predator

Exclusive: James A. Moore on his vicious new The Predator prequel novel, Hunters and Hunted

Contributed by
Aug 1, 2018

With director Shane Black's The Predator having its release dates shuffled around by 20th Century Fox after a round of required reshoots, we're now looking at a September 14 premiere of this highly anticipated Predator reboot starring Boyd Holbrook, Trevante Rhodes, Jacob Tremblay, Jake Busey, Keegan-Michael Key, and Olivia Munn.

To prime viewers for the inevitable carnage to come, Titan Books just released an official tie-in prequel novel titled The Predator: Hunters and Hunted, by best-selling author James A. Moore (Alien: Sea of Sorrows, Aliens: Bug Hunt). Invading bookstores and online retailers on Tuesday, July 31, this intense companion book sets the stage for The Reapers, Project Stargazer's imposing anti-alien commandos out to snare themselves a wicked Yautja Prime warrior.

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In Titan's official description, the set-up storyline follows the events of the second Predator film from 1990, and examines a present-day Earth where our fragile planet has been visited by warlike alien creatures that stalk and kill mankind’s best-of-the-best warriors, leaving no trace other than a bloody trail of skinless bodies.

Hardened Vietnam veteran Roger Elliott encountered this exotic creature during his combat time in the jungle, and didn’t expect to survive. Now in charge of The Reapers, he commands and trains a clandestine strike force attached to Project Stargazer, the secret government organization whose roots were seen in Predator 2's Other World Lifeform Task Force (O.W.L.F.). Their perilous mission is to prove the extraterrestrial assassin's existence, and reverse-engineer its otherworldly weapons tech to even out the odds on the battlefield.

It's been a while since the literary world ventured into the steamy side of the sci-fi franchise, with the last entry being 2008's Predator: South China Sea by Jeff VanderMeer (Annihilation). The Predator: Hunters and Hunted acts as a potent opening act to set the stage for September's highly anticipated feature while also expanding the canon in gruesome detail.

SYFY WIRE spoke to Moore about how this prequel novel dovetails into Shane Black's The Predator, working with Black and screenwriter Fred Dekker, the evolution of Project Stargazer, matching his original outline to the movie's vision, and whether an Alien xenomorph would lose in a smackdown with a Predator warrior.

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How did this The Predator prequel project for Titan come about?

James A. Moore: Titan managed to get the rights to the movie, and Steve Saffel, my editor at Titan, came up with the notion of doing a prequel (credit where it’s due, Steve is a sharp man). When he contacted me we discussed the idea of doing a prequel that leads almost directly into the movie and that certainly establishes where Stargazer is in the movie, and bounced ideas around for a while. Before it was all said and done, a few people at Fox and Fred Dekker, who worked with Shane Black on the script, joined in, and we started working out the details of what they’d like to see incorporated as well. It was a lot of fun and gave me a chance to learn a lot of what was going through Shane and Fred’s thoughts as the storyline evolved.

Where does the plot align with Shane Black's upcoming Predator film, and what can readers expect from the storyline?

JAM: So this is a prequel in a very real sense, and it offers insight into how the government group in Predator 2 evolved into Project: Stargazer. There are very direct connections in this case. It also shows how the Stargazer group got the evidence that they have of Predators.

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What are your associations with the Predator movies and memories of first seeing the original?

JAM: The first I heard of Predator was back when I was a few years out of high school and seriously looking at being a writer or a comic illustrator (oddly, they insist that you be able to draw before you illustrate comics, so that went out the window). A few years earlier, 1980 I believe, I had seen a truly horrid movie about an alien that ran around hunting people for sport. It was called Without Warning and it was horrible: bad special effects, virtually no plot, and a big-headed blue alien in robes running around and throwing living ninja stars at people. I mean, I only saw it the once, and it was so bad I still get annoyed when I think about it.

When I heard about the Predator movie I was cringing, expecting the same sort of nonsense. Instead, I got a truly intense movie about an alien that actually HUNTS, instead of walking around and occasionally throwing discs with teeth. It was the difference between being told a bad campfire story and watching a movie designed to draw you in and give you shivers.

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What were the research materials given to you for Predator's canon, and did you have any restrictions or parameters?

JAM: I was given the chance to read the script for The Predator and then the revised version of the same. Which was a blast, and eye-opening in a lot of ways. I have to say both scripts were fun, but the second version was substantially better for me.

After that I was on a conference call with Fox, Fred Dekker, and Steve at Titan for a couple of hours, and we discussed the detailed outline I’d written and went over it scene by scene to see if anything could be added or taken away if it didn’t quite match the vision for what the movie was about. It was a really, really interesting discussion. It was also cool to see what is being considered for the future, but no more about that.

What are the differences between writing a Predator in-universe novel versus an Alien tie-in book?

JAM: What are the differences between bananas and coconuts?

There was a lot more freedom on Alien: Sea of Sorrows, and it was a much larger scope, but it was a true blast working on Predator: Hunters and Hunted for entirely different reasons. I had a blast in both cases trying to see the world through the eyes of the aliens, but in the case of the xenomorphs, they are so far removed from human that it was a challenge to make them capable of rational thought. The Predator is closer to human in a lot of ways, including the notion of hunting for sport. In both cases, it was a blast.

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What is it about the Predator franchise creatures that holds so much fascination and fear for fans of the video games, novels, comics, and feature films?

JAM: Well, at the end of the day, we, humans, are used to being the apex predator, the top of the food chain. The only things we genuinely have to fear in most circumstances are Mother Nature or the occasional human who has gone off the rails.

The thought that something out there is better prepared, and just as importantly, would treat us the way we treat all of the creatures on this planet that we hunt, is deeply unsettling. They do not catch and release. They do not hunt us for sustenance. They hunt us for sport. Add in the fact that they look like 7 feet of bad attitude with fangs, and you’ve got a winner.

Alien Xenomorph vs. Predator Hunter in a battle to the death? Who wins?

JAM: One on one? The Predator. Maybe a proper warrior-sized xenomorph, but in most cases the Predator is better equipped and physically as strong. Also, the Predator is smart enough to learn to avoid that corrosive blood!