Alien - Alien 3: The Lost Screenplay by William Gibson by Pat Cadigan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I'm going to play a little game here.
We all know this isn't the official take on the Aliens universe bible, because the xenomorphs get a massive upgrade in their danger level, going way beyond the life cycle that we've come to know and love. It's more along the lines of Prometheus and it explores just how nasty things could really get.
I'd call it the real Aliens 3 if I could get away with it. It increases at the same rate that Alien became Aliens, and not going backward like the movie we actually got.
In this original screenplay, written in the '80s by William Gibson and later given the novelization treatment here by Pat Cadigan, we even get the wonderful continuation of Hicks and Bishop and Newt. They weren't just killed off. Ripley is kinda missing, but we're dealing with a believability factor that the Aliens 3 movie also had to deal with.
On the other hand, scale and scope and delicious destruction and widespread world-collapse IS something that we can all get excited about. It's the reason why we keep going after the Aliens franchise novels, always hoping that they would break out of the formula mode and generally always being disappointed.
So. If we assumed that this original story WOULD have become the standard, avoiding all the subsequent cash-grabs, BUT also fitting, wonderfully so, with the Prometheus prequel, then I think most Aliens fans will fall over dead or start popping or something.
If you're a fan of the formula without any risk-taking, then I don't really recommend this novel. If you like all the basic premises, the action ramp-up, AND like playing around with the core ideas in a really freakishly horrible twist, then I totally recommend this novel.
It's a natural progression of claustrophobic horror and action film, adding a scouring take-down of both capitalism and communism. It even takes it much further than Aliens 4 with all the genetic weirdness. Indeed, it establishes that weirdness and just flies with it.
But then, I'm a big fan of alternate realities, even if it's an alternate reality of a fictional universe, so take what I say with a grain of xenomorph. :)
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