Aliens: Colonial Marines Technical Manual is a 1996 fictional technical guide to the United States Colonial Marine Corps, as featured in the feature film Aliens, written by Lee Brimmicombe-Wood, edited by David Hughes and published by HarperPrism. A revised issue was published by Titan Books in 2012.
The manual is divided into two sections, the first of which discusses the Colonial Marines and their structure, equipment and armaments, often accompanied by quotes from various Colonial Marine personnel. The manual describes the equipment of the Colonial Marines in great detail, and contains expansive descriptions of the UD-4L Cheyenne Dropship and the Conestoga-class transport starship (such as the USS Sulaco), both of which appeared in Aliens. While staying faithful to the film, the manual also expands upon a number of topics not depicted in the film, including the heavy weaponry, artillery and armor support available to the USCM.
The opening section also includes a brief history of human, colonial and military developments of the 22nd century, which subsequently serves as one of the most in-depth sources of information on the Aliens universe and its history up to the point of the Alien film series. The manual contains information about the organisation of the Colonial Marines, again staying faithful to the films while adding and expanding information.
The second section of the manual consists of a series of message transcripts between Weyland-Yutani Corporation personnel regarding the events of Alien and Aliens. In particular, the transcripts discuss theories on Xenomorph biology and how the species may be exploited for monetary and military gain.
The Colonial Marines Technical Manual had its origins in the pages of the Technical Readout section of the UK Aliens magazine produced by Dark Horse Comics in the 1990s. The section was written and illustrated by Brimmicombe-Wood. His business partner and future editor of the manual, David Hughes, was the magazine's other regular contributor of articles and reviews.
Numerous photos and illustrations for the manual were produced with use of actual movie props from the film's armorers, and from the licensed Alien War live-action ride in London at the time. They were modelled by one of the actors who portrayed a Marine at the ride. Other material was provided by 20th Century Fox, including illustrations by production designer Syd Mead.
20th Century Fox limited the scope of the book to focus on only the second film Aliens, but since Aliens itself refers to the first Alien film, they allowed a number of references and background information regarding the Alien plot to be included, as well. Material dealing with the then-unproduced third and fourth films was left out.