|Aliens: Nightmare Asylum|
|Release date(s)||April 1, 1993|
|Cover by||Dave Dorman|
|Series||Aliens novel trilogy|
|Preceded by||Aliens: Earth Hive|
|Followed by||Aliens: The Female War|
Aliens: Nightmare Asylum, also known as Aliens Book 2: Nightmare Asylum, is a 1993 novelization of the comic book series of the same name, written by Steve Perry and published by Bantam Books. A sequel to Aliens: Earth Hive, the book follows Sergeant Wilks and Billie as they encounter General Spears, a psychotic Colonial Marine commander seeking to "train" an army of controllable Xenomorphs to help retake an Earth ravaged by Alien infestation.
Nightmare Asylum is the second novel in the original Aliens novel trilogy — much like the comic on which it is based, it is the second part of a three-part story arc, which began in Aliens: Earth Hive and is concluded in Aliens: The Female War.
DOOMSDAY IS HERE.
They shore up at a remote military outpost, prisoners of the crazed General Spears. His weapons production — Aliens. His plan: 'trained' Aliens to recapture earth.
The perfect killing machine — trained???
Aboard the automated cargo vessel The American, Sergeant Wilks, Billie and the damaged Bueller must come to terms with recent events following their hasty escape from an Earth overrun by the Xenomorphs. Billie also struggles with her feelings for Bueller, and the fact both he and Wilks lied to her regarding his android nature. Graphic visions convince Billie that there are Xenomorphs aboard The American with them, and after discovering several Aliens in the hold the survivors are forced to battle the creatures with only limited weaponry. After flushing the Xenomorphs out of the ship, Billie goes out onto the hull to finish them off.
Some time later, the The American's programmed destination is revealed to be a military installation on a small planetoid under the command of General Spears. Upon landing, Spears openly reveals to the new arrivals that he is attempting to train "tamed" Xenomorphs and turn them into a cohesive fighting force that he will then use to help retake Earth. He initially has Wilks, Billie and Bueller thrown into detention, but upon learning of their prior experience with the Xenomorphs, decides they may be of use and wines and dines them as he asks them to join his scheme. He explains that he has been carefully conditioning the Xenomorph Queen held captive at the facility, using the threat of the destruction of her precious Eggs to keep her under control. Through her, he is then able to command her offspring, bending them to his will. Wilks feigns interest and agrees to assist the General; in return, Spears agrees to repair the damaged Bueller, affixing his torso to a crude pair of mechanical legs so that he is once again ambulatory.
Now free to roam the installation, code-named Third Base, Wilks and Billie quickly discover that Spears is truly insane — he has sacrificed an entire nearby civilian colony to the Xenomorphs as part of his experimentation, readily uses his own Marines who fail him as human test subjects or hosts for the creatures, and is utterly obsessed with the glory he perceives his actions will bring him. Given Spears' unhinged behavior, Wilks has no trouble convincing the General's submissive but disgusted subordinate, Major Powell, to help lead a mutiny. While Spears is trapped away from the facility by poor weather, Wilks, Powell and the Marines supporting them launch their coup, successfully taking over Third Base and detaining all those loyal to Spears.
However, Spears leads a counter-attack, breaching the base via a blind spot in the facility's defenses only he was aware of. Once inside, he brazenly unleashes the Xenomorph test subjects on the occupants, while he and his men are rendered immune to their aggression thanks to his control over the Queen. The mutiny is crushed and Wilks, Billie and Powell are caught, although Bueller evades capture. By sabotaging the base's environmental systems, Bueller gives his friends a chance to escape before Spears can give them to the Xenomorphs.
With the complex now overrun by untrained Aliens, Spears accelerates his plans and prepares to abandon Third Base and head to Earth. The Queen and all the surviving trained Warriors are loaded onto the cargo ship MacArthur, while Spears takes control of a second vessel, the Jackson. Wilks and Billie also stow away aboard the MacArthur, although Powell is killed in a confrontation with Marines loyal to Spears. Billie is devastated when the MacArthur departs after Spears on automatic pilot, forcing them to leave Bueller behind at the infested base. Spears also abandons the rest of his loyal men and any other survivors on the planetoid, remotely sabotaging the engines on the remaining interstellar craft so they cannot escape. As the men's desperate pleas for help sound over the radio, Spears calmly enjoys a cigar and prepares for his victory on Earth.
As the MacArthur and the Jackson approach Earth, Wilks and Billie find themselves unable to defeat Spears and have to settle for simply fleeing with their lives in an escape shuttle. Undeterred, Spears lands on Earth with his Xenomorph force and orders the attack, but the Queen turns on him and tears off his head, revealing that she had simply been playing along the entire time. Wilks and Billie arrive at Gateway Station, now heavily overcrowded with refugees from a ravaged Earth. As they await debriefing in a conference room, they are interrupted by a mysteriously resurrected Ellen Ripley.
Behind the Scenes
In the Aliens comic on which the novel is based, released before Alien3 was made, Wilks and Billie were originally Hicks and Newt, respectively. Their identities were changed in the novel to keep the story consistent with events portrayed in the film series.
- Strangely, the cover art used on the first UK printing of the book was recycled (albeit flipped horizontally) from the comic Aliens: Genocide, specifically its first trade paperback re-release. As such, it features the Red Xenomorphs from that story, despite the fact no such creatures appear in the novel.
- There are several differences between the novel and the original comic:
- In the comic, Spears is killed by the Queen with a Headbite, with his flamethrower incinerating them both afterwards. In the novel, she instead tears his head off with her hands.
- Bueller is not repaired in the comic; he is simply connected to various diagnostic machines in his bisected state.
- In the comic, Spears "trains" the Queen by incinerating one of her Warrior brood every time they kill a civilian let loose in their tank. In the book, Spears threatens to destroy her Eggs instead.