on 2 August 2013
I've loved the concept of Alien ever since I first watched the film in the early 80s, the jaw of every family member dropping open at the chestburster scene - before we hit rewind to watch it again. I approve of any work that is coherent, where the form fits the theme. And in the original there is that first feeling of awe at something completely alien to us, a feeling lost in the sequels which - even though some are still good films - increasingly see the Alien become a scary but known quantity. It is no longer alien.
Despite having seen the film many times, reading this novelizaion based on an early script let me experience elements of it as if for the first time, because there are subtle changes from the film I know: extra characterizations, a different pace, altered details. We can never experience anything again for the first time, but this captured a hint of that feeling of discovery.
These are some of the changes I noticed between the novel and the film. The differences below apply to the novel.
- In hypersleep the humans are naked and surrounded by a kind of amniotic fluid.
- There is no Space Jockey on the derelict craft.
- The face hugger has an eye and suckers.
- The facehugger is cut in a different place as they try to take it off Kane's face.
- Kane is not held down when the chestburster erupts.
- Dallas confronts Ash.
- There is a scene where the remains of Brett and Dallas are discovered - a scene removed from the film, but which suggests a totally different life cycle from the one eventually adopted in Aliens and later lore.
- Details of the ending in the shuttle are changed.
The writing takes a bit of getting used to. It flips between perspectives, even including Jones the cat's viewpoint. There is never a section break when the action jumps between perspectives or locations or time, which can be jarring. It should also be pointed out that the adult Alien is never described in much detail, probably due to a vagueness in the script. It is also the reason why there are not many physical descriptions for characters.
The version I have is the 'Illustrated Edition'. It contains some colour prints from the film, captioned to tell a brief version of the story. But it gives away the fact that this novel was being put together at the same time as the film was being shot, since whoever did the captions got mixed up about what some of the pictures portrayed, probably having not yet seen the film. The pictures show them exploring the alien spaceship, but one of the photos is actually the base of the humans' own craft, the Nostromo; whereas the final picture which purports to show the crew searching the Nostromo actually shows them inside the derelict craft. Evidence that this book is from back then, 1979, when most of the world had yet to experience a being so... alien.
on 11 June 2016
The novelization of Alien the book is very good,
I've also seen the film which is just amazing and well acted.
The film is very dark and spooky and sets the atmosphere straight away from the start,
with the music which I believe they use in Alien 1, 2 & 3.
In the film you get to know all 7 crew member's and the ship the Nostromo,
and when you finally get to see the xenomorph i.e the Alien it is just frightening,
8 feet tall with two sets of jaws, armour plated skin and acid for blood.
The book is written by Alan Dean Foster rereleased in 2014,
so it's the same I believe as the original from 1979.
The author didn't get to see any footage or photo of the face hugger or the xenomorph,
which is why in the book he says the face hugger has a large eye which it doesn't in the film,
plus doesn't mention at all about the Alien's two sets of jaws,
as he never really had anything to look at apart from the film script.
Yes there are a few other parts as well in the film that are not in the book and vice versa.
Basically in the book it's the same story but in much more detail,
you get to know each crew member better I feel,
as it describes what each person is thinking and there individual friendships.
In the book you really do get to see just how calculating Ash is,
as it's down to him their ship the Nostromo defrosts them out of hyper sleep,
and they're homing in on a so called SOS signal to a unknown planet.
This is how Ash is described in the book,
ASH WAS A FUNNY SORT , KIND OF COLDLY FRIENDLY,
BUT SUPREMELY COMPETENT. NOTHING RATTLED HIM.
If only the other crew members knew what his intentions were from the start, Scary.
All the way through the book it's fairly bang on with the film,
apart from a few places where it's changed slightly or the author goes into great depth,
for example when they are going down to land on this unknown planet,
he states every switch or screen that is used on the Nostromo bridge,
over roughly about 10 pages.
I love how he describes Dallas, Lambert & Kane on their long walk from the Nostromo to the Alien ship,
I know you see this in the film but here in the book he tells you every step they make & what's coming up,
for example: KANE WAS IN THE LEAD, SLIGHTLY AHEAD OF LAMBERT.
ANY MINUTE NOW HE EXPECTED HER TO ANNOUNCE THEY'D REGAINED THE TRACKING SIGNAL,
HE TOPPED A SLIGHT RISE, GLANCED AHEAD EXPECTING TO SEE MORE OF WHAT THEY'D ENCOUNTED THUS FAR: SMOOTH ROCK LEADING UPWARD TO ANOTHER SHORT CLIMB.
INSTEAD, HIS EYES CAUGHT SOMETHING QUITE DIFFERENT,
DIFFERENT ENOUGH TO MAKE THEM GO WIDE BEHIND THE DIRTY TRANSPARENT FACE
OF THE HELMET, DIFFERENT ENOUGH TO MAKE HIM SHOUT OVER THE MIC PICKUP.
WHAT IS IT? WHAT'S THE MAT......?
BOTH DALLAS & LAMBET PULLED UP ALONGSIDE HIM,
BOTH WERE SHOCKED BY THE UNEXPECTED SIGHT AS KANE HAD BEEN.
Also it describes how the Alien is using the air ducts aboard the Nostromo,
to gain access around the ship unseen and ripping through 3cm plated steel.
The part where Dallas enters the air ducts on his own to try and flush out the Alien,
is just scary. He finds the large central air duct mixing chamber where the Alien,
must be going back and forth through, here it's pitch black and the author describes how the Alien
is hidden just out of sight and trying to grab hold of Dallas and just missing, SCARY STUFF.
Just before Dallas decides to enter into the air ducts, the last 5 remaining survivors,
are walking up towards the food locker when they hear what sounds like loud rending noises,
like metal / steel being torn ripped apart.
This isn't in the film which is a shame.
Also the thoughts going through Kane's head when the chest buster is about to show it's self,
But it's Ash like I say you will not believe what he does at the end,
if you really want to know how sick Ash is and what he does to Ripley,
then you need to also read the next book in the story,
called (Alien Out Of The Shadows)
All I'm going to say is it's no wonder Ripley has nightmares and is so messed up.
To be honest even if you have seen the film ALIEN this is a very good read,
think of the film as a video with no sound,
and the book is the missing link, believe me it fills in some of the gaps left from the film.
on 10 June 2015
Fantastic! From start to finish this nail-biting horror/thriller film turned novel kept me gripped and thoroughly engaged in the story. I find Alan Dean Foster's unique style of writing to be simple, user friendly and yet poetic and flowery simultaneously. Foster was able to pack oodles of atmosphere into lots of description, but it was written in such a way as to make it interesting, a place where a lot of authors fail. To achieve such a marvelous mixture in the correct proportions is true talent at its greatest.
Quote Alan Dean Foster:
"Seven dreamers. You must understand that these were not professional dreamers. Professional dreamers are highly paid, respected, much sort after talents. Like the majority of us, these seven dreamt without effort or discipline..."
"...It was lonelier than falling through space. Spinning slowly as the wire unwound, Kane dropped through total darkness, not a star or nebula in sight."
"Ash released Ripley. She collapsed on the floor, choking and holding her throat. His hands performed a macabre pantomime. Then he, or more properly it, stumbled backward, regained its balance and commenced searching the deck for the separated head."
"Ripley thumped the stop. It was quiet in the cabin, the first quiet of many days. She thought it barely possible she might rest now. She could only hope not to dream."
Brilliant! A wonderful and fluid use of words and images, which really capture the whole feel of the novel right the way through from start to finish. I could literally quote the entire book here, but I urge readers to read it for themselves.
As in the film of Alien, the characters in this novel are likable, pleasing and I was rooting for them the entire time, never the alien. I often find that I prefer baddies to goodies in stories but this is one exception. The goodies rocked and the baddie was horrendous, in a fascinating way of course. The alien was an evil entity. It didn't come across as human in the slightest. It was completely without thoughts, feelings and a motive I could even sympathize with. Normally such a character I'd consider to be a bit one-sided, and potentially bland but no. Because of its complete lack of humanization the alien came across of formidable, utterly.
Foster took Ridley Scott's original cast and he expanded on them beautifully. We got inside their heads and saw what they were thinking, something which a film struggles to do at the best of times. Atmospherically he also did the same. To turn the apparently exotic and glamorous idea of space travel on its head, into the filthy, grimy, boring and samey life of these oil refiners was risky, but I loved it. It made me think of space travel as real life and it personified it. I love the way Foster made The Nostromo seem so "normal" even though it was floating out in space, light-years away from earth. Incredible!
The only minor complaint I have about Alan Dean Foster's writing is that his action sequences are a little difficult to follow. He seems to jump around without really describing in any detail what is actually happening, so I am left unable to picture the scene. However, given this story's other major selling points this is one time I can forgive Alan.
Overall I recommend anyone to read this book, whether you've seen the film or not. It is exceptional.
on 29 June 2015
A great book that stays fairly close to the film, with the expected bits added on of course, but, there are still bits from the film that have been omitted from the book, for instance, in the film, Dallas, Kane and Lambert, when investigating the source of the S.O.S' find the seated skeleton of one of the alien creatures that sent the signal with its chest burst outwards, this isn't even hinted at in the book, some other scenes too, but this does not stop me giving it 5 stars, as it it's still a well written and entertaining book. I recommend it to ANY sci-fi/horror fan. Now for the sequel: Aliens.