Saturday, September 11, 2010

Review: Fear the Alien Part I

So have you ever bit into something you expected to taste like chocolate but it tasted like strawberries instead? I mean, you like strawberries, and it tastes good, but you had your heart set on chocolate. That's how I feel about, "Fear the Alien."

For some reason I was expecting a book of stories written from the alien's point of view, and I was really excited about that. Now I don't know if I just made that up in my own head, or if I read somewhere that it was supposed to be all xenos.

It turns out that on 2 out of 10 stories were written from the xenos point of view. Now that being said, quite a few of these short stories are very, very good.
First up we have, "Gardens of Tycho," by Dan Abnett. This story was a mixed bag for me. I thought the writing and diologue were very tight. I thought that the characters were very intersting, and main character was well developed in just 42 pages. The plot however, left a bit to be desired, in my opinion. The story was essentially a murder mystery that I was totally drawn in to, but there was a twist at the end that in stead of leaving me saying, "whoa!" left me saying, "huh?" Now this was listed as, "A Magos Drusher Story," and I'm not sure if it was just a play on Harry Dresden, or if this means there will be more stories in the future, I hope its both, because I got the Dresden feel, and I'd like to read more.

The second story was "Fear Itself," by Juliet E. McKenna. This was a guard vs. tyranid story, and really good job of living up to the whole, "Fear the Alien" idea. It is the story of Catmos, an apparent sniper turn head surgeon of a small outpost on a world besieged by  The Great Devourer. The story centers around Catmos' unorthodox method of fending off Battle Shock, so that troopers that have seen horrific things will be able to stand their ground the next time the bugs attack. I really liked this story, and it was very pointient at times. McKenna did a good job of making me care about the characters, even the bastard of a commissar.

Next up is Prometheus Requiem by Nick Kyme. This, of course is a story about the Salamanders. I must admit, I am having trouble getting through "Salamander" and this makes this story a little hard to follow, that and all of the names of the Astartes that have apostrophes in their names. I just have a hard time figuring out who is who. This is the story about a Fire Drakes terminator squad going into a space hulk to finish an task that has been left undone for a century. They of course run into Genestealers, but it is the mind behind the 'stealers that is their true foe. Its not a bad story, but I'll have to come back again and read it after I finish Salamander.

The next story is the first one written solely from the alien point of view. It is a story of Dark Eldar Archon, Lord Malwrack, who is trying to woo a female, and let me tell you, Dark Eldar courtship rituals are pretty much exactly as you would expect. One of the things I dislike about Dark Eldar is the over the top fetishism that I have seen or perhaps perceived. This was absent in this story, and I think that made me like it more. I mean Malwrack is a crazy mother f'er, but the story isn't vulgar. I liked it. Perhaps because of the point of view.

The last story in this installment is "Iron Inferno" by C. L. Werner. This is my favorite story so far. It is told from dual perspective. One is an imperial guard commander prepping to fend off an Ork Waagh, and the other is an ork kaptain who is charged with probing the imperial defenses. There is comedy in this story that is just great for 40k. I really don't know what to say about this story other than I loved it. The setting, the descriptions, the Ork point of view was great, and the ending, whilst a bit predictable in my opinion was fine because I was waiting for the ending the whole story, and when it came about, I was clapping my hands in glee (yeah that's right, I said "glee").

So thats the first half of the book. I haven't finished the second half, but I wanted to post this before I forgot all the things I wanted to say about the first half.


  1. I too thought the stories were all going to be told from the aliens' point of view and was really excited about that. I'm a little surprised that it's only a fifth of the book. Nonetheless it sounds like a cool collection, thank you for the review of the stories you've read so far.

  2. Yeah I want everyone to know that the stories are all very well done. I'm just a little sad inside because I was looking forward to seeing all xenos all the time!