In case you didn’t realize it yet, the media landscape of the Aliens and Predator series is vast. Sure, there are the movies, but there are also games and comics and toys and models and life-sized replicas and, yes, novels. Aliens vs. Predator: Prey is one of those novels.
Most of the early Aliens and Predator novel output consisted of novelizations of previously published comics. Prey is no exception. An adaptation of the original Aliens vs. Predator comic, Prey makes no pretense at trying to be a pathfinding original work. It’s the comic series in prose form and that’s all.
At some point in the distant future, sometime around the events of Aliens, there exists an offworld colony where the local herbivores (called rhynths) are raised for their meat. After a long few seasons, the colony is ready to ship its rhynths away to be processed in a giant space tug/slaughterhouse thing. Machiko Noguchi is the standoffish administrator of the colony and our eventual heroine.
What the people of the colony don’t know is that their planet has been used many times by the Predators as a hunting ground for the most dangerous prey, what they call the Hard Meat, the Aliens of the Alien pictures. They haven’t been back to the planet since the colony has been established, so when these two cultures unexpectedly collide things go haywire rather quickly. The Aliens infect the rhynth and spread aboard the spacecraft meant to take them off-planet. An Alien Queen establishes herself. Aliens begin to breed out of control.
The Predators, left without their experienced leadership due to an early mishap, start killing everything in sight, which puts the humans in a precarious position. Eventually Machiko takes charge of the situation and, with the help of one of the Predators, does her best to save the colonists who depend upon her while eradicating the Alien threat.
Whew. There’s even more going on in the book than that, but I’ve already spoiled you enough.
The original Aliens vs. Predator was an action comic, and suitably Prey is an action novel. We get the bare minimum of characterization necessary to set the whole, chaotic scenario in motion and then we get down to the bug huntin’. This is not a bad thing, by any means, and I was actually a little surprised at how much character stuff made it into the book, especially given how bare bones that aspect of it is in the comic.
What’s doubly surprising is the amount of depth Steve and Stephani Perry, the authors, go into with the Predators. You wouldn’t think there’d be much to say about a species whose culture revolves around hunting, but the Perrys take some time with their alien characters and give them at least as much personality as the humans. This is something the comic didn’t do. Granted, I did find some of the language stuff a little much; the Perrys decided somewhere along the line to create a language for their Predators and so often things are referred to in the made-up tongue. Sometimes explanations are given for the words and sometimes not. After a while I wished for straightforward English, but I suppose I can’t fault them for trying to do more with the characters they’d been given.
As I said at the outset, pretty much what you’re getting with Prey is an adaptation of the original miniseries. Yes, there’s the additional material with the Predators and, yes, we get a touch more of Machiko Noguchi, but in large part if you’ve read the comic you know the story. This is just the same tale told in a different medium, so if you’ve already read and enjoyed the comic, you have no real need to read this. Conversely, if you’re not into comics, but still want to read a good story, pick up a copy of the novel and enjoy.