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Could the “Aliens” franchise find new life as an audio series?

Few franchises are in a more interesting spot right now than Aliens. Besides being potentially caught up in the Fox to Disney purchase, the series has been moving away from its roots. Alien and Aliens are classics, though Alien 3 is at best a mixed bag, with Alien: Resurrection a decided step down. Since then, we’ve seen two Alien vs Predator crossovers (both terrible), two Ridley Scott helmed prequels in the decent Prometheus and the underwhelming Alien: Covenant, as well as an aborted Alien effort from Neill Blomkamp that appeared to want to right the ship. With that sort of uncertainty about what a movie in this canon actually is, other efforts are being made to keep the brand relevant. Below the radar, Audible has been adapting canonical novels into radio series, and they’ve been getting the xenomporphs right too.

The latest release, via Audible, is Alien: Sea of Sorrow, the third installment in the original series that the platform is putting out. They’ve previously been set between the times of the first two Aliens films, making for an interesting fill in the blank situation. This is how Audible describes it: “Set 300 years after the events of Alien: Out of the Shadows and Alien: River of Pain, Alien: Sea of Sorrows deals with the rediscovery of dormant Xenomorphs (Aliens) in the abandoned mines of LV-178, the planetoid from Alien: Out of the Shadows, which has now been terraformed and renamed New Galveston. The Weyland-Yutani Corporation, reformed after the collapse of the United Systems Military, continue their unceasing efforts to weaponise the creatures, eliciting the help of Alan Decker, who is forced to join a team of mercenaries sent to investigate an ancient excavation lurking deep beneath the planet’s toxic desert, dubbed the Sea of Sorrows. Somewhere in that long-forgotten dig lies the thing the company wants most in the universe – a living Xenomorph. Decker doesn’t understand why the company needs him until his genetic heritage comes back to haunt him. Centuries ago one of his ancestors fought the Aliens, launching a bloody vendetta that was never satisfied. That was when the creatures swore revenge on his forbear, ‘the Destroyer’, Ellen Ripley…and all her descendants.” Essentially, it’s the sort of story we’d rather have seen (or in this case heard), instead of what Alien 3, Alien: Resurrection, and so on, gave us.

These radio plays, as they were, are a lot of fun. Especially if you listen in the dark, there’s a tense quality to them. Alien: Sea of Sorrows is the best one yet, suggesting a ton of potential for these to grow and really make use of the franchise in a new and exciting way. They’ve been coming out each year in late April (April 26th, to be precise, which is Alien Day, considering the date works out to be 4/26, like the planet LV-426), so this is almost like a new Alien related tradition. Going forward, if the next installments are as good as Sea of Sorrows, we’re in for a treat.

Honestly, this franchise will always have a place in pop culture. Going forward, the brand may very well need to approach its films in a whole new way. As it does that, these radio plays, as they are, fill a wonderful gap. We’ll see if new movies come out in the near future, either Scott directed or not, but for now, these are here and really entertain. It may seem old fashioned to think that audio is the future, but when they’re this well done, it could be the case. If nothing else, they’re fun in a retro sort of way. If you’re curious, you’d do well to give these a shot…

Be sure to check out Alien: Sea of Sorrows, available now on Audible!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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