Alien- River of Pain Cover V2
Alien: River of Pain
Author(s) Christopher Golden
Publisher Titan Books
Release date(s) November 25, 2014[1]
Media type Mass-market paperback
Pages 352[1]
Cover by
  • 1781162727


  • 978-1781162729
Preceded by Alien: Sea of Sorrows
Followed by Alien: Invasion
Alternate cover
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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, in 2017 the novel has been released as an audio drama, read by an ensemble cast, directed by Dirk Maggs and published by Audible Studios. It was released on April 26, 2017, as part of Alien Day.

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 earlier books and chronologically 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 organises 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

River of Pain audiobook

Alien: River of Pain audiobook.

Following the success of their audio drama version of Alien: Out of the Shadows, released in 2016, Audible Studios released an audio drama version of River of Pain in 2017, directed by Dirk Maggs and starring Anna Friel, Philip Glenister, Colin Salmon (who played Stafford in Alien vs. Predator) and Alexander Siddig. The audio drama runs for 5 hours and, like it's predecessor, it was released on April 26, to coincide with Alien Day 2017.

As well as the original voice cast, actors William Hope (Gorman), Mac McDonald (Simpson), Stuart Milligan (Jernigan) and Alibe Parsons (med tech) all reprised their roles from Aliens for the production, although Hope was not credited.

Voice cast

  • Sgt. Yousseff .... Tracy Wiles
  • Sgt. Coughlin .... Ben Crowe
  • Cpl. Pettigrew .... Karen Bartke
  • Hauer .... Dominic Hecht
  • Chenovski .... Andy Secombe
  • Sixto .... Jeremy Stockwell
  • Pvt. Crowley .... Toby Longworth
  • Brad Lydecker .... Eric Myers
  • Khati Fuqua .... Emily Stride
  • Hansard .... William Brand
  • Carter Burke .... Tom Alexander
  • Joel .... Wayne Forrester
  • Tressa .... Samantha Beart
  • Hayman .... Teo Maggs
  • Najit .... Saga Aria
  • Stefan .... William Dufris
  • Neela .... Amber Arga
  • Brona .... Anette Holland
  • Otto Finch .... Barnaby Edwards
  • Curtis Finch .... Dan Starky

Differences from the novel

  • Newt was given her nickname by her mother and immediately after her birth.
  • Acheron was named as such for marketing reasons according to a conversation in the prologue.
  • Ripley expresses surprise that paper forms are still being used, indication that in that time period, most documents are digital.
  • Ripley shown to distrust Burke from the start and expresses displeasure that Burke is charged with looking after her and getting her an apartment on Gateway.
  • Ripley reveals that the events of Alien after Kane's death was around 12 hours.
    • This is contradicted later in the story where it stated as 24 hours post Kane's death.
  • Despite having no memory of the events in Out of the Shadows, Ripley refers to the parasite as a Facehugger which was officially dubbed as such by Weyland-Yutani and one of the survivors of the Marion in Out of the Shadows.
    • Later one of the scientists/doctors also calls them Facehuggers without explanation of why she calls by that term.
  • When Anne and Russ find the bodies of the Xenomorphs, Anne logs it in and when trying to describe it, Russ calls it a Xenomorph.
  • Marachuk was Facehugged at the derelict rather than being ambushed at the colony, he was with the survey team that investigated after Russ was attacked.
  • Lt Gorman is aware of the Xenomorphs before arriving LV-426 and indeed before being briefed by Ripley, In the movie the Colonial Marines only investigate a possible threat with the Xenomorph presence not be certain from the Marine's perspective, here Gorman is told about the details of the colonist's fate and the situation by Burke.


  • 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. In fact, several of these sequences in fact conform to how they were presented in 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.
  • 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.


See: Alien: Out of the Shadows trilogy goofs

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 " - Alien - River of Pain (Novel #3)". Retrieved on 2014-12-24.