The Colonial Marines Technical Manual is a fictional guide to the United States Colonial Marine Corps, written by Lee Brimmicombe-Wood, edited by David Hughes and published by HarperPrism.
The manual is divided into two sections, the first of which discusses the Colonial Marines and their armaments, often accompanied by quotes from various Colonial Marine personnel. The manual describes the equipment of the Colonial Marines in great detail, and contains expansive descriptions of the UD4L Cheyenne and the 'Conestoga'-class spaceships (such as the Sulaco), both featured in the film. While staying faithful to the film, the manual also expands upon a number of topics not depicted in the film, such as artillery and tanks.
The second section is a series of message transcripts from the Weyland-Yutani corporation. The manual ends with this fictional series of transcripts between Weyland-Yutani employees as they discuss their theories on Alien biology and its possible exploitation.
The book also includes a brief history of human, colonial and military developments of the 22nd century, which subsequently serves as one of the most in-depth sources of information on the Aliens universe and its history up to the point of the Alien film series. The manual contains information about the organisation of the Colonial Marines, again staying faithful to the films while adding and expanding information.
The Colonial Marines Technical Manual had its origins in the pages of the Technical Readout section of the UK Aliens magazine produced by Dark Horse Comics in the 1990s. The section was written and illustrated by Brimmicombe Wood. His business partner and future editor of the manual, David Hughes was the magazine's other regular contributor of articles and reviews.
Numerous photos and illustrations for the manual were produced with use of actual movie props from the film's armorers, and from the licensed Aliens War live-action ride in London at the time. They were modeled by one of the actors who portrayed a Marine at the ride. Other material was provided by 20th Century Fox, including illustrations by production designer Syd Mead.
20th Century Fox limited the scope of the book to focus on only the second film Aliens, but since Aliens itself refers to the first Alien film, they allowed a number of references and background information regarding the Alien plot to be included, as well. Material dealing with the then-possible third and fourth films was left out.