Epeolatry Book Review: Alien 3: The Unproduced Screenplay by William Gibson


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Title: Alien 3: The Unproduced Screenplay
Authors: Pat Cadigan and William Gibson
Genre: Horror, Sci Fi
Publisher: Titan Books
Release Date: September 2021

Synopsis: The first-draft Alien screenplay by William Gibson, the founder of cyberpunk, turned into a novel by Pat Cadigan, the Hugo Award-Winning “Queen of Cyberpunk.”

William Gibson’s never-before-adapted screenplay for the direct sequel to Aliens, revealing the fates of Ripley, Newt, the synthetic Bishop, and Corporal Hicks. When the Colonial Marines vessel Sulaco docks with space station and military installation Anchorpoint, a new form of Xenomorph appears. Written by Hugo Award-winning novelist and “Queen of Cyberpunk” Pat Cadigan, based on Gibson’s never-produced first draft. 

The Sulaco—on its return journey from LV-426—enters a sector controlled by the “Union of Progressive Peoples,” a nation-state engaged in an ongoing cold war and arms race. U.P.P. personnel board the Sulaco and find hypersleep tubes with Ripley, Newt, and an injured Hicks. A Facehugger attacks the lead commando, and the others narrowly escape, taking what remains of Bishop with them. 

The Sulaco continues to Anchorpoint, a space station and military installation the size of a small moon, where it falls under control of the military’s Weapons Division. Boarding the Sulaco, a team of Colonial Marines and scientists is assaulted by a pair of Xenomorph drones. In the fight Ripley’s cryotube is badly damaged. It’s taken aboard Anchorpoint, where Ripley is kept comatose. Newt and an injured Corporal Hicks are awakened, and Newt is sent to Gateway Station on the way to Earth. The U.P.P. sends Bishop to Anchorpoint, where Hicks begins to hear rumors of experimentation—the cloning and genetic modification of Xenomorphs. 

The kind of experimentation that could yield a monstrous hybrid, and perhaps even a Queen.

It has been nearly 20 years since ‘Aliens 3’ hit the big screen to mostly negative reviews. While many have changed their minds over the years, it still marked the end of the Xenomorph’s era of quality films for many. Now, thanks to the amazing Pat Cadigan we get to experience a Marvel styled “What If” as we boldly ask, “What If producers Walter Hill and David Giler had given us William Gibson’s take on the franchise’ as she adapts his unreleased script into a fully fleshed out novel titled, ‘Alien 3: The Unproduced First-Draft Screenplay.’

Titan has been giving us quality ‘Alien’ stories for years now and this release gives us not only expanded stories into the world of Ripley and friends but a world that would have been quite different from what we all ended up seeing in theaters (or at home for the younger crowd.)

In this outing, we follow Ripley, Newt, and Hicks as the three survivors of LV-426. No off-screen deaths of two major characters here my friends.

Immediately, we’re thrust into warring factions between the Weyland-Yutani and Union of Progressive Peoples. Both of whom not only wish to run the universe but are also experimenting with Xenomorphs.

You just know that is going to go over well.

The idea gives us now a well-travelled path where we see Xenomorphs being used as lab rats in experiments that have gone wrong. While we’ve all had a chance to read and see this quite often at this point, it would have been much more original when released in 1992.

Overall, it was an enjoyable read. My personal preference would have had Ripley and Newt front and center or at least at the same level of being central to the plot as Hicks. I’m a bit torn. I feel that Cadigan gave life to Hicks and the new characters in a way that ‘Aliens 3’ failed to do with their story. However, I also feel that this, as the film we ended up getting, weren’t as strong as either of the first two installments.

For Cadigan’s writing style alone I feel that this is a must by. To see what could have been and for those who want a complete ‘Alien’ collection, it is a no brainer to pick up. However, if you’re looking for something radically new and different in the Xenomorph franchise, you may want to look elsewhere. All that being said, Cadigan gives us an adaptation on William Gibson’s take on the ‘Alien’ franchise that delivered Xenomorphs, war, and great characters!

 out of 5 ravens.

Available from Amazon and Bookshop.

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