Alien: River of Pain is a 2017 audio drama adaptation of the novel of the same name, directed and scripted by Dirk Maggs and starring Anna Friel, Philip Glenister, Colin Salmon and Alexander Siddig. It was published by Audible Studios on April 26, 2017, to coincide with Alien Day.

As well as its 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.

Publisher's Summary

Ellen Ripley finally returns to Earth, only to discover that LV-426 — where the crew of the Nostromo first came into contact with the deadly Xenomorphs — has been renamed Acheron.

Protected by Colonial Marines, the colonists seek to terraform the storm-swept planet against all the odds. But in the face of brutal living conditions and the daily struggles of a new world, there is humanity and hope. Anne and Russell Jorden — two colonists who are seeking a fortune that eluded them on Earth — are expecting their firstborn child.

The birth of Rebecca Jorden, known to her family as Newt, is a cause for celebration. But as the colony grows and expands, so, too, do the political struggles between a small detachment of Colonial Marines and the Weyland-Yutani scientists posted on Acheron. Willing to overlook their orders in order to serve the Company's interests, these scientists have another far more sinister agenda — to covertly capture a living Alien.

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 Russell find onboard proves to be the stuff not of dreams but of nightmares.

Voice Cast

Differences from the Novel

Compared the the rather straightforward audio drama adaptation of Alien: Out of the Shadows, the Alien: River of Pain drama differs notably from the book in many places. Most obviously, it includes several completely new scenes that do not appear at all in the novel. It also rearranges others so that the same events occur in a different order; for the sake of simplicity, only the most glaring rearrangements are listed here.

Perhaps the most subtle yet pervasive difference concerns the dates on which various events take place — beginning with Brackett's arrival and up to the survivors escaping Hadley's Hope, events at the colony generally occur two the three days later in the audio drama than they do in the original novel. At the same time, most of the scenes involving Ripley retain their dates from the book, meaning they now occur at different points relative to events on Acheron. For better clarity on this issue, a comparison chart elaborating on the date changes can be seen here

  • The scene where Ripley confronts Ash in the Nostromo's med bay that opens the novel has been removed. Instead, we hear Ripley's final transmission from Alien.
  • Simpson is present during the opening scene where Hansard and the other engineers struggle against the volatile seismic activity on Acheron. The audio drama also introduces an additional engineer named Welford, who states he had a brother who perished when his mining vessel was destroyed, clearly referring to the character Welford from Alien: Out of the Shadows. The fissure that puts a halt to work opens up inside the Atmosphere Processor, not nearby as in the book.
  • Hansard states that Acheron was given its name for marketing reasons, as a planet with a name is more appealing to potential colonists than one with a simple catalogue number.
  • In the novel, Russ muses that both he and his wife have been nicknaming their second child Newt from the early stages of her development, but in the audio drama Russ has no prior knowledge of the name until Anne calls her Newt immediately after her birth.
  • There is a short additional scene before the rec center opening ceremony where Tressa the pilot drops off three new arrivals at the colony (later revealed to be the three Weyland-Yutani scientists).
  • During the rec center party, Hansard tells Simpson that the main processor at the colony is now operational. Simpson suggests shutting the other processors down, but Hansard recommends they be kept active as a backup should anything happen to the main station. The scene is also considerably extended at the end; after Hansard and Simpson have spoken, the three Weyland-Yutani scientists arrive and introduce themselves. Simpson is immediately resistant to their presence, telling them that the colony cannot currently accommodate any additional residents, but Dr. Reese points out that the administrator has appropriated an entire block for himself — he suggests that the science team requisition the rooms, while Simpson can share beds with the colonists "until further habitation modules are made available". Simpson attempts to argue, but Reese points out he is contractually obligated to assist the science team.
  • There are notable differences with several of the characters — for instance, Dr. Mori is specifically said to be Japanese in the book, but his accent in the audio drama is clearly German. Yousseff is a Sergeant in the drama, yet in the novel she was merely a Private, while the opposite is true of Crowley, who is a Private in the drama yet was a Sergeant in the original book. Furthermore, Pettigrew has changed sex, from male in the novel to female in the audio drama.
  • In both the original novel and Aliens, the scene where Ripley wakes up on Gateway Station and first meets Burke is ultimately revealed to be part of a nightmare that ends with a Chestburster trying to burst from her body. In the audio drama, her meeting with Burke and the nightmare are separated into two separate events, two days apart, implying the former actually happened.
  • Another new scene at the colony begins with Newt and Timmy playing in a corridor. They are told off by Simpson, who then goes into his office to meet with the Weyland-Yutani scientists. The four discuss the imminent arrival of a new commanding officer for the Marine detail at the colony, and Reese in particular is very keen to learn more about him. Simpson shows him Brackett's file, at which point Anne enters to apologize for her children. In doing so she overhears Brackett's name and is shocked by the revelation — this is contrary to the novel, where she does not realize Brackett is coming to Acheron until after he has arrived. After she dismisses herself, the scientists and Simpson continue to discuss Brackett's arrival. Simpson reveals that in return for helping the science team with their assignments, the cooperative Marines have been receiving kickbacks. Concerned that Brackett might put an end to the arrangement, Dr. Hidalgo suggests they could work around him, while Reese is more direct and suggests they "find his weak spot".
  • Brackett arrives at Hadley's Hope on June 12, 2179, two days later than in the novel.
  • After they set down, Tressa gives Brackett a brief overview of the colony layout.
  • While Paris and Coughlin show Brackett around the colony, he hears movement in a ventilation shaft overhead, and Yousseff explains that it is the children playing. The scene then cuts to Newt, Timmy and Luisa inside the vent, where they are playing "monster maze", the game mentioned several times in Aliens and its various adaptations but never actually portrayed until now. The three children are fleeing from the "monster" (in fact Aaron, one of the other children, hunting for them) and Newt shows Luisa how to squeeze through one of the smaller ducts, something Timmy (and presumably Aaron) is too large to do.
  • Both Saida Warsi and Bluejay briefly appear during Brackett's initial tour of the colony. In the novel, they do not appear until much later, after the Xenomorph outbreak has started.
  • Brackett learns that Marines have been helping the science team — as well as loaning them Marine-issue equipment — while Paris and Coughlin are showing him around. In the book, he doesn't find out until after he has briefed his new unit.
  • In the book, Simpson tells Brackett about the men stranded in Processor 7 as they walk through the colony complex, finally arriving at the science block and meeting with Reese, Hidalgo and Mori. In the audio drama, the meeting takes place inside the operations center and the scientists are there from the beginning.
  • While the Marines are heading out to rescue Curtis and Otto Finch, there is an added scene where Ripley is discharged from hospital aboard Gateway Station. In it, Ripley's nurse questions her desire to leave, but Ripley insists that she wants to reunite and spend as much time as possible with her daughter (as she has not yet learned that she is dead). The nurse has her sign her release papers, Ripley noting with surprise that people are still using paper documents; the nurse responds that they are harder to forge. Finally, they discuss their mutual distrust of Burke, before the nurse informs Ripley of the board of inquiry she must face.
  • In the novel, Brackett questions Paris on what exactly the company is up to on Acheron, realizing the desolate world does not justify their considerable outlay, and Paris simply tells him, "It's Weyland-Yutani, Captain." The implication (confirmed later) is obviously that Weyland-Yutani expects to find something significant on the moon. In the audio drama, Paris goes further, outright stating the the company is hunting for evidence of alien life on the planet.
  • The Marine Nguyen who takes part in the rescue mission is replaced by another called Wynn in the drama.
  • When the Marines head into the malfunctioning processor, Brackett instructs only Crowley to stay behind in the crawler, thereby fixing a goof in the novel where Pettigrew also stays behind, yet is later inside the processor with the others.
  • The board of inquiry aboard Gateway is longer in the audio drama then in either the book or Aliens. To start with, Ripley narrates her final destruction of the Alien aboard the Narcissus, before the scene leads into where it begins in the film. A little later, one of the board members mentions the shuttle's computers being wiped partway through Ripley's hypersleep — a reference to the events of Alien: Out of the Shadows. When Van Leuwen states there is no evidence regarding the Alien recorded on the shuttle's black box recorder, Ripley suggests it must have been tampered with — this dialogue was notably contained within the novelization of Aliens, but not the film itself. Ripley goes on to suggest Weyland-Yutani actively search for the derelict on LV-426 before someone else stumbles upon it by accident. Finally, as she realizes the board will never believe her, Ripley concedes, "You think I'm a head case. You had your minds made up before I even came in here."
  • After Russ and Anne have their fight, there is another new/extended scene set in the Marine armory at the colony. Coughlin and Paris are demonstrating their standard issue weapon — the M41A MK2 Rifle — to Brackett, pointing out that it is a prototype and has been issued to the unit for field testing. After Coughlin is finished, Brackett and Paris arrange to have a beer together, and Paris informs him that Draper has been applying for potential transfers off of Acheron. Brackett dismisses them and has Draper and his cohorts shown in for their dressing down; while this meeting also takes place in the novel, it happens much later (after the Jordens have been sent to look for the derelict), and it is held in Brackett's office, not the armory. Unlike the novel, Nguyen and Yousseff are not present. During the meeting, Brackett instructs the insubordinate Marines that their days of going behind his back to the Weyland-Yutani staff and receiving kickbacks for their services are over; they are instead to report to him any attempts by company personnel to undermine him. He goes on to inform them that, rather than serving Weyland-Yutani, the Marines will be filling up their time with physical training and equipment drills. While in the book this meeting breaks up because Brackett learns of the Jordens being sent out alone, in the audio drama it comes to an end because Coughlin shows up with Newt, who has run away from her parents because of their fighting.
  • Burke's actual message directing Simpson to investigate the derelict is heard in the audio drama.
  • While Brackett is showing her back to her apartment, Newt briefly mentions that the colony's sub-basement flooded some time ago, thereby explaining why there is so much water in the passage from which she is taken in Aliens.
  • After Brackett drops Newt home, Draper and Stamovich are looking over their Pulse Rifles, commending the weapon's extreme lethality. They go on to discuss the possibility of someone accidentally killing bystanders with one during a training exercise, before Draper states threateningly that Brackett got in his way "and that ain't gonna happen twice."
  • Following this, Ripley is taking part in one of the monthly psychiatric evaluations to which she has been condemned (as mentioned by Van Leuwen earlier in the drama and in the extended Special Edition of Aliens). She recounts the events aboard the Nostromo, how Ash countermanded her orders and let the Alien on board, and how he was following company orders to preserve the creature. She admits she realizes the colonists will inevitably find the derelict and likely be subjected to the same nightmare as her. She also acknowledges that Weyland-Yutani will relish another chance to secure an Alien specimen, but ultimately concedes the doctor will never believe her, and asks him to simply sign her off as fit to work so she can get a job.
  • In the novel, Burke's message to investigate the derelict is received on June 19, 2179, but in the audio drama it does not arrive until June 22.
  • While celebrating the potential discovery implied by Burke's message, Reese suggests he and Mori raise a glass "to hope" in the novel. However, in the drama he proposes a darker toast, suggesting instead they drink "to those who gave their lives for this moment", implying he knows and freely admits the discovery on the moon may prove deadly.
  • Burke's message is only sent to Simpson, Reese and Mori, whereas in the novel Hidalgo also receives a copy. In the drama she finds out about it second-hand from Mori, a fact that aggravates her. From a story perspective, this serves to further the impression that Hidalgo is more human and sympathetic than her fellow scientists.
  • The novel recreates the scene from the Special Edition of Aliens where Simpson and Lydecker discuss Russ' question about his claim rights in the operations center. However, this does not happen in the audio drama. Instead, Simpson talks to Mina in operations and she gives him a rundown of some of the current ongoing issues at the colony. These include a jammed mechanism on the colony's transmitter array (possibly foreshadowing/explaining why no distress call has been received from the colony in Aliens) and a problem with the cattle in the colony's livestock pen.
  • This leads into a scene in the cattle pen, where Lydecker and Brackett inform Simpson some of the Marines have been cattle-tipping (mentioned in passing in the novel). When Brackett deduces the men were running an errand for Simpson when they committed the act, he asks the administrator who was responsible, but Simpson refuses to say. Brackett then finds a Marine rifle marksman badge on the floor.
  • Following this, Brackett addresses his Marines in their ready room and singles out Draper as the culprit for the incident in the cow pen, giving him back his marksman badge. Pettigrew attempts to take the fall for Draper but Brackett brushes her off. This scene replaces the one in the novel where Brackett confronts Draper and his disruptive Marines, which happened earlier in the drama. It is during this scene that Brackett learns about the Jordens being sent out alone.
  • As the drama lacks the scene where Simpson and Lydecker discuss Russ' claim rights in operations, the Jordens instead receive a radio call in their tractor giving them this information.
  • During the exploration of the derelict, Anne records an audio log (much like Sneddon in the Out of the Shadows audio drama) to describe the surroundings.
  • The Pilot's chamber is located downstairs in the derelict, whereas in the novel Russ and Anne return upstairs to find it.
  • The audio drama corrects another goof in the book whereby the Pilot and Egg chambers were erroneously merged into one location; instead of finding the Eggs near the Pilot's chair, Anne falls down a shaft that leads to the vessel's cargo hold, and Russ climbs down after her.
  • Instead of exercising, Brackett is typing up a report for his superiors on Earth when Paris enters his quarters to report that there has been no news from the Jordens.
  • John Marachuk is said to be among the men brought into the med lab with Facehuggers attached after Russ wakes up. In the novel, he is conspicuously never mentioned.
  • After the Chestburster emerges from Russ, it flees into the vents where Tim, Newt and Aaron are hiding, and they hear it moving around nearby. When they hear that it has moved away, they escape back into the corridor, Tim finding a shed skin along the way.
  • While searching the lower levels with Brackett and Fuqua, Bluejay goes to investigate sounds in a bathroom, producing an additional moment of tension when he fails to respond to Brackett's calls, only for the sound of a toilet flushing to break the tension, Bluejoy having just used it.
  • Coughlin runs into Yousseff on his way to the med lab, who tells him she is going to help Brackett search for the escaped Alien. Coughlin in turns tells her "the son of a bitch is taller than I am". They then meet the scientist who emerges from the lab containing the live Facehuggers, identified as Hayman in the drama. After confronting him, Yousseff promises Coughlin she will tell Brackett about what they have seen.
  • Mori and Hidalgo are taking blood samples from the comatose patients in the med lab when Coughlin arrives, instead of simply monitoring them. Hidalgo mentions that she has analyzed the blood and learned that the Facehuggers use some kind of neuromuscular toxin to paralyze their victims.
  • In the novel, there is a jump of 48 hours between Brackett and Draper killing the first adult Alien in the colony and two more of the creatures attacking the med lab, but in the drama these events happen on the same day, with the time jump occurring after the med lab attack.
  • The novel never actually states where Anne and the other colonists are moved to once the staff start grouping them together, but the audio drama reveals it is the dining hall. It also reveals what happens in the nightmare that Anne has when she awakes there — she recalls the moment Russ was attacked aboard the derelict.
  • Stamovich takes Reese, Mori and Fuqua to the science lab to gather their data. In the novel, only Reese is with him, while they meet Mori and Fuqua along the way.
  • In the novel, Reese and Mori have their discussion about evacuating the colony with their data while Stamovich is leading them to the lab — they simply send the others on ahead and lower their voices so that they cannot be overheard. However, in the drama they have this conversation inside their science lab, sending the others outside so that the discussion remains private. Before doing this, Reese and Mori also observe the live Facehugger specimens they have captured, while theorizing on the presence of an Egg-laying Queen at the colony. While this theorizing does occur in the book, it happens solely within Reese's head.
  • In the book, Newt becomes incredibly distressed when she wakes in the storage area to find her mother has left her, but in the audio drama she is much calmer about the situation, only becoming aggravated when she learns of Bronagh Flaherty's fate.
  • A brief added scene takes place during the supply run that Anne takes part in, mentioned in the book as the reason she is absent when Newt wakes up. In it, Anne, Derrick Russell, Nolan Cale and Genevieve Dione begin gathering food from one of the colony's storage areas. As the others collect tinned goods, Anne finally catches up with Brackett and tells him of her plan to escape the colony, a meeting that never actually takes place in the novel — in the book, Brackett goes to raid the Hive before she gets a chance to speak with him, and the two never meet again. While talking, Anne mentions her plan to escape aboard the Onager (something she never shares with anyone in the novel) but Brackett tells her the ship was "stripped for parts years ago, it's not even in one piece".
  • The long scene after Anne has returned to the storage area and reunited with her children contains several alterations and extensions. Following on from Newt's comparatively serene demeanor earlier, she greets her mother rather calmly, instead of angrily admonishing her for leaving as in the book. After this, Brackett quietly instructs Anne not to tell anyone else about her plans to escape. Later, when Brackett confirms his orders from Earth placing his Marines at the disposal of the Weyland-Yutani scientists, Simpson becomes angry and argumentative about being thus sidelined. In contrast, in the novel he raises no objections whatsoever and silently concedes that he is no longer in control. Finally, when Anne angrily accuses the scientists and Brackett of being more interested in "standing around and measuring [their] dicks" than actually taking charge, the book describes her as receiving a round of applause from the surrounding survivors, but in the drama her accusation is met with stunned silence.
  • When Hidalgo tells Reese and Mori she intends to join the raid on the Hive, she argues at length with her fellow scientists about their immoral practices in pursuit of studying the Xenomorph. When they continue to view their research as more important than the colonists, Hidalgo suggests they have a better chance of capturing a disoriented adult if the Hive is destroyed. Reese accepts, but bluntly tells her that he and Mori are prepared to make their escape and leave her behind if the situation becomes untenable.
  • In the book, Virgil attempts to blowtorch the Alien that smashes through the door he is welding shut, but the assault has no real effect on the creature and he dies when it knocks him down, the blowtorch cutting across his own body. In the audio drama, he actually kills the Alien with the torch, but he dies anyway when its acidic blood drenches him.
  • Another noteworthy new scene takes place on Gateway while Brackett and the others are making their way to the Hive. In it, Burke approaches Gorman to talk about the impending mission to Hadley's Hope. Before discussing anything, he has the Lieutenant sign a non-disclosure agreement, but once this is done, he openly tells Gorman all about the Xenomorph infestation at the colony, down to giving details on how the creatures reproduce using human hosts. This contradicts Aliens, which strongly implies Gorman had no more idea of the real situation than any of the other Marines. Burke goes on to ask Gorman for help in convincing Ripley to join the mission, and asks if Bishop can covertly ensure Ripley follows company orders and report back on her actions. Gorman points out the Hyperdyne Systems 341-B is not programmed for espionage, and if anyone challenged Bishop, he would be compelled to tell the truth about his secret orders. Burke suggests he have Bishop reprogrammed, but Gorman flatly refuses, insisting that if Burke wants an inside man on the mission, he will have to come along himself.
  • In the book, the Marines searching for the missing colonists within the atmosphere processor know precisely where they are in advance (from their PDTs) and head straight there, reaching them within 90 minutes. However, in the audio drama, Lydecker is unable to get a firm fix on their position and the Marines are forced to systematically search the processor level-by-level. As a result, they do not reach them until the following day, after they have already searched sub-levels one and two.
  • While riding down to sub-level three in the elevator, Hidalgo discusses the potential hive mind intelligence of the Xenomorphs. Brackett then lays out the plan — to liberate the colonists if possible, and to destroy the Hive if not.
  • The meeting between Burke and Gorman in Ripley's apartment happens before the colony is overrun. In the book, this meeting happens more than a week after the colony has fallen.
  • The ambush in the Hive features an extended build-up, during which the group discovers Dr. Komiskey cocooned alive to the wall overhead. When she begs to be killed, Sixto shoots her dead, and it is the sound of this gunshot that wakes the Xenomorphs.
  • Simpson asks Brackett to shoot him as he is dragged away. In the book, Brackett shoots him of his own volition.
  • Draper taunts Brackett as he abandons him in the Hive, telling him, "Song long, Captain Brackett. Got me a ship to catch."
  • Russell, Cale and Dione disappear more overtly in the drama and everyone immediately realises they're trying to take the Onager. In the novel, only Anne notices they have left and she never suspects where they might have gone.
  • Several Warriors pursue Brackett and Pettigrew up the elevator shaft as they escape the Hive, and the Marines fire back at them through slats in the floor of the elevator car.
  • Reese and Mori simply take a silver briefcase of research data with them when they try to flee in the novel, but in the drama Mori also has a sample of Egg tissue and Reese carries one of the live Facehuggers in its preservative jar.
  • When Fuqua's Chestburster begins to emerge, Reese suggests to Mori they try and capture the creature and take it with them. Before she dies, Mori coldly tells her, "Your service to the company will be rewarded. I'm certain they will look after any dependents you may have in gratitude for what you are about to do." Instead of mercy killing her, Reese waits until the Chestburster has ripped out of her body before killing it, realizing he has no safe way to contain it.
  • When the Xenomorph that takes Reese prepares to attack Mori, he drops the Facehugger jar and the creature within escapes. After the surviving Marines arrive and kill the Xenomorph, Mori pulls a gun on them, only to shoot the escaped Facehugger before it can attack, thereby helping to earn their trust.
  • Newt hears the escape ship leave without her while she hides in the vents.
  • In the book, Brackett considers how he will not offer Mori any pain relief medication when he dresses his gunshot wound. In the drama, Mori dresses his own wound, and it is his own choice to forego any kind of medication.
  • The dropship and initial sweep scenes from Aliens that are recreated in the novel are absent from the audio drama. Instead, the drama ends with Ripley catching Newt in the clubhouse and promising her she is safe now.



  • One of the board members at the inquiry aboard Gateway states the Narcissus' computer was wiped "approximately 27 years into [Ripley's] extended hypersleep", an obvious reference to the events of Alien: Out of the Shadows. However, Out of the Shadows was set in 2159, which was 37 years into Ripley's journey.
  • In the same scene, Ripley states the Alien wiped out her crew in just 12 hours. Not only does this contradict Aliens, it is contradicted later in the drama, when Ripley tells her psychiatrist it took the Alien 24 hours to kill her crew.
  • While exploring the derelict, Russ uses the label "xenomorph" to describe the dead Xenomorphs, yet not the dead Engineers. Given that he could not possibly know Weyland-Yutani's official Xenomorph XX121 designation for the former, he could only be using the word xenomorph in its most general sense, literally "alien form", for an otherwise unidentified alien creature, which would apply equally to both species.
  • Due to the rearranging of dates in the drama, the Marines do not discover the massacre in the med lab until two days after it occurs, which seems incredibly unlikely, especially as Hidalgo has been locked in the testing room alive for all of that time.
  • Brackett labels the pistol he hands Hidalgo a "9mm VP8". Given that he describes the gun as having a three-round burst function and an 18-round magazine, he actually means the VP78.
  • In the book, Simpson carries a portable scanner inside the Hive that shows the raiding party the location of the captured colonists inside the atmosphere processor. In the audio drama, this scanner seems to turn into a motion tracker partway through the scene, suddenly able to pick up moving Xenomorphs.

See Also

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