The alien predators like heat -- so why is one prowling Siberia, and killing people at a remote pumping station?
A secret American military group sends Lt. Schaefer of the NYPD to find out, and he joins forces with a Russian officer -- but that doesn't mean they trust each other.
How and why I wrote it:
I really enjoyed writing Predator: Concrete Jungle, and Dark Horse was pretty happy with the results, so they asked if I'd like to do another Predator novelization. I turned down Predator: Big Game on the grounds that I wasn't familiar enough with the setting (but actually because I didn't much like it), but I was happy to tackle Predator: Cold War, which was a direct sequel to Concrete Jungle, bringing back much of the cast, and scripted by Mark Verheiden, whose plotting and characters suited me.
You might wonder why I was willing to write about Siberia but not the American Southwest; well, at the time I hadn't been to either of them, but I figured readers were more likely to spot errors in a New Mexico setting. I'd studied Russian a little as a teenager, so I felt more comfortable with Russians than with Indians.
So I wrote it, and had fun, and made some money, but after that I felt I'd had enough of the Predators, and was happy to see Steve Perry take over the series.
What's different from the original comic books:
I didn't need to change much with this one; there weren't any issues regarding conflicts with movies. There were a few small things that were altered, though:
The opening of Chapter 9 was added so that I could work in a friend of mine, Jon Cohen, and the name of the comics shop he worked at, as a little in-joke. (Jon and I are now partners in Beyond Comics, and Collectors World, which was never in New York, is long gone.
The original comics had Schaefer making a joke about missing "One Life to Live." I thought that should be modernized, so I changed the TV show in question to "The X-Files."
I had forgotten that "X-Files" was also a 20th Century Fox property; they didn't want jokes about it. I was told to change it, so it wound up as "Melrose Place."
It was obvious that whatever his other talents, Mark Verheiden didn't speak Russian; he had some of the name forms wrong, and in one instance had a dialogue balloon supposedly in Russian where it's literally impossible to say that exact line in Russian -- the words simply don't exist. I corrected those -- most obviously, changing "Ligachev" to "Ligacheva." Surnames have gender in Russian; a woman can't be named Ligachev.
I also got the definite impression that Mark did not have much experience with really cold weather; some of his descriptions, while poetic, did not match my own experience of sub-zero conditions at all. (I grew up in New England and have spent some other winters in very cold climates, as well.) So I changed those, too. And I relocated the pumping station because there's no oil where he seemed to have put it. (He was sufficiently vague about the location that I wasn't sure where he had it, but I put it somewhere I knew there was oil.)
I didn't need to mess with the plot, though; that was fine just as it was.
The main thing I remember researching for this one was Russian weaponry. Since I was working in text and couldn't rely on images, I needed to know what a Russian soldier would be carrying, so I read up on the AK-74 (not the familiar AK-47), and the newly-developed-at-the-time AK-100, and various other firearms. That was mildly interesting.
I also brushed up on Siberian geography, the Russian language, and a few other such details, but not very extensively. And of course, I watched both Predator movies again, and re-read my own previous novel. I wanted to make sure everything was as accurate and consistent as possible.
But that was about it -- there was nothing remotely like my long conversation with Lt. Kasanoff for Predator: Concrete Jungle, or the trip to New York to check out locations for Spider-Man: Goblin Moon. There was no series bible, the way there was with Star Trek. All I had to do was follow the original.
That's it; here's your list of handy exits: