Titan Books, out now
A chance to go back to the start of a literary as well as a cinematic franchise as the Nostromo’s journey across the galaxy is interrupted near LV-426…
For those of us who were too young to get into cinemas when Alien first came out, Alan Dean Foster’s novelisation was the perfect way to experience the movie – indeed, Foster’s novels often improved the screenplays on which they were based (thinking here particularly of The Black Hole – any chance of reprinting that please, Titan?).
Reading it now with the benefit of 35 years’ hindsight, you can see how cleverly he sets up the crew in the opening chapter: we get a good feel for all the characters by what their dreams reveal about them, without spoiling any of the revelations later in the story. The set pieces remain powerful after all this time – the chestburster scene; Ripley’s final battle – and of course there are the scenes which didn’t make it to the final cut. It seems odd now, in these days of deleted scenes on DVD/Blu-ray as standard, that there could ever have been debate as to whether such moments had been filmed or not, but I recall that Dallas’ final moments were hotly discussed!
The problem with the Alien franchise in literary form is that familiarity has sometimes bred contempt – the new trilogy is a marked improvement on some of the tales which were released a few years back – and it’s refreshing to return to the story which set the template, and remind ourselves that sometimes less is more. If you’ve never experienced the story told this way, then pick up a copy now!
Verdict: A powerful retelling of a terrific blending of horror and SF tropes. 8/10