‘Sea of Sorrows’ is the newest canonical Alien drama, a sequel to ‘Out of the Shadows.’ These audio dramas started life as novels by James A Moore and Tim Lebbon respectively. They gently skirt the issue of Alien 3, with Out of the Shadows occurring after the events of the movie original ‘Alien,’ and ‘Out of the Shadows’ occurring decades after the events of ‘Aliens.’ Bridging the gap, we had ‘River of Pain,’ a novel / audio drama that was a direct prequel leading up the events of ‘Aliens.’
This production is another atmospheric, pacy audio drama that Dirk Maggs is making an name for on Audible, with his X Files and Alien dramas. Great production values, writing and acting are pulling one win out of the bag after another.
In this tale, Alan Decker, a descendant of one Ellen Ripley, is kidnapped by Stockard Channing’s scenery chewing company hard case Andrea Rollins, and sent to advise a team of Mercenaries on their expedition to planetary mining outpost ‘New Galveston,’ scene of the Alien infestation of ‘Out of the Shadows.’ Decker is an empath, or telepath, it transpires, with an uncomfortable ability to get on the Xenomorph’s wavelength. But as Ripley’s ancestor, they know who he is, and their cold hatred and desire for revenge awaits…
And here lies the main weakness of this tale. The Alien’s are meant to emotionless, only fuelled by a desire to kill and survive. Here they display a full range of negative emotions, as well as telepathic ability. It really stretches the Alien lore to breaking point.
The Mercenaries too are indistinguishable from the Marines of other Alien tales, and their personalities feel a bit too off the Marine conveyor belt. That said, there are some memorable characters here, such as ‘Silent Dave’ and a few Brits to add to the diversity.
And the tale ends a little too open for the sequel, and does not close events satisfactorily, for me.
All that said, this is still gripping stuff, that hits enough of the right notes to keep you on board and engrossed. There are enough Queens, soldier aliens, chest bursters, face huggers, ambushers and fire-fights to keep events barrelling along in a fun way. And the sound production is right on the money, with the face-huggers smothering its victim sounding uncomfortably close.
And John Chancer’s Alan Decker is a pleasingly complex character and likeable presence.
Not as tense and complete a drama as ‘River of Pain,’ this is nevertheless another recommended listen from the Maggs production stable.