Predator: Forever Midnight is a 2006 novel written by John Shirley and published by DH Press. In it, the inhabitants of the distant colony world Midnight discover the planet they have settled is in fact an ancient Predator hunting ground, and when the Predators return, both the colonists and the United Nations soldiers sent to protect them find themselves locked in a desperate fight for survival.
Forever Midnight is the first novel in the Predator franchise not to be an adaptation of a comic book. All subsequent novels would similarly be original stories rather than adaptations.
THE HUNT IS ON AGAIN!
The year is 2117 A.D. Humanity has seized the stars, using reverse-engineered alien technology to explore the far reaches of space. For a hundred years the Predators, sadistic extraterrestrial hunters, have been a dim memory. For a hundred years, we've been safe.
That ends now.
Cast in daylight for years at a time, the almost eternally lit jungle planet known as Midnight is the home to more than a thousand colonists, explorers building a haven on a new world. But the settlers aren't alone. The Predators have been on this planet all along. When the ravenous creatures attack an arriving spacecraft and capture the settlers as both slaves and prey for their hunt, terraforming the planet takes a back seat to a new fight for survival.
In 1804, the crew of the East India Company trading vessel Patrick O. are abducted from Earth and transported to a distant planet, where they are preyed upon both by the planet's own bizarre flora and fauna and the Predators who kidnapped them. With their numbers dwindling, their leader Lucius Broagham states his determination to find a safe place to hide so that they might plot their revenge.
More than 300 years later, Commander Randall Ness and his team of UNISC troopers are headed for the planet Midnight, where they are to provide security for the growing human colony. Upon reaching Midnight's system, their vessel Lazy Eye is suddenly attacked by Predators, several of whom board the ship and begin massacring its crew. Realizing they are outnumbered and outgunned, Ness and his few surviving troopers jettison the ship's bridge section in an attempt to escape, but it is damaged by a Predator bomb and crash lands on Midnight several thousand miles from the only human settlement. Picking themselves from the wreckage, Ness explains to his men that he previously received a briefing on the Predators, and believes they will continue to hunt them on the surface.
At the human colony, the inhabitants — among them Ness' estranged wife Elana and their son Derry — are called together by the administrator and informed of the loss of the Lazy Eye and the involvement of the Predators. The survivors grimly deduce that the creatures are likely to attack them as well. They manage to briefly contact Ness, but a Predator EMP disables all of the electronic systems at the colony, including communications and the settlement's airborne transports, totally cutting them off.
With little alternative and determined to save Elana and Derry, Ness leads his men towards the distant colony, their progress hampered by the dense alien jungle and hostile lifeforms on Midnight. In one encounter with aggressive local creatures, a soldier named Mannen is separated from the group and captured by the Predators. To his surprise, the creatures do not kill him, but instead subject him to a program of indoctrination, leading him to believe he is in fact a Predator himself and join them.
As their arduous trek through the jungles and across the plains of Midnight continues, Ness and his troopers face repeated attacks by both wildlife and Predators, and in one such ambush, Ness falls into an underground river and is swept away from his two surviving soldiers, Georgie and Summers. Climbing back to the surface, Ness continues alone, eventually encountering a tribe of primitive humans living in the treetops who he comes to learn are the descendants of Broagham and the Patrick O. crew. He attempts to convince the outcasts to help him reach the colony, but their leader decides instead that they will trade him with another tribe for supplies and has Ness locked in a cage. While imprisoned, Ness befriends a humanoid alien from a race known as the Karna, whom he christens Rattle. That night, both are freed by a woman named Ann Louise who has taken sympathy on Ness and believes his claims that they can fight the Predators.
At the colony, the Predators discretely implant mind-control devices into several individuals and then use these hapless drones to sabotage the settlement ahead of their attack; as well as destroying various critical systems and the almost-repaired transports, some of the controlled colonists turn the settlement's own perimeter defense guns on the inhabitants within, killing many and destroying most of the protective domes before they are themselves killed. Realizing the Predators will attack soon, the survivors arm themselves and take shelter wherever they can.
Reuniting with Georgie and Summers, Ness and the others with him resume their journey towards the colony. They also encounter Manning, who claims to have escaped from the Predators. However, his allegiances are revealed when he leads them into an ambush in which Summers and Ann Louise are killed. Rattle flees the scene, while Ness and Georgie manage to escape through a cave. The passage is too small for the Predators to enter, so the creatures send Manning after them, arming him with a plasma rifle. He catches up with his fellow soldiers and Ness almost kills him, but Manning reveals his guilt at seeing Summers die has allowed him to overcome his indoctrination. He offers up the plasma gun as proof of his shifted loyalties. Despite his mistrust, Ness realizes Manning's knowledge of the Predators may prove useful and allows him to rejoin them, much to Georgie's disgust.
Despite their misgivings, the group hijacks a Predator transport and makes for their main camp, now largely deserted as the creatures have begun their assault on the colony. Fighting their way through the few remaining guards, the troopers make it aboard the main Predator landing craft and, with Manning's help, take control of it. They make for the colony, and on the way Manning reveals that the Predators intend to evacuate after their hunt and use a giant energy weapon in orbit to "sterilize" the planet of any human survivors. They reach the colony to find the Predators already sweeping the ruins, mopping up after their initial assault overwhelmed most of the remaining inhabitants. The soldiers engage the Predators from the air, killing as many as possible before setting down and preparing to go in on foot. However, as soon as they are off the ship Manning betrays them once again, lifting off in the Predator vessel and fleeing the planet.
Now trapped on the surface, Ness and the others take the fight to the Predators, aided by Rattle and several other Karna who join the battle. Ness reunites with his family before engaging the Predator leader in a one-on-one-duel, emerging victorious when he destroys the catwalk on which the Predator stands, dropping the creature into a boiling volcanic spring and cooking it alive. In the aftermath of the battle, Ness grimly awaits the activation of the Predators' space weapon, but is surprised when he sees the Predator mothership explode in orbit — far from betraying them, Manning sacrificed his life to destroy the ship and the sterilizing weapon with it. With the entire Predator force now wiped out, Ness and his family await the rescue fleet from Earth, promising the other people stranded on Midnight with them — both the primitive humans and the Karna — that they will be rescued as well.
- Predator: Forever Midnight is one of several Aliens/Predator/Alien vs. Predator novels that were never officially published in the United Kingdom.
- Forever Midnight was the first Predator novel to be an original story; all previous books were adaptations of Dark Horse comic books. It was also the first Predator novel to be published by DH Press, taking over from Bantam.
- Rather than adopt the Yautja concept for the Predator race that was originally developed by Steve Perry for the novel Aliens vs. Predator: Prey (and subsequently used in the sequels Aliens vs. Predator: Hunter's Planet and Aliens vs. Predator: War), author John Shirley instead came up with his own society and language for the creatures, whom he dubs the Hish-qu-Ten. Shirley's Hish differ from Perry's Yautja in several ways, both physically and sociologically. The Hish interpretation of the species would return in the following novel Predator: Flesh and Blood, after which the novels became much more more vague about the titular creatures' thoughts and motives. Some more recent books have seemingly returned to the Yautja concept, at least in name if not in specific details.
- The novel's sub-plot of Predators abducting prey and transporting them to a hunting preserve planet would later form the basis of the 2010 film Predators. Like Forever Midnight, Predators also features a human who has been trapped on said planet for a significant period of time, and has managed to survive there by scavenging off of his fellow abductees. In a further link, both Forever Midnight and Predators feature Predators armed with singular, extended Wristblades.
- Throughout the story, Predator Plasmacasters set people they hit on fire but otherwise do not seemingly cause them any physical damage. This contradicts every other depiction of the weapons, in which they are shown to be devastatingly powerful projectile weapons capable of blasting clean through a human body with ease; while they frequently cauterize the wounds they create, they have never been shown setting their targets on fire.
- During the opening Predator attack on the Lazy Eye, several crewmembers exposed to the vacuum of space are said to physically explode. This is a complete fallacy, although the misconception is a fairly common one in science fiction. Notably, the same factual error also occurs in author John Shirley's other franchise novel Aliens: Steel Egg.
- The Predator Kalep-Sis changes from male to female partway through the story, but after this is erroneously referred to as "he" at least once.