I was practically rubbing my hands together when I decided to dive into the novelization of Alien, written by Alan Dean Foster. Every time I walked by the room that houses my books, I could see the back cover of Alien and it’s words were taunting me, “Where was Earth?”. I couldn’t wait to sit down and crack it open, as I absolutely love the Alien movie. Thank the heavens, the novelization does everything I wanted it to do. It adds a bunch of different details, gives me insight in to what the original script would’ve been like and some how managed to still have me guessing as to what was going to happen and hoping things would turn out differently. Perfect!
Short nitty-gritty plot description from the back cover is as follows: Where was Earth?
This was not their galaxy. A strange sun lit the sky with orange rays. In their long cold sleep, the seven space travellers had left their own universe behind, and now their monitor told them that on the planet revolving below them, someone was signalling for help. By space law, they must descend, explore, and render assistance.
But they would carry weapons. For who could tell what being called to them — or why. All they knew was that it was Alien.
Tatlock’s Quick ‘n Dirty Recap: I mean just look at that description above. Doesn’t that just make you want to rip into the book? It did for me. Anyway, I’m pretty sure everyone knows what transpires during the full story of Alien and the book doesn’t deviate too far from the basic formula of the movie. There are slight omissions here and there and changes to some of the characters decisions and scenes. Oddly enough, the giant Space Engineer from the derelict is completely missing from the book and the Alien has eyes, which I heard was how Giger originally envisioned it.
H.R. Giger’s original Alien design. Yeah, not phallic at all.
So, as the story goes, the tug ship Nostromo is hauling of a bunch of crude oil (different than the mineral oil in the movie), when Mother, the computer AI on board, receives a distress signal from an unknown source and awakens the crew, which consist of the usual suspects from the movie. You have Dallas, the captain of the ship, Ripley, the warrant officer, Kane, Executive Officer, Lambert, the navigator, Ash, the science/medical officer, Parker and Brett, the engineers and finally Jones, the cat. The crew awakens, thinking they are finally back to Earth’s solar system, but are surprised to find they are nowhere near it. Instead, they are in some unknown system and they have a distress call that needs investigating.
The crew lands their ship on the deserted planet, which will later be known as LV-426. There, Dallas, Lambert and Kane head about to the distress signal and meet the ship, which seems to have not crashed landed, unlike the movie, but landed safely and discovered a bunch of strange pods, that house these weird creatures that crew from the Nostromo, call a hand (i.e. Facehugger), which manages to latch onto Kane’s face. Dallas and Lambert bring Kane back, hoping the ships Autodoc will help him. Little do they know, the hand, is planting an egg in Kane and before you can start singing “Hello, My Baby”, that thing is going to burst forth and wreck havoc on the entire crew.
One of many of H.R. Giger’s original Facehugger designs.
Tatlock’s Opinion: I’m pretty sure I don’t need to go any further into the plot, lest I spoil it all for you. Basically, if you’ve seen the movie, you know what’s going to happen in the book, but somehow, while I was reading it, I kept wondering/hoping things would play out differently for this doomed crew. I was hoping maybe someone would notice the egg in Kane, or they would capture the Alien early and send it out the airlock. Of course, this is ridiculous to think that, as the story has already been told and nothing was going to change what would transpire. That’s how fantastic Alan Dean Foster is at telling a story and keeping me fixed to the pages. It somehow managed to make me hope for a happy ending and that my friends, is a way to write a book.
I can’t really think of any negatives with the novelization of Alien, as it pretty much does a perfect job at telling the story we all know, yet adding in bits and changes to keep things fresh. It’s probably going to bother a few people with the changes, as this was based on an early screenplay, but it definitely isn’t the Predator novelization, where the creature is completely changed. It keeps the same brilliant sci-fi classic story and doesn’t mess with perfection.
A Facehugger that’s about ready to burst out.
Verdict: Experiencing the Alien story in written form, with a few neat differences and an author who is able to keep the reader on the edge of the seat, even if you already know how it plays out, are one of several reasons why this book is highly recommended for Alien fans and sci-fi fans in general.