Book Review: ‘The Book of Alien’ and ‘Aliens: Colonial Marines Technical Manual’ (re-releases)

Alien-Sketch

In honor of the release of Prometheus, Titan Books has re-printed two Alien franchise books which have long been out of print. I was lucky enough to be able to review them.

book-of-alienThe Book of Alien
The Book of Alien by Paul Scanlon and Michael Gross seems to be more of a “art of” book, as it is predominantly full of pre-production artwork. A lot of what is here is familiar to most Alien fans but hopefully there’s a tidbit or two that you’ll discover (or re-discover) that you didn’t know. I for one was unaware that the late Jean “Mœbius” Giraud contributed pre-production art. He was only involved in the production for a short time but some of his concepts survived to be seen in the finished film.

Since this book was originally published in the late 70′s it’s not quite as polished as some people are used to, but don’t let that scare you off. There are a lot of great pieces of production art on display here as well as over a dozen solid pages of text covering many aspects of the production. Unfortunately, I feel that this book falls a bit short of being the definitive book on the making of Alien. I know somewhere out there, a great big coffee table book covering the entire Alien franchise is waiting to be made, hopefully sooner rather than later.

Aliens-Colonial-Marines-Technical-Manual-CoverAliens – Colonial Marines Technical Manual
I’ll be honest right up front. Aliens – Colonial Marines Technical Manual by Lee Brimmicombe-Wood was not the book for me. I’m a huge fan of the Alien franchise as a whole, but I’m much more interested in the behind the scenes sort of stuff. However, if you watched Aliens and thought “wow, I want to know everything there is to know about the USCMC and their equipment” then this is the book for you.

Jammed packed with extremely detailed articles covering weaponry, tanks, ships, armour, spacesuits, and more, this book is a sci-fi technophile’s dream. Almost every question you ever thought to ask about weaponry or equipment is covered in this book. Have you ever wondered what materials make up the M3 Armour Vest the Marine’s wear? It’s in here. Have you ever wanted detailed descriptions of every piece of ordinance carried by the UD-4L Dropship? It’s in here. Have you ever wondered what the maximum generating output of the USS Sulaco’s Westingland A-59 fusion reactor is? It’s in here. Have you ever…well, you get the idea.

Ron_Cobb_Alien_concept_art

The book includes a lot of simple ink illustrations as well as photographs and paintings to fully immerse you in this detailed world. There is also a lot of commentary from fictional marines describing the weapons and equipment in question which really adds to the experience. It’s almost as if this book is actually sitting on some shelf in the Alien universe.

So for me, this book was just something I couldn’t fully get into. However if you enjoy military sci-fi technical jargon you’ll probably love this.

The Book of Alien
Author: Paul Scanlon (Author), Michael Gross (Illustrator)
Paperback: 112 pages
Publisher: Titan Books (May 29, 2012)

But it Today! @  Amazon.comAmazon.ca

Aliens – Colonial Marines Technical Manual
Author: lee Brimmicombe-Wood
Paperback: 159 pages
Publisher: Titan Books (May 29, 2012)

But it Today! @ Amazon.comAmazon.ca

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