book”, rather I was actually looking for a sci-fi horror and the book was more fantasy.

I wrote a short review about it and moved on. But evidently I couldn’t. I’m a member of the LV246 subreddit. This is a gathering place for serious Alien fans and this book is loved. This book is mentioned in every Aliens discussion so after years of enduring “zomg, this book is amazing!”, I decided to give it another listen. This time I sat through my discomfort. I put my issues aside and just let the story take me where it wanted to go as opposed to where I wanted to be taken.

I’m glad I did. This book is a certified banger.

The Story

The book opens with three “runners” in the middle of the woods. They move in silence. They are camouflaged from head to foot. While armed with spears, they are no match for the creatures who hunt them. Xenomorphs.

You see, their world is invested with Xenomorphs and they have no tools to fight the creatures. Life is short and fleeting. The last vestige of humanity lives underground while the Xenomorphs either kill them or bring prisoners to a place called Black Smoke Mountain where they are never seen again.

The story follows this group of runners. Ahiliyah is the leader. She’s smart and tactical, but lacks the strength and stamina to join the warrior caste. Brandun is a warrior in training. He’s strong and brave, but not very bright. Finally, there’s Creen who is smartest person in the hold but lacks all social skills. Worse yet, he’s a coward.

This small group travels overland to the various holds, trading supplies and passing information. Yet they discover the holds are being wiped out. One by one. There’s no way to defeat the “demons”. Yet, after an ambush, the small group makes a discovery that has the potential to change humanity for the better. Or potentially, the worse.

The World

Of all the alien books, this must have the richest lore building. Seigler creates all these different “holds” that contain the last embers of society. Each hold has its own customs, history, and most importantly, its own politics.

The Margrave, the leader of Ahiliyah’s hold is a political animal. Safe in the hold, he doesn’t think much of the Xenomorphs. Rather, he views the other holds with suspicion. Everything to him is a political calculus. That even includes taking in refuges.

On the other end of the spectrum is General Bishor. He was once a brave leader, but he is now disfigured and crippled form the Xenomorphs. He is a mentor to Ahiliyah, teaching her both strategy and tactics. Yet, he is an outcast from his own people due to his injuries.

There’s also the warrior caste, the runners, the rules of living, and the rules of dying. Siegler creates a world that feels alive and vibrant as our own. The downside is that the story is a slow burn. Yet, like Alien: Inferno’s Falls, once the story takes off running, it never stops until a surprising conclusion.

The Audiobook

The version I purchased was narrated by Bronson Pinchot. Like the book, he also is a slow burn. While I didn’t initially take to his reading, he provides a lot of unique voices in what turns about to be a large assortment of characters.

By the end of the book, I could easily distinguish the various characters. Especially Creen. He has this valley girl accent with lots of unconventional pauses, but the accent really grew on me over time.

Verdict:

4.5 aliens out of 5.0

Is this a good read? No, this is a great read.

It’s definitely up there in my top Alien books. I probably won’t read it again, but near the end of the book, I was hooked on every single word. Better still, I didn’t want it to end. I’m glad I went back to read it again. That said, I’ll keep the old review up for posterity.

By Brian Moakley

Brian Douglas Moakley is a writer and technologist who lives amongst the quiet hills in New England. When not reading tales of high adventure, he is often telling such stories to all who will listen.

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