Alien: River of Pain is a 2014 novel written by Christopher Golden and published by Titan Books. It chronicles the fall of Hadley's Hope on Acheron after colonists rediscover the derelict spacecraft on the moon. As the Xenomorphs begin to ravage the settlement, the surviving colonists and the small unit of Colonial Marines assigned to the moon to provide security must fight to stay alive.

As well as the standard print edition, an audio drama adaptation of the novel was released in 2017, read by an ensemble cast, directed by Dirk Maggs and published by Audible Studios.

River of Pain is the final novel in the 2014 Alien novel trilogy, which was designed to tie into the events of the existing film series. It was preceded by Alien: Out of the Shadows and Alien: Sea of Sorrows, although its plot has no direct connection to the two previous books and chronologically it takes place between them. It notably incorporates several sequences previously seen in the comic Aliens: Newt's Tale. It was released internationally on November 25, 2014.

Publisher's Summary

When Ellen Ripley finally returns to Earth, she learns that the planet LV-426 — now called Acheron — has been colonized. But LV-426 is where Ripley and the crew of the Nostromo found the original Xenomorph — the killing machine known as the Alien.

Protected by the Colonial Marines, the colonists seek to terraform the storm-swept planet. Two such residents are Anne and Russell Jorden, seeking a fortune that eluded them on Earth. On Acheron, Anne gives birth to the colony's first newborn, Rebecca Jorden, also known as Newt.

The wildcatters discover a vast, decaying spaceship. The horseshoe-shaped vessel is of particular interest to Weyland-Yutani, and may be the answer to their dreams. But what Anne and Russ find on board proves to be the stuff, not of dreams, but of nightmares.


Aboard the USCSS Nostromo, Ellen Ripley confronts Ash over his decision to allow Kane back aboard the ship despite the parasitic organism attached to him. Several years later, planetary engineers begin efforts to colonize LV-426, now known as Acheron, struggling against the moon's unstable geology. Despite their struggles, the process of converting the planetoid's atmosphere to a more stable one eventually gets underway, and the colony of Hadley's Hope is established. On March 15th, 2173, Hadley's Hope welcomes its first newborn in the form of Rebecca Jorden, an event celebrated by the entire populace.

Six years later, Colonial Marine Captain Brackett arrives on Acheron to take up his posting as commanding officer for the small security detail stationed there. His arrival sparks conflict between Rebecca Jorden's parents, Russ and Anne, on account of Anne's previous relationship with Brackett and Brackett's unresolved feelings for her. Brackett's posting is further complicated when he learns that Marines are being sent out on civilian prospecting missions, an act that he sees as contravening standard operating procedures. Before he can raise his concerns with colony administrator Al Simpson, one such prospecting expedition becomes stranded inside a malfunctioning Atmosphere Processor by a storm. Brackett organizes a rescue mission, discovering that one of the prospectors has suffered a serious mental breakdown, driven insane by the stress of harsh colony life and a paranoid fear of imminent disaster. The colonist is shot dead by Draper when he threatens another Marine's life, and the team evacuate moments before the malfunctioning processor destroys itself.

Back at Hadley's Hope, Brackett refuses to allow any more Marines to accompany civilian prospecting missions, a decision that brings him into conflict with the Weyland-Yutani research team stationed at the colony, headed by Dr. Reese. However, until clarification can be received from Brackett's superiors on Earth, they have no choice but to accept his orders. As such, when a message is received from Carter Burke detailing specific co-ordinates that are to be investigated, Russ and Anne Jorden are sent out without escort, electing to take their children Timmy and Rebecca — who has come to be known as Newt — along with them. They discover the derelict spacecraft that the Nostromo crew had stumbled upon fifty-seven years previously, and inside Russ is attacked and subdued by a Facehugger.

Russ is rushed back to the colony and placed under supervision in the medical bay, while Brackett quarantines the derelict and places several Marine guards there to prevent anyone else entering the ship. Even so, several members of an investigative team are also attacked by Facehuggers. Twenty-four hours later, the Chestburster inside Russ emerges, killing him, before escaping into the colony's ventilation system. A hunt for the creature is mounted, but the soon fully-grown Xenomorph begins killing and abducting colonists. The situation worsens when more of the creatures hatch from the other impregnated colonists.

The situation rapidly spirals out of control as more and more individuals are captured. The surviving colonists are grouped together in a single location for their own safety, with Marines to guard them. Brackett discovers that Reese and the other Weyland-Yutani scientists had anticipated an alien discovery on Acheron, and that this was in fact the reason the colony was established in the first place. He also deduces that the Xenomorphs are taking their live victims to a Hive where they are being as hosts for more creatures, and by tracking the mission colonists' PDTs the Hive is located inside the main Atmosphere Processor. Brackett, Simpson and a Weyland-Yutani scientist named Dr. Hidalgo lead a mission to exterminate the Xenomorphs, but the team is decimated by the creatures almost immediately. During the chaos, a dying Hidalgo reveals to Brackett that the science team, not knowing what exactly they might find on Acheron, hid a secret escape ship in the colony that can now be used to flee.

Meanwhile, several colonists elect to evacuate the area where they are hiding and move somewhere safer, Anne, Timmy and Newt among them. They make their stand in the operations center, but both groups are quickly overrun by the Xenomorphs. Anne and Timmy are killed, but Newt escapes into the colony's ventilation system. Brackett arrives too late, and while he saves a girl he initially believes to be Newt, he discovers to his dismay that it is in fact another young child named Luisa. With the Xenomorphs swarming all over the colony, Bracket takes Luisa and, with a fellow Marine named Paris, makes for the scientists' escape shuttle, encountering the last surviving member of the team, Dr. Mori, along the way. The survivors successfully flee the ravaged colony, with Brackett vowing to take the fight to Weyland-Yutani for what they have done.

Back at Gateway Station, Burke and Lieutenant Gorman visit Ellen Ripley to inform her of the loss of contact with Hadley's Hope.


The story was billed as a "new adventure featuring the Colonial Marines and leading directly into the second movie, Aliens", that would "reveal for the first time the fate of the colonists, of the Colonial Marines who accompanied them, and how there came to be one survivor: the girl known as Newt".[2]

Audio Drama

See: Alien: River of Pain (audio drama)


  • The novel recreates several scenes from Aliens and weaves them into the story. However, several of these sequences (chiefly the additional scenes added to the extended Special Edition of Aliens) do not accurately conform to what was seen in the movie, with differences in dialogue and the specifics of what happens. Several other scenes are recreated from the comic Aliens: Newt's Tale.
  • As well as scenes from Aliens, the novel also recreates several sequences from the comic series Aliens: Newt's Tale, including Newt witnessing her father's death from the ventilation duct, the ill-fated assault on the Hive, and the deaths of Anne and Timmy.
  • A reference to the comic series Fire and Stone was made when Anne assumed Cale, Dione, and Russell had slipped away to get to the Onager, an excavation vessel that some colonists of Hadley's Hope used as a makeshift escape vehicle to ferry themselves off planet when the colony was infested in Aliens: Fire and Stone.
  • As with the other two books in the trilogy, River of Pain's title has a musical link; it shares its name with a song on the album Behind Closed Doors (1995) by rock band Thunder, "River of Pain".
  • In Greek mythology, "River of Pain" is another name for Acheron, one of the rivers that flows through the underworld; in Dante's Inferno, it is said to form the border of Hell, and is the river across which Charon (the ferryman) transports the newly dead. The name Acheron is also given to the moon LV-426 by the time of Aliens, although this name is not mentioned in the film itself. Greek history and mythology are a recurring point of reference in the Alien franchise; other notable examples include the comics Aliens: Rogue and Aliens: Dead Orbit (which contain numerous references), the ships Archimedes and Anesidora, and references to the Titan Prometheus in both Prometheus Tech and the film Prometheus.
  • While discussing the Xenomorph attacks on the colony with Stamovich, Reese says, "Aside from the births of the newborn Aliens, their appearances have mostly come at night," to which Stamovich responds, "Mostly." This is an obvious reference to Newt's famous line, "They mostly come at night. Mostly."
  • During a later section in the book following the character Lieutenant Paris, the author refers to the M41A Pulse Rifle, the "MX4" body armor (presumably a misspelling of M4X, which was used in Aliens versus Predator: Extinction) and the VP78 Pistol (used in the 2010 video game Aliens vs. Predator). The latter two are possibly errors, however, as the VP78 was presumably not created or adopted until years after 2179, and issue 1 of the comic series Aliens: Fire and Stone shows two Marines from Hadley's Hope wearing standard M3 Pattern Personal Armor.

The image that was edited for the novel's cover.

  • As with Out of the Shadows, the artwork on the cover of the book was derived from an image created for the 2013 video game Aliens: Colonial Marines; in this case, the Xenomorph Warrior was lifted from a screenshot used to promote the game, then flipped horizontally.[3]
  • The events of the novel are obliquely referred to in Alien: The Weyland-Yutani Report, which mentions "Captain D. Brackett" by name.


See: Alien: Out of the Shadows trilogy goofs

See Also

External links


  1. " - Alien - River of Pain (Novel #3)". Retrieved on 2014-12-24.