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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars scary
I was eleven, I think, when Alien came out. Being a die-hard nerd kid and into Star Trek, Star Wars, and all that, I begged and pleaded my parents to take me to this movie. They refused, saying I was too young, but we had a long-standing tradition in our family of the kids being allowed to read anything we could get our grubby little hands on, even though movies,...
Published on May 30, 2012 by Eric D. Black

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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Better than I feared, worse than I'd hoped
Alien (Film Novelization) / 0-446-82977-3

The film novelization of "Alien" is pleasantly well-written from a technical standpoint; the book possesses correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation, which cannot always be said for film novelizations. The characters are largely true to their counterparts in the movie, and both the expanded dialogue and the internal...
Published on June 23, 2009 by Amazon Customer


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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Better than I feared, worse than I'd hoped, June 23, 2009
This review is from: Alien (Mass Market Paperback)
Alien (Film Novelization) / 0-446-82977-3

The film novelization of "Alien" is pleasantly well-written from a technical standpoint; the book possesses correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation, which cannot always be said for film novelizations. The characters are largely true to their counterparts in the movie, and both the expanded dialogue and the internal thoughts of the crew have a ring of the genuine to them.

This novelization was apparently based on an extremely early transcript of the screenplay and there are several noticeable differences between the film and the book, which is slightly disappointing if you read film novelizations as a companion to flesh out the film more fully. Most notably, the dead alien with the chest-burst rib cage is missing - a very jarring omission which had me flipping back and forth, wondering where it had got to - and a great deal of the final plot with Ash's betrayal is different, with Ash deliberately and openly interceding to save the alien from being shot out an airlock.

Even considering the omissions, there is a great deal here for fans of the movie to enjoy. The alien facehugger is described very nicely, with frequent allusions to its 'skeletal hand' appearance. (The final form of the alien is described almost not at all, however, presumably due to vagueness in the written screenplay.) The internal thoughts of the crew are fleshed out nicely, with a particular emphasis on Ripley of course, but with flourishes that greatly humanize Dallas and Parker in particular. There is foreshadowing of Kane's ultimate demise, with a mysterious black 'blotch' on the medical scanner over Kane's lungs, and Ash explains how the Company had known that the alien was there (having picked up and translated the warning via long-range scans), and had substituted Ash for the previous science officer right before the Nostromo's regularly scheduled trip, in the hopes that they would pick up an alien and 'accidentally' bring it back to Earth, bypassing the questions and quarantines that a direct mission would have generated. There is also a very nice included scene that was eventually (and in my opinion, unfortunately) cut from the film, where Ripley discovers a cocooned Brett and Dallas, and is forced to euthanize her former friend.

The most disappointing aspect of this book, however, is that the pacing is excessively slow and dull, particularly in the beginning. Even the first few pages crawl painfully, as Foster "introduces" each cryo-sleeping crew member by describing their dreams and discussing whether they would be candidates for 'professional dreamers' and whether their dreams are restless or ordered, pleasant or painful, hazy or distinct. The writing style is what I would deem 'experimental' and I think it might have even worked well if Foster had felt comfortable including more physical detail, but since he was trying to match a movie that apparently hadn't finished yet, details like the appearance of the crew, the ship, the planet, and the alien are kept to a minimum, leaving only the heavy speculative prose.

If you're a die-hard fan of the series, this book is worth checking out, but just factor in the slow-pacing and don't expect too much. For what it is worth, I am now reading Foster's sequel Aliens, and so far the author seems to have corrected all the writing 'mistakes' in "Alien", indicating either growth on the part of the author, or a more complete screenplay source, or both. So if there's a chance that you might read the entire series of alien film novelizations, I recommend starting with this one and just remembering that they get better.

~ Ana Mardoll
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars scary, May 30, 2012
By 
Eric D. Black (California, USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Alien (Paperback)
I was eleven, I think, when Alien came out. Being a die-hard nerd kid and into Star Trek, Star Wars, and all that, I begged and pleaded my parents to take me to this movie. They refused, saying I was too young, but we had a long-standing tradition in our family of the kids being allowed to read anything we could get our grubby little hands on, even though movies, television, and music were under tight parental control.

So, my dad let me read the book.

It scared the living crap out of me, and I have nightmares to this day about it.

Some years later, when I did eventually rent and watch the movie, it was no big deal. I found it kind of silly, actually, and HR Geiger's images never particularly bothered me. I was probably sixteen by then. Was the book really that much scarier than the movie, or did it have the effect on me that it did because I was so young? You have to understand, when I read the book, I had no idea what the plot was, had never seen any pictures of Geiger's monster, and the only image I had for the whole thing was the ominous cracking egg on the front cover. That egg, if you didn't already know, bears no resemblance at all to the pods in the movies. If anything, it looks like it's about to hatch a radioactive chicken, but that can be pretty scary stuff to an eleven-year-old with an active imagination.

And that is where Foster shines in this adaptation. He lets your imagination run wild. The pacing of the book is slow, but that kind of sucks you into that world. If the monster just jumps out at you in the first page, it's not as scary. He lets the suspense build, and when the monster does arrive, he never shows it to you, never offers a physical description. He lets you come up with that, and the monster in my head was much worse (to me) than anything Geiger could do.

None of you reading this, probably, will start from the blank slate I did back then, so you are unlikely to have the same experience I had reading this book. In our media-saturated culture, it may not be possible to duplicate that experience. More's the pity.

I'm ordering this for my own son, who is thirteen and has never seen any of the movies. I think he is too young for them, but I will let him read the book...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Alien, February 6, 2010
This review is from: Alien (Mass Market Paperback)
Having never seen the movie in its entirety, I came into this book without having any preconceived notions of what was supposed to happen, as according to the movie. It was an interesting premise, given that the crew was sent to their slaughter to find out why another alien vessel was warning everyone to stay away from the planet, and just what happened to the people that were chosen to host the alien offspring. The most disconcerting thing was that the alien was never fully described, so even though I had an image based off of what little I have seen, I was also able to think up something rather scary to me. All in all a very suspenseful read for me, since I didn't know how it would end.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Pinnacle of Sci-Fi Horror!, December 27, 1999
This review is from: Alien (Mass Market Paperback)
Based on the 1979 film "Alien", this novel is one of my favorites. It is very interesting, suspensful, and dramatic. A survival story of the crew on the spaceship "Nostromo", who land on an uncharted planet to investigate what they believe to be a distress call, and bring back the most horrifying creature they've ever seen. When I first read it, I was so intrigued, I read the entire book in one sitting. You've never read a Sci-Fi novel until you've read "Alien"! That's my two cents.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sometimes you get more. Sometimes you get less., December 1, 2010
By 
Z. Simon "HarlotBug3" (Poway, California United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Alien (Mass Market Paperback)
Novelizing a screenplay is a funny idea in itself. The passive voice/faux eloquence can certainly be laughable, but the real entertainment comes from scenes that deviate so strongly from the film that you end up scratching your head even if you initially sneer. It's worth it for the curiosity factor, but don't expect it to add any weight or depth to the Alien mythos.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Faithful novelization with poor pacing, April 23, 2007
By 
M-I-K-E 2theD "2theD" (The Big Mango, Thailand) - See all my reviews
Having loved reading science fiction for a full seven years, one would suspect the reviewer of also loving science fiction movies; here, one would be incorrect to a great degree. Generally, I really don't like many science fiction movies for a number of reasons: (1) over-glamorizing the science-y aspect, (2) injecting cheesy Hollywood drama, (3) rehashing so many SF clichés, (4) interweaving the genre with fantasy or the paranormal, (5) pushing the movie toward more action than substance, (6) featuring Tom Cruise or (7) basing the movie on some lame premise. Good science fiction movies are far and few between.

One movie stands out among all others for its original blend of science fiction and horror, action and substance, quality and appeal, and timelessness. To be blunt, Alien scared the shit of me when I was young; even now it sets my nerves on end (genuine horror or nostalgia, you be the judge). Considering that the story is now thirty-five years old and still haunts the memories of past impressionable minds... only Star Wars (I may never say this again) can be compared to its impression. For me, Alien, to this day, epitomizes an excellent science fiction movie plot (obviously without regard for social science fiction--give me flamethrowers, aliens and spaceships!).

Call is nostalgia if you like, but when a fan of Alien and science fiction literature, like myself, picks up a novelization of a movie, you can bet that the expectations are high and fuelled purely by nostalgia. Thanks to Alan Dean Foster's fine prose and perspective, the novelization of Alien reflects the movie very closely. Although I didn't almost pee my pants, my eyes did remain glued on the pages, all 218 pages of which I consumed in one day.

Amen.

I read the Omnibus edition (Warner, 1993), so the page numbers may differ from the cover featured (Titan Books, 2014).

Movie tagline:

"In space no one can hear your scream."

------------

Light-years from Earth, the deep-space commercial tug Nostromo slides through the featureless void of subspace with two billion tons of crude oil. As the automatic refinery processes the oil, seven dreamers lay in their cryogenic chambers and Mother, the ship's artificial intelligence, watches over them like its name suggests. When Mother detects something like a distress signal, it puts the Nostromo and its crew on a course to investigate the source of the signal. The crew is awoken.

Unbeknownst to the crew aside from the captain/pilot Dallas, their three-month journey home should have landed them in Earth's orbit with the blue marble itself gracing their view screens. When they are unable to locate Earth or even contact traffic control, Ripley, the ship's warrant officer, discovers that they are in fact in the system of Zeta II Reticuli. Dallas informs everyone of the beacon broadcast, a non-standard signal almost certainly of alien origin. The science officer, Ash, confers with Mother on a number of possibilities but it's Ripley, again, who discovers that the distress beacon is actually a quarantine warning. Ripley begins to doubt Ash's position among the crew and his loyalty to their humanity.

Ripley takes the ship down to the surface of the planet, which is nearly as dense as Earth but much smaller and covered in an inhospitable atmosphere choked with dust. It's this dust which clogs intakes, overheats engines, and creates fires in power cells. Landing, the ship is in obvious need of repair while a team of three--Dallas, Kane and Lambert--venture through the yellow dusty mist to While Ash, Ripley and the two engineers, Brett and Parker, stay aboard the Nostromo, the latter two begrudgingly make repairs and bitch about not receiving full shares, the three who ventured forth discover the source of the signal: a giant, u-shaped craft held at a precarious angle on the planet's surface.

The huge derelict alien craft has three open ports which Dallas, Kane and Lambert access and discover the physical source of the beacon. Curiosity gets the best of them and they attempt to explore the depths of the ship. Having set up a winch, Kane is lowered through an interior channel where he discovers a vast cavern he assumes to be a storage room. The oppressive heat of the cave causes him discomfort and the well-organized leathery sacs cause him confusion. In an ignorant attempt to pry one open, he succeeds and is gripped by the unwelcome embrace of a facehugger. When Dallas and Lambert reel him back up, the unsightly spider alarms them and they flee back to the ship with Kane in tow.

Ripley is unwilling to allow the three-man team back into the ship for fear of xenological contamination; even with the commands and threats of Dallas, Ripley does not open the exterior hatch, but Ash does comply, going against all protocols of decontamination. With Kane supine on the autodoc, Ash probes the facehugger with an assortment of tools, only to discover that it uses an extremely acidic defense mechanism--its blood dissolves linen, plastic and even the metal of the hull. Seeing facehugger regenerate its wound, the only option is to let it remain on Kane's face for fear of either killing him via the parasite or destroying the ship via the corrosive blood.

Brett and Parker complete their arduous task of fixing a number of systems and prepare the ship to leave the planet and dock with its massive cargo of oil in order to return to Earth. Meanwhile, Ash watches over Kane and calls the crew to come observe two sequential events at the autodoc: (1) the facehugger detached itself from Kane's face and is not lifeless and (2) Kane's recent recovery, who has symptoms of amnesia and a ravenous hunger, but he physically appears to be in fine form. Homeward bound, the crew look forward to ten months of cryo-sleep and decide to share one last meal together. Kane's three-meal hunger is interrupted by a pain in his chest, the cause of which bursts through his chest and scurries off to hide, a grotesque creature covered in Kane's organs and blood.

The shocked crew decide it can't exactly kill the creature because of its corrosive blood, so a method of shocking and netting the little creature is started. They have one week to capture it and send it out the airlock before the ships runs out of oxygen and before they return to cryo-sleep to await for their return to Earth. As they hunt for the creature with electronic trackers, Brett is assigned to recover Jones--the ship's cat--but ends up being taken by the alien which stalks the air ducts. Both Ripley and Parker observe the alien's incredible strength as it lifted Brett clear off the floor. As they cat had fled the equipment bay during the attack on Brett, so too do Ripley and Parker run away from the scene of fear.

Realizing that rods of electricity were not going to tame the alien predator stalking their lives, they upgrade their weapons to flamethrowers and remain convinced that they must corral the creature toward an airlock, where they can eject the fearsome hunter into the vacuum of space. After Dallas's unexpected death, the five remaining crew are skittish to every susurrus or scrape made within the Nostromo. Parker is the first to warn Ripley of the alien's location next to an airlock. From her console, she starts the sequence to close the airlock; the alien is mesmerized by the flashing green warning light, but when someone triggers the klaxon, the alien drops out of the lock, gets its arm stuck in the closing door and flees from the scene, knocking over Parker in the process.

The acid of its amputated limb corrodes the metal of the door; air leaks through the hole causing a hull breach. The crew panic and struggle to regain control of their precious atmosphere. When the incident comes under control, Ripley is the first to ramp up her suspicions of Ash; she consults Mother with the following query: IS ASH PROTECTING THE ALIEN? Is one man at fault in the Nostromo for the travesty unleashed, or is the Company--concerned for the matters of "maximizing profit, minimizing loss" (200)--the prime culprit?

Yet, the alien, a "perfectly organized organism" (203), continues to stalk the remaining crew.

------------

From my memory, I presume the novelization of Alien to be faithful to the movie. The one aspect of the book which doesn't make the movie is the pace; at the half-way point through the novel, Ash and Dallas discover the facehugger had detached itself from Kane's face.

The first half of the novelization feels bloated with dialogue between the engineers Brett and Parker. There are sections where the reader is dragged through their technical conversations about power cells, welding, striping components, and replacing modules. The stodgy dialogue characterizes the disgruntled duo but adds very little to the plot. Perhaps it's also an attempt to characterize the Nostromo as a sympathetic cause. While the name Nostromo lives well in our memories of science fiction--"This is Ripley ... warrant-officer, last survivor of the commercial starship Nostromo, signing of this entry" (217-218)--no one really sympathizes with the ship... only the circumstances within the ship.

One sensation was captured beautifully in Foster's novelization, which matches my memories of the movie: the sense of fear doesn't rest in the physical sight of the alien, but in knowing that it's there, anywhere. Just as the alien is occasionally glimpsed in the film, Foster pens a few brief scenes where only portions of the alien are visible to the crew: its arms tearing Parker from the floor, its hand pulling Dallas through the grating, its tail bobbing near the airlock, its arm stuck in the airlock door, its head peering through the glass of Ripley's closet door. Here in the novelization, the fearsome alien is never seen in its entirety--only the innate fear of the creature is visible in the crew's desperate attempts to drive it from their ship, their home.

Which brings to mind a famous JFK quote: "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself". To the reader, this means that the characters' fear is the catalyst for the reader's fear, not the manifestation of the fearful object. While the alien may scare them witlessly when their in its terrible presence, the lurking fear of its arrival and their death is their prime sense of hopelessness.

Because of the long introduction with all the technical dialogue, the conclusion is rather abrupt. The action sequences in the book weren't as well paced as the movie, resulting in jittery scenes of flight or fight. The key scene of Ripley's frustration with the self-destruction mechanism isn't highlighted in the novelization--it's given a cursory mention. That was one scene in the movie where my memory is the most vivid: the elaborate self-destruct sequence and the impending doom from the well modulated, comforting voice of Mother.

Thankfully, the novelization doesn't self-destruct. Foster's prose is occasionally eloquent and his choice of vocabulary interesting. Of course there are the occasional deeper insights into the functioning of the Nostromo or further depth to characters, but nothing is errant. On the technical side, there's only one flaw concerning the Doppler effect and the speed of light: "The Nostromo achieved, exceeded the speed of light ... Stars ahead of them became blue, those behind shifted red" (128): if you exceed the speed of light, there is no light to shift.

------------

Back in 2007, Alien was my 22nd novel of the year. Later, Aliens was the 60th novel of the year and Alien 3 was the 101st (busy year of reading that was!). Now, seven years later, I'm on an eight-day holiday all alone and I will do the honor of reading the three books in sequence (along with some additional horror short stories). I may be scared of the dark during the next few days.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ADF Alien Novelization: About what you'd expect, January 22, 2014
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This review is from: Alien (Mass Market Paperback)
The novel is based on earlier drafts of the script so the dialogue will be different than presented on screen. Also, I would advise watching the movie before reading the book, for those who haven't seen it. There is no clear description of the Alien adult stage present (for I believe when it was written, the design for the creature had not yet been finalized). However, there are several interesting scenes present here, more dialogue rounding out the characters, and the overall plot is unchanged.

The movie is clearly superior, but for fans who would appreciate the differences and for those who like to watch the "making of" documentaries on movies, this novel will tie into the early production interviews and design changes. It's like "watching" an early version of the film.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No Title, April 16, 2013
By 
C. L Wilson (Elmhurst, Illinois United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Alien (Mass Market Paperback)
Even though I knew the basic plot, because I had seen the movie at least twice, I had forgotten details and found this to be quite the thriller.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Frank Tibbetts, January 24, 2012
This review is from: ALIEN (Hardcover)
In space, no one can hear you scream.

Seven cryogenically frozen dreamers are awakened aboard the interstellar tug Nostromo. As haziness begins to dissipate, Captain Dallas retires to communicate with MOTHER-the ships onboard computer system.

Finding themselves off course and light years away from home, MOTHER informs Dallas that an alien distress signal has been detected and that under company protocol; they are obliged to investigate it.

Landing on the uncharted planet, Lambert, Kane, and Dallas suit up to search for the signal. Finding an enormous derelict spacecraft of unknown origin, they find that the ship has crash landed.

Officer Ripley and Science Officer "Ash" stay aboard the Nostromo to record their findings, but soon lose contact with the Away Team. Ripley deciphers part of the signal and discovers that it is a warning beacon-unfortunately, it's too late.

As the team descends deeper into the belly of the vessel, Kane climbs down a shaft and discovers a chamber filled with thousands of egg pods. Touching one, it opens. Before he can react, a "thing" that looks like a skeletal hand with a serpentine tail lurches at his face and dissolves through his helmet.

Returning to the ship dragging an unconscious Kane, Dallas commands Ripley to open the hatch. She refuses on the basis that Kane must be quarantined. Ash disobeys Ripley and opens the hatch.

Several attempts are made to remove the creature from Kane's face, but the alien has deadly defense mechanisms¯one of which is a corrosive acid that nearly eats through the hull of the ship.

Hours later, Kane is found alive and well in the medical bay. The alien is dead and Ash begins to dissect it. Over dinner, Kane convulses and an alien bursts through his chest. The creature escapes before the doors can be closed to contain it.

The plan is to corner the alien with motion sensors and stun guns, and expel it from the ship. But they soon discover the alien has grown quickly and has a plan of its own! Several miscalculations of the creature's whereabouts in the maze of air ducts cause the deaths of Dallas, Lambert, and Brett.

Ash tries to kill Ripley in an attempt to save the alien and Parker attacks him. They discover that Ash is an android. They salvage Ash's head and he tells them that he was sent to bring the alien back to use as a biological weapon. Realizing her efforts are futile, Ripley decides to abandon ship and blow up the Nostromo.

Author Alan Dean Foster has written the ultimate thriller and has created the most violent creature in sci-fi history! "Alien" keeps your heart pumping until the last second of the final countdown! Very deserving of a five star rating!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bought this used copy, love it~, May 7, 2014
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This review is from: Alien (Mass Market Paperback)
So many pieces of the narration had to be scraped to make the movie. Worth every penny to read some of the original narration via the author Alan Dean Foster, in this novelization of the first Alien film.
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Alien
Alien by Alan Dean Foster (Mass Market Paperback - 1979)
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