Author Alan Dean Foster is one of the most recognizable names in science-fiction, and is responsible for not only his own catalog of engaging speculative fiction books, but also nearly all of the novelizations for the Star Wars saga, the Star Trek reboots, and, most notably, the Alien Anthology.
Filmmakers and studios know he's the go-to guy for provocative novels set in cinematic universes that provide an extra dimension to their films once it becomes time to translate to the page.
Having already written the official novelization for Ridley Scott's Alien: Covenant that was released last May, Foster's latest endeavor is a direct Covenant prequel novel titled Alien: Covenant - Origins, exploring the espionage and intrigue leading up to the big bon voyage party for the colony ship, Covenant.
Here's the detailed description from Titan Books:
As the colony ship Covenant prepares for launch, and the final members of the crew are chosen, a series of violent events reveal a conspiracy to sabotage the launch. Yet the perpetrators remain hidden behind a veil of secrecy. The threat reaches all the way up to Hideo Yutani—the head of the newly merged Weyland-Yutani Corporation—when his daughter is kidnapped. Is the conspiracy the product of corporate espionage, or is it something even more sinister?
While Captain Jacob Branson and his wife Daniels prepare the ship, Security chief Dan Lopé signs a key member of his team, and together they seek to stop the technologically advanced saboteurs before anyone else is killed, and the ship itself is destroyed in orbit.
Foster spoke with SYFY WIRE on the eve of his latest novel's release and offered his thoughts on the assignment and his further literary adventures within the Alien family:
"It’s always interesting working directly with a studio on a project, especially one that involves material that is essentially non-existent in the relevant film," Foster explained. "Filling in what previously did not exist entails more than a little responsibility, especially since some of it may become important to the pre-existing storyline somewhere down the road. So you have to be careful. Everything is vetted by the studio, even moreso than what one finds in the novelization of the actual film. In sense, when writing a prequel I actually have more responsibility yet simultaneously more freedom than in a novelization.
"At the same time, I can’t just write anything I’d like because it might contradict something that already exists in the story sequence, or more exist in future films. That leaves other areas to be explored, and other questions that can be raised, outside of the actual films themselves. That’s what readers will find in ALIEN: ORIGINS."
Enjoy this sneak peek at Alien: Covenant - Origins below and tell us if you'll get on board this Titan Books sci-fi tale when it drops into orbit Wednesday, September 26:
The question that kept him pursuing was: why had she bolted from the interview? Had she seen that his suspicions were aroused? Lopé’s interest was invariably piqued whenever someone shot at him. Usually his adversaries’ motivations were known, though. He badly wanted to know what was motivating Tadik.
He had a bad moment when he broke out on the second floor mezzanine and didn’t spot her. Fortunately, it was a spacious area and not especially crowded. Most visitors and workers were either on the office floors above or in the faux-marbled main atrium below. The haptic gold-toned banisters and swirled metal walls gleamed around him, polished to a high luster by silent, busy Weyland- Yutani drones. Scattered among the touch-responsive, flowing metal, organics stood out.
There she was, heading for one of the two wide, curving stairways that led down to the main floor. She was walking fast; not quite running, not wanting to draw attention to herself. While there was no sign of her plastic pistol, he doubted she had abandoned it. She was trying hard to blend into the crowd. Maybe she thought in the course of the stairwell descent she had outdistanced her pursuer. Maybe she thought that, having been shot at twice, he had given up the pursuit. Maybe she thought he had taken a wrong turn, or stopped to call for help.
If so, she didn’t know him very well. No individual became Chief of Security on a colony ship because they were prone to giving up.
Making use of oblivious workers to provide intermittent cover, he slowly made up the distance between himself and his quarry. Once, when she looked back to see if anyone was following her, he just managed to duck behind a pillar, concealing himself behind the curving screen that gave the supporting column the appearance of a silent cylindrical waterfall. As soon as her attention turned to the curving stairs that beckoned just in front of her, he slipped out again and resumed his stalk.
Unless she panicked and broke into a run at the last minute, he would catch up to her just before she reached the building’s Security station. There was no exit security, of course, but at that point he would be able to grab her while simultaneously identifying himself to the diligent personnel, and avail himself of their assistance.
No one gave him a second glance as he followed her down the sweeping stairway. It was wide and glistening and fashioned after a much smaller staircase in an ancient movie. He was maybe twenty feet behind her when she stepped off the last step and onto the main floor. Another few seconds and they would be near the main entrance to the tower. He felt confident he could grab and disarm her, even if she tried to pull a hidden weapon.
All his planning was interrupted as a commotion erupted off to his left.
Near the center of the main entrance, just beside the huge Weyland-Yutani symbol that was inlaid in the floor in marble and multi-colored industrial glass, two figures were grappling.
The woman was short and tanned, with wide eyes and full lips, while her adversary was lean and clad in the rumpled attire of a construction worker. His mien didn’t go with his clothing—he looked like someone who had spent fifteen years at university to no apparent benefit.
Lopé’s gaze widened slightly at the sight of the sonic impeller the man held. As an industrial tool, it wouldn’t be subject to the usual security checks. Using sound, the device could move and position large pieces of stone or metal. It could also, he knew as it went off with a reverberant crack, cleanly remove someone’s head from his neck.
He dove to the floor.
Despite the industrial-strength muffler that surrounded it, the impeller emitted a loud sonic burst when it went off. Providentially, the shaped circular burst missed everyone in the atrium as it blew a hole in the base of the transparent, four-story high exterior wall. The panic Lopé had feared ignited anyway as workers and visitors scattered screaming in all directions. To their credit, several members of the security team drew their weapons and started in the direction of the shooter. They were prevented from reaching him by the chaos that quickly enveloped the main floor.
Raising his head, Lopé saw that while she was more than holding her own, the woman was having some difficulty with the bigger man. Looking in the other direction, he saw the redhead join a number of escapees in utilizing the newly blown gap in the outer wall to flee to the presumed safety of the street outside. Just before she stepped through, she turned to look back at him.
Directly at him.
Their respective gazes locked for a second or two— just long enough for realization to hit. She’d taken her time not because she thought he’d give up the chase, but because she’d had backup waiting for her on the ground floor. She knew he was behind her.
He’d almost strolled into a wholly lethal ambush.
Rising, he rushed in the direction of the grappling pair. Far more important, he knew, to get the impeller out of the unknown man’s hands before it recharged and could be fired again. While a second burst might miss him, the main floor was still filled with bewildered innocents, including several families with kids in tow.
Seeing him coming, the man let go of the impeller to devote his full strength and attention to the woman who was all over him. Utilizing a judo maneuver, he tried to flip her over his right shoulder. She avoided his grip, dropped, and executed a double leg sweep that was as much a demonstration of gymnastic abilities as it was a martial arts move. Both of the man’s legs flew out from under him and he landed hard on the polished stone floor.
Rising, he looked askance at the oncoming Lopé. The sergeant was still a distance off, and there was time to escape. So he pulled a knife from its sheath inside his shirt, raised it high, and charged the woman who blocked his path to the elevators and stairwell.
The woman could have simply dodged out of his way. Instead, she stood her ground. Raising the knife high had been an instinctive move, but not a very professional one. As it descended toward her face she sliced her own forearm up into his, blocking the blow. Curling her hand around his wrist, she brought his arm up behind him and twisted.
He let out a gasp of pain.
“Drop it,” she growled, “or I’ll break your arm.” When he failed to comply she forced his arm up behind his back toward his shoulders. He winced, let out a groan, and the blade clattered to the stone floor.
It was enough to get her to relax slightly. Just enough for him to kick back and up with his right leg. His booted foot grazed her thigh as she just managed to slip to one side. At the same time she took his other leg out from under him. Plunging forward, he did an awkward face plant on the mosaic floor. Blood from his broken nose and forehead splattered like yolk from a dropped egg.
“Stay like that.” Her voice was calm but commanding. “Don’t move.”
He didn’t. By the time the panting sergeant reached him, blood had fanned out from his face and the front of his skull where they had met the unyielding faux-marble.
Lopé flashed his identification as three security guards drew close, weapons drawn, their attention divided between him and the slightly twitching, bleeding figure on the floor.
“Call tower medical, get a team down here,” Lopé said. Tight-lipped, the sergeant regarded his would-be assassin. “We need to try and save this guy. Need to find out who he is, where he came, who sent him.” His gaze rose to the hole in the outer wall that was still filled with anxious visitors filing through onto the street outside. There was no sign of the tall redhead with the split do.
One of the security personnel immediately got on her comm unit. Meanwhile Lopé took the time to study the prone assailant a bit longer. He shook his head, then rose and strode over to the center of the floor where a dark-haired young woman stood breathing hard and watching his approach.
He halted before her. “My name is Carl Lopé. There’s a good chance you just saved my life. Why?” She didn’t appear to be injured, he noted gratefully.
She shrugged. “Does it matter?”
“It does to me,” he replied briskly. “Call it professional interest.”
She looked up at him. “Okay. I don’t like people getting killed in front of me. It offends my sense of common decency. So I saw the guy with the weapon, and did what I believe to be my civic duty. You okay?”
Lowering her gaze, she peered past him. “Why’d he want to kill you, anyway?”
He considered. “I haven’t the slightest idea. Which is why I hope he lives.” He looked past her. Moving fast, a medical team emerged from a distant service lift, guiding a powered gurney between them. “It’s damn frustrating, too.” He returned his attention to his unexpected savior. “There’s no reward for saving my life, but it’s near midday. If you’ll allow me, I’d be happy to treat you to a very expensive lunch.”
She shook her head no.
“Much as I could do with a nice meal, I’ve got to decline.” Looking to her right, she indicated the bank of lifts. “I’ve got a job interview in half an hour—one that I don’t want to miss.”
He studied her reply for a moment, reflecting on what he had just seen her do. “That wouldn’t by any chance be for a position on the Weyland-Yutani Covenant, would it?”
Suddenly wary, she searched his face. “Why? What’s it to you?”
“I’m Sergeant Carl Lopé. I’m chief of Security on the Covenant.”
She considered him. “So you’re the one who’s supposed to interview me?”
He sighed heavily. “No more interviews, thank goodness. The position’s already been filled.”
She looked downcast. “Damn. I guess I showed up too late.”
“No.” His expression didn’t change. “You showed up just in time. What’s your name—Private?”
It took her a moment to catch on. Then she nodded slowly, suppressing a grin.
“Rosenthal. Sarah Rosenthal.”
“Welcome to the Covenant security team, Sara Rosenthal.”