Alien

So I’ve gotten a tad bored with the discussion of macroevolution at the moment (it’s yet another rehash of the same points that keep cropping like cicada eruptions every few years. For a very similar recent exchange, look up Sal and his lungfish discussion. Or check out Things That IDers Don’t Understand, Part 1 — Intelligent Design is not compatible with the evidence for common descent – from 2012!)

So, as a public service, I figure I’d toss out a something that is a little less dramatic (on some levels) and wholly entertaining.

So I’m a big Alien fan. A fan of the original movie of that name that is and mostly a fan of the franchise that spawned from it. Big fan…HUGE! I loved the original movie (after getting the willies scared out of me the first time I saw it) because it was the only movie I’d ever seen that even remotely tried to come up with a concept of what an organism that did not develop on Earth might be like. And let’s face it, that was one cool organism they came up with!

The other thing about the movie I loved, and I think this in particular was why the movie became so popular at the time and why it is still considered such a classic, well-done movie in general, is that it was not about the alien at all. It was about actual, working class people who have to deal with a serious problem. That it was set in space with alien worlds was almost irrelevant; the characters could easily have been found on an offshore oil platform, a tanker at sea, a pipeline crew, or a trucking company. The audience could easily relate to the characters. As a bonus, the actors were excellent and their portrayal outstanding.

Of course, the thing everyone remembers is the stomach bursting scene and the biomechanical horrific monster that ends up terrorizing and killing off most of the crew.

Here’s thing that few people know: O’Bannon, the guy who wrote Alien (originally called Star Beast) envisioned a totally self-perpetuating organism with a locally-contained life cycle. In other words, the original life cycle idea was egg to breeder to larva  to adult  where the adult ultimately creates more eggs for the cycle to start all over. O’Bannon did not come up with the queen and wasp-like life cycle that folks are now familiar with (that was James Cameron’s idea that he subsequently implemented in the second movie because he could not (and freely admitted at the time) get O’Bannon’s more virus-like life cycle. It irks me to no end that O’Bannon’s original concept got lost in the shuffle, but that’s not the point of this rant.

Incidentally, in O’Bannon’s original concept, the Aliens (or xenomorphs as they are now known) were created as weapons, but not for use against humans. O’Bannon stated that when he wrote the original script, he felt that the original creators (and he did not come up with who they were) did not know a thing about humans. Further, he did not come up with the Space Jockey (the fossilized pilot of the derelict alien ship in the original movie) nor was that Space Jockey necessarily of the race of the creators (now called Engineers). Ridley Scott came up with the Space Jockey from seeing some of Giger’s work. He loved the idea of it cinematically. And when it was finally created on set, he thought it was pretty perfect, possibly the best part of the movie. It really was a phenomenal piece of work back in 1978 and it was AMAZING on screen in 1979. But, no one came up with any real back story for it. Scott, in some interviews, claimed that they tossed around the idea that he might have been a bomber pilot and that the eggs in the hold were the bombs he was supposed to drop on some other alien race. They also tossed around the idea that he was simply an alien trucker (a mirror of the human crew that find him) and that the eggs were his cargo, though totally alien to him and his crew (hence the reason he was found with a hole in his chest). But nobody fleshed it out.

Alas, all that got lost in the in the shuffle of multiple directors, writers, producers, and the inevitable franchise entropy that sets in the moment a property becomes popular.

So all that is the backdrop that leads to my actual point. If one is going to create a piece of fiction (historical or otherwise) that is dependent on a timeline, why would you ever create situations or events that either snarl said timeline or worse, outright contradict it?

Case in point: the newest installment in the Alien franchise (number 4 for those who are hardcore fanatics; 6 for those who recognize anything in the direct timeline as canon; 8 for those who consider anything with xenomorphs as canon; and 9 for those who really stretch things) just came out. For those who have not yet seen the movie, HERE BE SPOILERS!

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

One of the main plot points in the movie, is that David 8, the android created by Peter Weyland (the founder of the now infamous Weyland-Yutani Corporation, the very same one that sent our original hapless Nostromo crew to unknowingly retrieve a deadly xenomorph specimen and return it for the W-Y Bioweapons Division in the first movie) and plopped aboard his research vessel Prometheus ends up surviving the Prometheus movie and flying off with Dr. Elizabeth Shaw in one the Engineer’s vessels to parts unknown (presumably the Engineers’ home world) at the end of the movie Prometheus. In this new movie, Alien:Covenant, the crew of a colony ship discovers David 8 on this paradise planet never discovered before (hmmmm…) that’s actually closer than the colony planet they were aiming for (another hmmm…) It turns out that David 8, tampering and experimenting with the Engineer’s biological life creation (and destruction) goo and some…uhh…subjects (remember those Engineers? yeah…they’re gone) creates, pretty much, the iconic creature we’ve all come know and (perhaps love is a strong word, but…whatever…)

So here’s the kicker. If David 8 created the iconic xenomorphs on some unknown world (again presumably the Engineers’ home world) wiping out all the Engineer species in the process, how’d the original Engineer derelict ship with ALL THOSE XENOMORPH EGGS and a dead, chest blown-out Engineer pilot end up on LV-426 (which, for those not following or keeping score, is not the same paradise planet/Engineers’ home world in the movie Alien:Covenant)?

There…a completely trivial topic, but one I think is seriously worth pondering.

 

 

68 thoughts on “Alien”

  1. waltowalto

    Alan, I liked Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles, myself. Not a ton of sci in his stuff, of course.

    Wells’ Tono-Bungay is fun, but not SF.

  2. Alan FoxAlan Fox

    walto:
    Alan, I liked Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles, myself. Not a ton of sci in his stuff, of course.

    I have read some Bradbury: The Illustrated Man but many years ago and I must not have noticed the author or subsequently forgotten. Sorry, Ray! Regarding The Martian Chronicles There was an abysmal TV series of the same name: earless Martians with bee guns, I recall. I’ll bet someone has a copy I can borrow

    Wells’ Tono-Bungay is fun, but not SF.

    Indeed, found the urge to re-read irresistible. Couldn’t find my old copy (suspect Mrs F jettisoned an unfair proportion of my stuff in our move here) but it was only a euro on Kindle. Already come across a couple of unsettling comments mentioning “Jews”.

  3. Robert Byers

    Allan Miller:
    Robert Byers,

    Oh, what tripe. Since I’ve Been Loving You? Dazed and Confused? Lemon Song? When The Levee Breaks. A fair chunk of these were actual blues songs, though not always attributed to original composers.

    Thats the point.
    They were blues riffs, at best, but not blues. They were rock surely.
    People don;’t like blues music. They like rock.
    Its all about acceleration. Led Zep sppeeded up the beat and thats what matters.
    You could do it with ant hit songs that are not rock.
    like my example.
    Music is based on tones of voice in humans. Not on riffs.
    led Zep never did blues or any brit groups. they think they did because they studied the top riffs of top blues songs.
    like in evolutionism they got the equation wrong.
    Biological evolution is not based on biology but on geology greatly.
    So Biology is analogy with blues and geology analogy with rock/roll.
    Then evolutiondom says they are playing biology yet actually rock/roll.

  4. Allan Miller

    Robert Byers,

    Led Zep sppeeded up the beat and thats what matters.

    Not on any of the songs listed. They are slow blues songs, pure and simple. Of course, blues doesn’t have to be slow either, but slow is the one most readily identifiable (and most deadly to drum to, except for Levee).

    You could do it with ant hit songs that are not rock.

    I have yet to hear anything worthwhile from the ant community.

  5. RobinRobin Post author

    Reciprocating Bill:
    The original Alien is actually my favorite movie, period. The scene in which John Hurt mounts the wall and the camera ascends to reveal the Space Jockey is my favorite in cinema. Seeing Alien in the theater in 1979 was a peak experience for me.

    Much of that is due to HR Giger’s bizarre vision, Ridley Scott’s mastery of dreamlike lighting and atmosphere and Jerry Goldsmith’s haunting score (the warbling flutes in space jockey discovery scene are very beautiful).

    I also, at the time, conceived of the Alien in evolutionary terms, and found the subsequent reveals that it was actually a weapon disappointing and much less interesting. My take was that the Alien life cycle presented in the original film depicted adaptations that exploited a particular environmental resource: curious, social primates. Primates that could not resist investigating, that could not resist staring into an egg once it had opened, that would not remove a face hugger that threatened to strangle a host, that would be too startled to react to a chest burster, that would be hypnotized by the looming, full grown alien (e.g. when Harry Dean Stanton and Veronica Cartwright just freeze and stare before buying it.)

    Prometheus’ take that the Jockey was a guy in a mechanical suit completely violates the events in the original, which unambiguously depict the fossilized bones of a creature that “grew out of the chair,” and indicates that the crashed ship and Jockey were therefore ancient. I found that to be a severe disappointment (not to mention the behavior of the two morons who become trapped in the mound.)

    “Aliens” is fun, but some of the set design choices appear to me to violate the original movie in important respects. Specifically, Aliens attributes to the Xenomorph the construction of excreted set elements that in the original were components of the Jockey’s ship, not products of the Xenomorph.Plus I find the slow inexorability of the original Alien much more frightening than all the running around and combat depicted in Aliens.

    Your post parallels my perspective Bill. I dislike the direction the story/fictional history took in the films after the first movie. While I was not completely turned off by the idea that the eggs had been modified to be used as weapons, I also felt that they had to have started as natural creatures and thus evolved within some harsh, resource limited environment. I conceived of them as opportunistic hunter/parasites. Apparently O’Bannon had a similar thought when he was writing the original script:
    “Parasitic wasps treat caterpillars in an altogether revolting manner,” O’Bannon said, “the study of which I commend to anyone who is tired of having good dreams.”
    O’Bannon was fascinated by the bizarreness and variety of lifecycles across biology. I think his desire to create a believable, yet totally foreign alien life form shows in the original movie. Alas that his vision was diluted and ultimately lost in subsequent versions.
    Oh, and I am totally with you on the Space Jockey. I thought it a magnificent visual when I first saw Alien in 1979. Totally disappointed in their depiction an story line as Engineers. Bah!

  6. RobinRobin Post author

    Richardthughes:
    Gah. Incoming pedantry…

    “… Peter Weyland (the founder of the now infamous Weyland-Yutani Corporation…”

    No. He founded Weyland Industries in 2012, which merges with Yutani Corporation in 2099. Promethus lands on LV223 in 2093.

    https://www.weylandindustries.com/timeline

    Nice catch! Thank you! At least someone’s paying attention. 😉

  7. Robert Byers

    Allan Miller:
    Robert Byers,

    Not on any of the songs listed. They are slow blues songs, pure and simple. Of course, blues doesn’t have to be slow either, but slow is the one most readily identifiable (and most deadly to drum to, except for Levee).

    I have yet to hear anything worthwhile from the ant community.

    ant =any.
    If led did a slow song then it was not rock. If blues is fast beat then its not blues.
    rock is acceleration and so even if a slow pacre they are accelerating the volume.
    Led never had any hit songs that were not rock.
    I don’t see thier music as anything other then rock.
    However perhaps some obscure songs were just slow blues songs.
    nevertheless its about speed and not riffs.
    just as in evolution its about biology and not geology.
    Evolution evidence being based on geology is not bio evidence. So its not a bio hypothesis.
    I like the analogy. Hmmm. A creationist musio group could use it!!

  8. Allan Miller

    Robert Byers,

    nevertheless its about speed and not riffs.

    No it isn’t. Slow songs aren’t all blues songs. Blues songs aren’t all slow songs. It’s about the use of certain modalities – eg the blues pentatonic scale – and certain rhythms. Slow triplets is one such rhythm, the one you think is all the blues is about, and the one that bores me to tears, but there’s the faster shuffle (eg Smokestack Lightning), again triplet based, and straighter 4/4 rhythms. These rhythms and modalities are all over rock. It didn’t come up with them all by itself.

    Sorry again, Alien fans! I blame Robert. 🙂

  9. waltowalto

    Allan Miller,

    I’d say what makes something blues is the I-IV-I, V-IV-I chord changes. Certainly not the speed.

    I’m not sure there’s anything at all that Byers understands. Maybe what he likes to eat or something.

  10. Allan Miller

    walto,

    I’d say what makes something blues is the I-IV-I, V-IV-I chord changes.

    That too, although it’s not diagnostic.

  11. Robert Byers

    walto:
    Allan Miller,

    I’d say what makes something blues is the I-IV-I, V-IV-I chord changes. Certainly not the speed.

    I’m not sure there’s anything at all that Byers understands. Maybe what he likes to eat or something.

    its not chords. its not speed. Its sounds that mimic human tones of voice. So rock is acceleration tones which equal excitement.
    blues does not accelerate. Slow or fast it doesn’t accelerate.
    young people like excitment/acceleration and so like rock but not blues (although any top song is acceptable). So Led Zep does not play blues but only rock(unless obscure songs) it just copies, sometimes blues riffs.
    blues music has nothing to do with rock. its a misunderstanding of style and notes.

  12. waltowalto

    Robert, that’s completely wrong. Scat is a function of human singers mimicking instruments. Maybe that’s what you were thinking of. Blues can be played by flutes, fiddles, aeolian harps, fender rhodes, etc. etc. Doesn’t have to–and usually doesn’t– sound like human voices.

    You’re kind of amazing, incidentally.

  13. Robert Byers

    walto:
    Robert, that’s completely wrong.Scat is a function of human singers mimicking instruments.Maybe that’s what you were thinking of.Blues can be played by flutes, fiddles, aeolian harps, fender rhodes, etc. etc.Doesn’t have to–and usually doesn’t– sound like human voices.

    You’re kind of amazing, incidentally.

    I don’t mean scat.
    I mean that all sounds from instruments only mimic human tones of voice. otherwise there would be no collective understanding of what those sounds mean.
    By the way , Darwins friend, Herbert spencer first said music was just human emotions being copied by instruments. Darwin said he was a genius for saying so.

    Blues is blue/sad because it mimics sad tones of voice. If its not that sad its still low key. its still mimicking human tones of voice that we use when low key.
    Rock is only rock if it accelerates. Not fast, watch your physics here, but accelerating.
    Music is just a continence of what we do all day long.
    Our tones dominate our words. Instruments mimic those tones with equality of understanding.

Leave a Reply