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!

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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. Well dang…one of these days I’ll figure out how to fold the post with the “to continue reading…” Sorry about the wall of text.

  2. 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.

    Actually the things I remember are (the late) John Hurt having that octopus looking thing land on his face and not get off–to me, one of the scariest movie scenes ever. And, of course, the intriguing manner in which some savvy (if sexist) director had Sigourney Weaver don her astronaut suit.

  3. walto: Actually the things I remember are (the late) John Hurt having that octopus looking thing land on his face and not get off–to me, one of the scariest movie scenes ever.And, of course, the intriguing manner in which some savvy (if sexist) director had Sigourney Weaver don her astronaut suit.

    Ironically, at the time, that scene of Sigourney wandering around the shuttle and later putting on the space suit in her underwear was considered so not sexist. As a point of trivia, originally Ripley was supposed to wear something more boxer-like or even long underwear-ish, but both Sigourney and Scott decided the skimpy briefs were more important to remind the audience that Ripley was actually feminine. In rewatching the movie, I still find that scene distracting because it’s such a departure, both from the atmosphere of the movie to that point and from Ripley’s overall behavior and attitude. But I’ve come to appreciate it.

  4. I always liked the fact that Ripley was a strong female character (not to suck up to women, who are hardly likely to read that!) 😉

  5. I loved that original movie too, and when I saw it on a big screen in Manhattan in 79 I didnt know about the chest burster. I thought the second movie was great in a very different way but since then they’ve completely ruined the mood.
    When the dead space jockey was some mysterious elephant-like creature that was tranporting the eggs for an unknown reason ( the transmission was a warning to stay away) that added so much to the mood. In a deleted scene they find a freze that suggests the space jockeys worshiped the aliens ( or at least admired them). But then they had to transform them into bald body-builder jerks.
    I had been hoping that the aliens would turn out to be a form of nanotechnology- the next level of emergence in the universe after life. They would use life as a template to increase in complexity, and what took life 2 billion years to acheive they could do in a few months. The engineers felt that in a few years they could acheive a god-like intelligence so as to save the universe from its ulitmate fate. The earth was to be the sacrifice that allowed all this to happen. But of course no, they picked an idiotic storyline.
    Years ago i was hoping that the aliens were living things and that when Ripley found their home planet and was ready to destroy them she discovered that they fit perfectly well into their ecosystem. They were even prey to larger creatures that ignored humans. This would have been a great lesson on invasive species!
    Anyway….I guess this is why hollywood hasnt come calling for any of my ideas 🙂

  6. I don’t care for Hollywood happy endings just so the audience can go away feeling good about themselves for watching a frikin’ movie.

  7. I loved the first two, I don’t think the third,. i recently saw them together, night after night, on my computer and was so surprised how i enjoyed them again. they really are , the first two?, great movies and great science fiction ones. Rare for me.
    Sigourney was great and one of the few times a like a fighting chick. mostly i don’t like, or approve, of females claiming to fight as well, or at all , like men.
    However here she is fighting a monster and not people.
    The other alien movies, i watched one, and heard were terrible.
    The first two will always be great movies and new kids will agree.
    I remember being surprised the robot was fighting against them. Yes the stomack monster was not only shocking but a surprise after getting that guy to be healed.

    I wish they made great movies more. they don’t and there are reasons for that.
    fortunately there are no living beings off this planet.

  8. walto: intriguing manner in which some savvy (if sexist) director had Sigourney Weaver don her astronaut suit.

    I thought I preferred Zuul the Gatekeeper. That was a strong female character. But on review of the evidence…

    I thought that Alien telegraphed STRONG FEMALE CHARACTER, and didn’t care for that aspect of the movie. It’s not that I was anti-feminist, but instead the opposite.

  9. REW:
    I loved that original movie too, and when I saw it on a big screen in Manhattan in 79 I didnt know about the chest burster.I thought the second movie was great in a very different way but since then they’ve completely ruined the mood. When the dead space jockey was some mysterious elephant-like creature that was tranporting the eggs for an unknown reason ( the transmission was a warning to stay away) that added so much to the mood.In a deleted scene they find a freze that suggests the space jockeys worshiped the aliens ( or at least admired them). But then they had to transform them into bald body-builder jerks. I had been hoping that the aliens would turn out to be a form of nanotechnology- the next level of emergence in the universe after life.They would use life as a template to increase in complexity, and what took life 2 billion years to acheive they could do in a few months. The engineers felt that in a few years they could acheive a god-like intelligence so as to save the universe from its ulitmate fate. The earth was to be the sacrifice that allowed all this to happen. But of course no, they picked an idiotic storyline. Years ago i was hoping that the aliens were living things and that when Ripley found their home planet and was ready to destroy them she discovered that they fit perfectly well into their ecosystem.They were even prey to larger creatures that ignored humans.This would have been a great lesson on invasive species!Anyway….I guess this is why hollywood hasnt come calling for any of my ideas 🙂

    Those are some cool ideas!

    I personally liked one of O’Bannon’s original ideas that the xenomorphs were a biological contagion used in a war between two alien races and that the derelict ship was transporting the eggs from a manufacturing facility to a military installation for use in the war. Of course, the pilot and the rest of the crew get infected, so knowing his and his crews’ fate, the pilot changes course and tries to crash his ship on a derelict moon.

    The newer premise established by Ridley Scott in Prometheus makes no sense given the distress signal in the first movie. Why would an alien race bent on wiping out humans, and one clearly capable of starting new life and tampering with it, care whether any thing stumbled upon a ship full of deadly organisms. It baffles me why some folk just don’t pay attention to their own previous works.

  10. Mung:
    I don’t care for Hollywood happy endings just so the audience can go away feeling good about themselves for watching a frikin’ movie.

    Ahh…well then! You would likely have appreciated the original scripted ending of the first movie, Mung. O’Bannon’s original script had the alien sneak up in the shuttle and bite Ripley’s head off. And then…even more creepily…it sent a message to Central Command and the Network in Ripley’s voice that she was returning. It was a really downer scene (Ridley Scott shot some of it apparently.) The producers hated it and so did a small test audience, so it was scrapped for the ending we now have.

    One scene you can find on the DVDs and on the Blue Ray versions of the movie is the original idea of how the creature created new eggs by cocooning up victims. Ripley finds Dallas and Brett in a storage room partially digested in the cocoon process. I loved that concept! It made the creature so completely strange and terrifying. But again, the producers didn’t like it and the MPAA thought it a bit too gruesome, so it was scrapped. And thus we now have bugs…

  11. Robin: personally liked one of O’Bannon’s original ideas that the xenomorphs were a biological contagion used in a war between two alien races and that the derelict ship was transporting the eggs from a manufacturing facility to a military installation for use in the war

    I have to admit I’ve never really liked that story line. No matter how nasty and impressive the aliens were, technology should always win in the end, so they’d be ineffective as a weapon.
    Dinosaurs may have been fearsome animals but if they were alive now there’d be no more problem of them escaping from zoos than there is for lions or polar bears. Part of Creighton’s skill in creating the story of Jurassic Park was creating a reasonable scenario in which dinosaurs would escape and eat people. Part of Cameron’s skill in Aliens was creating a plausible scenario in which a bunch of heavily armed and well-trained marines are beaten by the aliens. But if you know what to expect, and are prepared, I dont think they’d be hard to deal with.
    I think alot of the commenters on this blog are probably at a loss as to why someone would put so much thought into these movies, but I think its lots of fun !!

  12. I tied to tempt Reciprocating Bill back with a comment on this in “sandbox”. (Bill – call us!)

    A few random thoughts.

    The alien is too effective, it would run out of food rather quickly.

    hegemonizing swarms (Borg / Smatter / Cybermen) would be a more likely problem in the future

    http://www.iainbanksforum.net/showthread.php?502-Smatter

  13. Richardthughes: The alien is too effective, it would run out of food rather quickly.

    As soon as you start looking for motive, intent, logic, the suspension of belief just disappears. Spoilsport!

  14. Rich:

    I tied to tempt Reciprocating Bill back with a comment on this in “sandbox”.

    Glen:

    He’s just not reciprocating.

    Sometimes he does, sometimes he doesn’t. Back and forth, back and forth.

  15. REW: I have to admit I’ve never really liked that story line.No matter how nasty and impressive the aliens were, technology should always win in the end, so they’d be ineffective as a weapon.

    I think the idea was that they were a part of the arsenal and they were used as a method of cruel torture rather than as a primary, front lines weapon. Think smallpox blankets. Also, if I remember correctly, they were also supposed to be one type of counter so some other side’s own biological creature weapon. So it was a creature designed to initially impregnate some portion of the enemy population, then spawn the creature warriors who would then go and attack the enemy’s own biological attack creatures.

    But I get your point. Such a creature would really not be a practical weapon. For one thing, assuming it was actually effective and wiped out your enemy, you’re left with an area with monsters you can’t easily inhabit. But hey…you have to allow for some handwaving in speculative fiction…

    Dinosaurs may have been fearsome animals but if they were alive now there’d be no more problem of them escaping from zoos than there is for lions or polar bears. Part of Creighton’s skill in creating the story of Jurassic Park was creating areasonable scenario in which dinosaurs would escape and eat people.Part of Cameron’s skill in Aliens was creating a plausible scenarioin which a bunch of heavily armed and well-trained marines are beaten by the aliens. But if you know what to expect, and are prepared, I dont think they’d be hard to deal with.

    Yes, I particularly liked Creighton’s approach with Jurassic Park. I found the idea quite plausible and realistic. Aliens I had issues with because it seemed to me that the whole plot was not well-considered. The number one issue I had with that movie is that the first movie established that Weyland-Yutani knew about the distress signal coming from LV-426 and rerouted the Nostromo to intercept whatever was there. The first movie is vague on how much the Company knew about the alien specifically, but it knew enough to put an android on the ship with a protocol override to get the life form at all costs. So what’s the explanation for the Company developing amnesia over the next 60 years (the amount of time Ripley floats around in space in the shuttle plus the time to establish a colony on LV-426) regarding that life form? It seems the only one who was even remotely curious about the events of Alien and Ripley’s report is Burke, who only sends colonists to check out the derelict after Ripley gets back. So in 60 years, the Company didn’t bother trying to get the alien again? And they decide it’s fine to colonize the planet with no regard or mention of the signal they picked up originally? What?

    And then it just got sillier from there as far I was concerned. I mean, the colonists were on the planet long enough to build a town and an atmospheric processor (20 years according to Van Leuwen’s claim in Aliens), but never scouted the planet or detected the signal or noticed a 100,000 ton alien horseshoe sitting on a mountain ridge? C’mon. And when Burke hears Ripley’s story and decides to send some colonists to check it out, how was he planning on acquiring whatever they find to get the rights (and ultimate profit)? Send a medivac? And, not long after he sent his hapless colonists to investigate and all hell breaks loose (presumably) and the colonists’ transmissions to W-Y end, how did Burke even convince the Company to hand over their jurisdiction to the military and send the colonial marines? Wouldn’t he…you know, ‘cuz he’s greedy and an obvious idiot, send a small scout crew out first or something? And on and on and on I could go…
    Aliens really didn’t make a lot of sense to me plot-wise. Was it a cool action movie? Sure, but it just felt flat compared to the first one. I actually preferred the third movie to it. I thought the plot was better at any rate even if other aspects were worse.

    I think alot of the commenters on this blog are probably at a loss as to why someone would put so much thought into these movies, but I think its lots of fun !!

    Me too. Hence the reason I started it!

  16. Richardthughes:
    I tied to tempt Reciprocating Bill back with a comment on this in “sandbox”. (Bill – call us!)

    A few random thoughts.

    The alien is too effective, it would run out of food rather quickly.

    Ahhh…but O’Bannon thought of that, or at least gave it consideration and some explanation. The adult form of the xenomorphs don’t eat; they get energy via electromagnetic conversion. There’s a throwaway line in Alien where Ash (the science office/android) says to Ripley:
    “I have confirmed that he’s got an outer layer of protein polysaccharides. Has a funny habit of shedding his cells and replacing them with polarized silicon, which gives him a prolonged resistance to adverse environmental conditions. Is that enough?”

    and later:

    “Yes, well, it’s adapted remarkably well to our atmosphere considering its nutritional requirements.”

    Admittedly vague, but O’Bannon was attempting to imply that it was getting energy from something other than food.

    hegemonizing swarms (Borg / Smatter / Cybermen) would be a more likely problem in the future

    http://www.iainbanksforum.net/showthread.php?502-Smatter

    Yeah…I’ll go with you there.

  17. Alan Fox: As soon as you start looking for motive, intent, logic, the suspension of belief just disappears.

    GlenDavidson: Same problem with ID.

    The thirtieth anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Edwards v. Aguillard comes next month. But back to Alien…

  18. The alien had a very high metabolic rate. It increased in size from a squirrel sized gut buster to something bigger than a human in a very short time with only a handful of humans to eat. Not very believable.

    But what is even less believable is the fact that Ripley’s underwear was that clean after what she had been through.

  19. I think Road Runner 2.0 will be better than Alien 4.0 (Or is it alien 5.0?)

    I must have missed one or more of the Alien movies somewhere along the line.

  20. Mung:
    I think Road Runner 2.0 will be better than Alien 4.0 (Or is it alien 5.0?)

    I must have missed one or more of the Alien movies somewhere along the line.

    Meh…you likely didn’t miss them even if you didn’t see them

  21. look up Sal

    Alien isn’t my kind of movie.

    Tombstone, Camelot, Vertigo, Ben Hur, Casablanca, Star Wars and James Bond are more to my liking.

  22. stcordova: Tombstone, Camelot, Vertigo, Ben Hur, Casablanca, Star Wars and James Bond are more to my liking.

    And I thought *I* was old. 😉

  23. stcordova: Alien isn’t my kind of movie.

    Tombstone, Camelot, Vertigo, Ben Hur, Casablanca, Star Wars and James Bond are more to my liking.

    Fair enough. My rant is not so much about the movie(s) though, but rather about world building in fiction and in particular, the lack of attention many world builders pay to their own works.

    Star Wars is actually a great example. While I certainly enjoyed most of the movies for their visual spectacle and their action, Lucas and Kurtz paid very little attention to their own story telling and various conditions they set up (the R2-D2 and more blatantly, the C-3PO amnesia comes to mind…uggh! And far, far, FAR more infuriating: you have a Death Star that can destroy planets! But you travel around another planet to get to your intended target!?!?! WHY??) Those sorts of things irk me. It makes utterly no sense to me why an author bothers to create an element of fact/substance in his or her work when he or she has absolutely no intention of holding to it. Worse, at least to me, is the author who just doesn’t care about his or her own work enough to bother keeping up with his or her own previous plot points, facts, conditions, parameters, and so forth. It’s not that I don’t enjoy films and stories with loose parameters; I just prefer works where the artists do their homework, particularly when said homework is on the conditions established in that very work!

  24. walto,

    Allan Miller:
    I always liked the fact that Ripley was a strong female character (not to suck up to women, who are hardly likely to read that!) 😉

    Ripley with the flame thrower is my favorite female character. That and Ripley in general. I think she changed the way people think about women in movies. Crouching Tiger moved that up a notch.

  25. Isaac Asimov created or perfected our standard fictional universe in Foundation.

    He had all the elements. Robots, FTL jumps requiring computation, empires and outlands, Quasi-Roman government and politics, non-bomb atomic weapons, mind reading and mind coercion, swashbucklers, capitalists, gangsters.

    He worked rather hard fitting it all together. Painfully, I think, toward the end.

    His stated philosophy is you get one or two bits of magic, and the rest needs to conform to reality. His magic bits were FTL and mind reading. The mind reading and mind control are rather limited and are becoming less magic like.

  26. I just prefer works where the artists do their homework, particularly when said homework is on the conditions established in that very work!

    Well said.

    Now that I think about it, as far as sci-fi I tend to like the sci-fi with lovable or compelling characters or a least a pretty girl. Jurassic Park with Laura Dern and 1 million years BC starring Raquel Welch comes to mind.

  27. petrushka:
    Isaac Asimov created or perfected our standard fictional universe in Foundation.

    He had all the elements. Robots,FTL jumps requiring computation, empires and outlands, Quasi-Roman government and politics, non-bomb atomic weapons, mind reading and mind coercion, swashbucklers, capitalists, gangsters.

    He worked rather hard fitting it all together. Painfully, I think, toward the end.

    His stated philosophy is you get one or two bits of magic, and the rest needs to conform to reality. His magic bits were FTL and mind reading. The mind reading and mind control are rather limited and are becoming less magic like.

    i have never read anything from this Asimov dude. i heard about him.
    I don’t think he created modern sci fi or perfected it.
    I think modern sci fi was created/perfected by those who created large audiences.
    I think its the movies and not books.
    Most folks who love Alien/star wars etc never read or heard of this guy.
    I find people always misdirect the credit for things.
    Its simply you score how many people read/watch something.
    Not this influence in small circles stuff.
    Sci fi never existed until star trek and star wars. Anything before was embryonic.
    And i liked movies like space odyssey, planet of the apes, the thing, etc ect

  28. 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.

  29. Mung: I think Road Runner 2.0 will be better than Alien 4.0 (Or is it alien 5.0?)

    ‘Specially when they ride around in fidget spinners.

  30. Robert Byers: I have never read anything from this Asimov dude.

    Just have a glance at his Wikipedia entry. Apart from being one of the three (with Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke) most influential sci-fi authors, he has written extensively on popular science, history and (you’ll like this, Robert) a guide to the Bible. All this as well as being a professor of biochemistry. Not bad for a Russian immigrant.

  31. 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.

    Interesting post, RB. Thanks. And welcome back!

    Have to admit I never thought about most of that. But thinking about that octopus-type thing lying on top of John Hurt’s face scared the shit out of me for months. Spiders have a similar effect on me, but this thing didn’t just kill him or even eat him. It was, like, glued to his freaking face!

    AAAAUUUUUGGGGHHH.

  32. Alan Fox: Apart from being one of the three (with Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke) most influential sci-fi authors,

    You don’t put Philip K. Dick in that group? Or Ray Bradbury?

  33. Alan Fox: Just have a glance at his Wikipedia entry. Apart from being one of the three (with Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke) most influential sci-fi authors, he has written extensively on popular science, history and (you’ll like this, Robert) a guide to the Bible. All this as well as being a professor of biochemistry. Not bad for a Russian immigrant.

    Didn’t read or know about the other either.
    Naw. These are old writers in days when entertainment was not very good.
    Being influential means nothing in storytelling.
    its the story that matters. the ones that reach large numbers of people and then are influential.
    I’m sure his stuff on popular science, history is rightly forgotten (not because he is from Russia but there is a curve in these things)
    Being a Prof of biochem also counts for nothing if he did nothing of account.
    Anyways its about the claim he matters in sci fi.
    He doesn’t unless he is deserving of the credit of sci fi stories that matter/test of time.
    Its like people saying Blues music matters because it influenced Rock music.
    Its not rock and so it doesn’t matter and it didn’t really influence rock. its a error on history.
    If this Issac guys books still sell in a important way that okay he matters.
    I doubt 90% or more of sci fi audiences today ever read anything he wrote.
    its just that in old days nobody wrote sci fi.
    By the way I did hear he prophesied/wrote about satellites.
    so he gets credit for a hunch.

  34. 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

  35. petrushka: Isaac Asimov created or perfected our standard fictional universe in Foundation.

    I prefer the culture, which isn’t human-centric. We’re not even invited yet.

  36. Mung:
    I don’t care for Hollywood happy endings just so the audience can go away feeling good about themselves for watching a frikin’ movie.

    For a long time after I saw the movie in the cinema I kept thinking that Ripley’s cat was infected by the Alien. Not such a happy ending then.

  37. Robert Byers,

    Its not rock and so it doesn’t matter and it didn’t really influence rock.

    I’m no fan of the blues, having been house drummer on a thousand too many 12 bar jams at open mikes, but come on! I mean, Led Zeppelin?

  38. walto: You don’t put Philip K. Dick in that group?Or Ray Bradbury?

    Phillip K. Dick is ascending. Movie makers like his stories, even as they butcher them. Asimov reads like a BBC costume drama, but without the sophisticated literary style. His universe became our fictional universe, but with more explosions.

    Phillip K. Dick’s universe became our universe in the same way that Orwell’s universe IS our universe.

    Bradbury correctly predicted that classic books would become unacceptable. All dystopian futures try to burn the past.

    At my age I’m beginning to feel like all the dystopian fiction of my youth has been treated as instruction manuals.

  39. Allan Miller:
    Robert Byers,

    I’m no fan of the blues, having been house drummer on a thousand too many 12 bar jams at open mikes, but come on! I mean, Led Zeppelin?

    Case in point.
    Led Zep great and good songs were not blues. they were rock.
    The error is that they study/copy riffs but thats not rock.
    rock is acceleration music mimicking human tones of voice of excitement.
    The claim of blues/r/b influencing rock is a british error largely.
    What they studied were successful riffs and then they accelerated, faster beat, and thought they were doing blues etc.
    However its all beatles music really.

    An example is the Ozzy osbourne show, if you ever watched it/
    it has his famous hard rock/heavy metalis song CRAZY. Yet its sung in a slow way by someone.
    its got the same riff but it would be wrong to say its hard rock etc.
    Music is about tones and not riffs.

    likewise in sci fi stories.
    they give credit to early authors but its really lateer storytellers who do the stories that reach audience. Its a myth these old writers matter unmless they actually get their books read.
    Not later stories by others.
    No credit to them. in fact no more then comic books like Flash Gordon.

  40. Robert Byers,

    Led Zep great and good songs were not blues. they were rock.

    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.

  41. petrushka: Phillip K. Dick is ascending. Movie makers like his stories, even as they butcher them.

    There’s a point where adaptation becomes a bifurcation.

    Asimov reads like a BBC costume drama, but without the sophisticated literary style. His universe became our fictional universe, but with more explosions.

    Well, I was buying his later paperbacks as they were published. They didn’t feel dated then (well, maybe the later Foundation novels, when the trilogy stretched to five or six). I’d still put him top of the list as my all-time favourite.

    Phillip K. Dick’s universe became our universe in the same way that Orwell’s universe IS our universe.

    I think, as disreputable as some of his views have become since, H. G. Wells made a contribution to the genre, in the wider sense. I still have one of his less well-known novels, Tono-Bungay, somewhere, which I must dig out and re-read.

    ETA I was impressed by Heinlein’s support for Philip Dick when Dick was in some financial difficulty.

    Bradbury correctly predicted that classic books would become unacceptable. All dystopian futures try to burn the past.

    I was prejudiced against Bradbury by my English teacher recommending him. Any suggestions for his best work?

    At my age I’m beginning to feel like all the dystopian fiction of my youth has been treated as instruction manuals.

    🙂

  42. I don’t think Asimov is dated. He’s just wordy. People talk a lot, and the action is mostly off screen. They could be serialized by the BBC on a very low budget.

    The later Foundation novels manage to squeeze 250 page books into 700 pages. I read them, but do not love them.

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