Aliens: Phalanx by Scott Siegler- Audiobook Review

Note: This is an old outdated review. I actually re-reviewed this book which you can find here.

I admit it. I’m a sucker for Aliens. Not the kind of aliens that travel to and from countries, but rather Aliens with a capital A that like to use people as living nurseries. Needless to say, I’m one of those people who buy Alien books. I’d call it a guilty pleasure, but there’s no guilt involved. I very much enjoy reading them. In fact, not too long ago, I reviewed Alien 3 by William Gibson.

Mind you, most of the books are mediocre at best. They often use the same tropes, quote the same dialogue from Aliens and pretty much tell the same story. So I walk into these books with low expectations.

Recently, I bought the audiobook version of Aliens: Phalanx. It was written by Scott Sigler, an award-winning author. It’s gotta be good, right? Riiiiiiiighhht?

Xenomorphs make for terrible dinner guests but make for awesome stories

Um, no.

I won’t say it was bad because I didn’t finish which is the equivalent of saying, “Her dance routine would have scored well had she not stepped on a landmine.”

It took three chapters and I called it quits. I’ve read most Alien books but this was the first one I stopped reading early. Like stone cold stopped.

Here’s the thing: when I read an Aliens book, I’m coming to it with expectations. I expect there to be Xenomorphs (duh!) and I expect the setting to be a sci-fi universe. I expect there to be survival horror elements as I expect some gunfighting. Not all of these have to happen but these are the standard tropes in the Aliens universe. You can also add evil corporations, scientists who play God, blah blah blah.

In Aliens: Phalanx, none of them happen. The book takes place in a medieval type of civilization where Xenomorphs hunt the population. Some people scavenge for food (and get hunted) while others take care of the home front.

The idea of a fantasy alien setting sounds good on paper …or does it?

The Xenomorphs are known as demons, but really, they act as generic monsters. Heck, you could replace the Xenomorphs with wolves and nothing would have changed.

I get the sense that Siegler was stripping the Aliens universe down and then trying to elevate it, but he created an Aliens book without the things that make it an Aliens book. It’s like casting a western inside a modern city wearing modern clothes. I’m not saying it’s impossible, it’s just really hard.

The other problem is the book is overwritten. Each sentence is polished to a maximum sheen. Long-winded passages make for drifting thoughts. I often found myself often thinking of to-do list items as opposed to paying attention to the story. Scott Siegler is a very talented writer. Unfortunately, his talent is wasted on this book.

After I stopped reading, I went over to Audible to read the reviews. The bad reviews are hilarious. “Ruined by Feminism”. Good grief. The first Alien movie can be seen as a treatise on rape and the follow-up was all about motherhood. There have always been strong themes of feminism running throughout the entire franchise. Did these idiots just get the memo?

If you were to sit down with some of these Morlocks and discuss the book, my guess is that the book didn’t have enough of the Aliens universe in it to keep them interested. Thus feminism probably seemed heavy-handed in what appeared to be a fantasy book where the Xenomorphs could be replaced with anything. But then again, I didn’t finish the book so I’m just guessing.

Rating (2 out of 5): ??
I did not like this book. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad book. It just wasn’t for me. Your mileage may vary.

Aliens: Phalanx at Amazon / Audible (affiliate link)

Aliens: Phalanx
Categories: , ,
Published: February 25, 2020
This is a book about Xenomorphs

By Brian Moakley

Brian 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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2 thoughts on “Aliens: Phalanx by Scott Siegler- Audiobook Review”

    Your review is like walking out of a movie and saying it sucks while watching the previews and opening credits….

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