Interviews & Profiles

Alien: The Cold Forge – Interview with author Alex White

Yesterday was #AlienDay, and an appropriate point to unleash a review of Alien: The Cold Forge, the newest tie-in novel from Titan Books to the Alien universe, written by Alex White. Suffice to say, we really dug it. You can check out our review here.

Alex was kind enough to sit down with Set The Tape co-editor Tony to talk about bringing The Cold Forge to life…

You state at the end of the book how Alien was the first franchise you wanted to write in – how did The Cold Forge come about for you?

My publicist, Lydia Gittins, moved from Solaris to Titan during the production phase of my debut novel. She was a big fan of my book, EVERY MOUNTAIN MADE LOW, and she emailed to tell me she’d be happy to send me some Titan swag.

I immediately checked out the website because I’m a glutton for free stuff, and saw they had the Alien license. That’s when I called my agent, Connor Goldsmith, and said, “You’ve got to get me an Alien deal.” Two years and three pitch sessions later, we were looking at a contract.

The Cold Forge is set in the era of Aliens & Alien3, but how closely does the story connect or tether to the previous novelisations such as the Out of the Shadows trilogy?

I wasn’t actually allowed to touch those books as part of my discussions, and had to draw all canon from the films (no Dark Horse, either). It worked out, since I wanted to have a self-contained story with potential future ramifications!

You intentionally shy away from recreating a Ripley-style character here – was that intentional to distinguish the book? How did the process of figuring out the characters happen?

I was first invited to pitch to Titan editor Steve Saffel while I was away at a day job conference called UX Week. During the keynote, Double Robotics showed up with their latest telepresence robot and presented. It was basically an iPad on a Segway, but it was a remarkably effective substitute for a human being.

It immediately clicked for me, and I started trying to puzzle through how a character might use one of those in the Alien franchise.

Dorian Sudler is a magnificently grotesque protagonist, he reminded me of Hannibal Lecter. What inspired his character and what were your touchstones in devising him?

Dorian, on the other hand, came from the toxic culture of the tech industry. I work with a lot of companies in Silicon Valley, and I’m constantly meeting venture capital seekers who’ll compromise any amount of ethics for a quick coin. These are people who have no qualms with creating a late-stage capitalist dystopia, because they’re able-bodied metropolitan white men who stand to benefit from it immensely.

Blue Marsalis is fascinating in how she can project her consciousness into synthetics or machinery – do you feel this was always a natural evolution for the Alien franchise technology? The next step in synthetic evolution perhaps?

Considering how many people get eaten in that universe, it’d be a handy piece of tech for sure!

There are suggestions of deeper conspiracies and bigger corporate machinations afoot in the background here – is this the beginning of a new Alien series from you?

I’m afraid not… currently. We’ll have to see what Titan does with the things I’ve added!

Finally, what is your favourite Alien movie and why?

As boring as this answer is, my favorite Alien movie is the original Alien. I love the painful tension that permeates the entire film, as well as the terrifying corporate politics at which it hints. The acting is all wonderfully subtle, and the vision of the future is believably bleak. It’s easy to imagine a world where the job requirements force mothers away from their daughters for a few years to haul ore. And having the crew be a bunch of space truckers was a stroke of genius.

Our thanks to Alex White for his time in answering our questions. You can buy Alien: The Cold Forge now from Titan Books, priced £7.99.

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