Alien is a 1979 novelization of the film of the same name, written by Alan Dean Foster and published by Warner Books.

As well as standard print editions, the novel was released in audiobook format in 2015, read by actor Peter Guinness and published by Audible Studios.

Publisher's Summary

Where was Earth?

This was not their galaxy. A strange sun lit the sky with orange rays. In their long cold sleep, the seven space travellers had left their own universe behind, and now their monitor told them that on the planet revolving below them, someone was signalling for help. By space law, they must descend, explore, and render assistance.

But they would carry weapons. For who could tell what being called to them — or why. All they knew was that it was Alien.

Differences from the Film

  • In the book, the Nostromo is hauling a cargo of crude oil and a refinery to process it rather than mineral ore.[1]
  • The crew is naked during hypersleep, and when in operation the chambers are filled with a viscous liquid that the crew have to wipe off when they wake.[2]
  • Dallas is immediately aware that the crew has been woken in response to some urgent issue as soon as he climbs out of his hypersleep capsule — Mother informs him with a flashing light.[3] In the film, he does not find out something is amiss until he talks to the computer after breakfast.
  • The planetoid's atmosphere is described as being orange or blood-red in color, not grey as in the film.[4]
  • The novel implies mankind has established contact with extraterrestrial species before the Xenomorph, whereas this is never addressed in the film.[5] However, a comment by Ripley in the film does imply that beacons of alien origin have been found, as she asks if the transmission coming from the moon is human or not.
  • The interior of the derelict ship is quite different; most notably the Pilot is completely absent. In the main room, Dallas finds an empty Egg[6] before also discovering the equipment that is broadcasting the signal that brought the Nostromo to the moon.[7] The chamber containing the Eggs is not directly beneath the Pilot chamber as in the film, but deep underground, and instead of a melted hole, it is accessed via a very tall, narrow vertical shaft. In the Egg chamber, the Eggs are placed all over the walls as well as the floor.[8]
  • The design of the Egg is different — they are smooth and opaque but become rough and transparent prior to Facehugger release.[9] The Eggs do not open neatly like in the film, rather the Facehugger simply explodes violently through the top of the capsule.[10]
  • Similarly, the design of the Facehugger (referred to in the novel as the "alien hand") is different to the theatrical films. In the novel it is grey in colour with a single bulging eye on its back, whereas in the films they are a pale yellow and have no eyes.[9] It also has octopus-like suckers underneath the help it adhere to Kane's face.[11] This description conforms with an early concept sketch of the creature done by H. R. Giger.
  • In the film, the Facehugger's attack on Kane takes mere moments, with Kane falling to the ground as soon as he is struck by the creature. In the novel, however, the attack is more drawn-out, and Kane has time to stumble around the chamber, wrestling with the creature on his mask, as he watches it breach his faceplate and slide inside his helmet before overcoming him.[10]
  • We find out that Dallas and Lambert get Kane back to the ship by building a makeshift stretcher out of the winch assembly they used to lower him into the cargo hold.[12]
  • After the Facehugger's blood almost ruptures the Nostromo's hull, the crew briefly considers operating on Kane outside the ship, on the surface of the moon, where the blood cannot cause damage.[13]
  • While x-raying Kane, Dallas notices a 'stain' on his lungs (presumably the Facehugger implanting its embryo) but Ash passes it off as damage to the x-ray scanner lens.[14] This scene was filmed for the movie, but cut.
  • The conversation between Ripley and Dallas that reveals Ash was posted to the Nostromo immediately prior to its leaving Thedus takes place in the ship's mess in the book, whereas in the film it takes place in a corridor as they leave the med bay.[15]
  • Whereas the film simply cuts from the Nostromo leaving the moon to it already in transit with its cargo attached, the book includes a brief scene where the ship re-docks with the refinery in orbit.[16]
  • Kane's first name is given as Thomas.[17]
  • Including the time the Facehugger is attached to him, Kane is unconscious for two whole days in the book.[17] In the film it is around 24 hours.
  • The Chestburster in the novel has arms and legs.[18] The creature in the film was originally supposed to have arms, but Ridley Scott elected to remove them before filming.
  • After Kane's death, the crew discusses decompressing the entire ship to try and kill the Chestburster, but Ash points out this might not actually affect it.[19] Later, after Kane's funeral, the crew again debates how to find and kill the Alien, and Brett comes up with the idea of cattle prods and a net.[20] These sequences were filmed (combined into a single scene), but not included in the movie.
  • In the film, Ripley is mistrustful of Ash. In the novel, both Ripley and Dallas begin to suspect Ash of treachery. Dallas even correctly guesses that Ash is seeking to keep the creature alive for the company,[21] and this happens far earlier in the book than in the film, where Ripley does not know of Ash's secret mission until she checks with Mother late in the movie. In the novel, Dallas questions Ash as to his motives in the medical facility following Kane's funeral, even accusing him of allowing Kane to die so that the creature could survive.[21] A truncated version of this scene appeared in the comic adaptation of the film.
  • The tracking device in the novel is far smaller than the version seen in the film, being only around the size of a walkie-talkie. It is also more rudimentary — instead of a screen to visually display any targets it is tracking, it has a simple red light that illuminates when it detects movement, and a crude needle gauge to display distance.[22]
  • The fully grown Drone has large eyes.[23] While the creature in the movie had no eyes, Giger's original designs did feature large eyes at the front of the head. The Alien in the novel also has similar regenerative abilities as the Facehugger, and notably does not possess an inner jaw, instead killing its victims with its bare hands.
  • At one point, Ash theorizes that the Drone may not be the final stage in the Alien's life cycle,[24] unintentionally foreshadowing the Queen form from Aliens.
  • While searching the ship following Brett's death, the crew discovers the Alien eating their food supplies in a store room and Dallas attempts to kill it with his flamethrower, but it escapes into the ship's vents.[25] It is immediately following this that Dallas enters the air ducts to try and drive the creature into the main airlock; as such, in the novel this plan is made up on the spur of the moment, rather than being formulated in advance as in the film.
  • Rather than a cramped ventilation duct, the Alien takes Dallas inside a large maintenance chamber within the vent system, thereby explaining how Parker is able to retrieve his flamethrower so easily.[26]
  • A lengthy sequence is added where Parker finds the Alien near the main airlock when he goes to refuel Dallas' flamethrower. He quietly contacts Ripley and Lambert on the bridge and gets them to slowly open the airlock's inner door, hoping to expel the creature into space. The Alien goes into the lock, mesmerized by a spinning green light, but just as Ripley shuts the inner door and opens the outer one an alarm sounds and scares the creature off.[27] As it flees, its arm is caught in the inner door as it closes, tearing it off and spraying acid.[27] The Alien knocks Parker unconscious as it flees, and when Ripley goes to investigate the spilt acid finally eats through the airlock door and begins decompressing the compartment. Ripley and Parker are both trapped in the decompressed area when the safety bulkhead supposed to separate them from the breach gets blocked by one of the cylinders of flamethrower fuel Parker had been carrying.[28] Ripley, blood frothing from her nose and ears, manages to dislodge the canister and the door shuts, before Lambert and Ash arrive to assist. Ripley accuses Ash of setting off the alarm to save the Alien, and subsequently goes to Mother to confirm it. This whole sequence was originally planned for the movie, but was cut during filming after only a small portion of the scene set on the bridge had been shot. It would have explained why Ripley suddenly has a nosebleed when she is confronted by Ash inside Mother.
  • The scene where the survivors talk to Ash's severed head is significantly longer. Notably, Ash confirms that the company had deciphered the signal coming from the moon in advance, that they knew about the Alien, and that they had at least some idea of what the crew were walking into.[29] In the film, this is never outright confirmed. Ash also reveals that the Xenomorph is indigenous to the moon, and the Engineers stumbled upon it when they landed there during the course of routine exploration;[30] the film, and especially its sequel Aliens, make it clear that the Eggs were not from LV-426, but were brought to the planet by the Engineers aboard their ship. Lastly, Ash suggests that, as an android, the Alien may have no interest in killing him, and his superior strength may give him a chance at defeating the creature. He tells the surviving crewmembers that if they repair him he will help them, but they decide he is not to be trusted and refuse.[30] In the book, Parker does not incinerate the android's remains, they are simply left on the mess table.
  • In the book, Parker and Lambert are killed gathering food supplies, not oxygen tanks.[31] As it lacks an inner jaw, the Alien kills Parker by breaking his neck, while Lambert is also killed quickly, unlike her lingering death in the film.[32]
  • Ripley discovers the bodies of Dallas and Brett cocooned in a silk-like material as she prepares to activate the Nostromo's self destruct, and it is implied they are being transformed by the Alien into new Eggs.[33] Dallas begs to be killed and Ripley incinerates the room with her flamethrower. This sequence was actually filmed for Alien but was cut late in production. Notably, whereas the other differences between the book and film of Alien were ignored in the subsequent novelizations in the series, this cocoon scene is still referenced in the novels Aliens and Alien3, despite not appearing in the first movie. The footage filmed for Alien was later partially reinstated for the 2003 Director's Cut of the film.
  • The scene on board the Narcissus after the Nostromo is destroyed is markedly different. Following its discovery, the Alien is fully awake and aware that Ripley is hiding in the locker; at one point, it leers at her through the window in the locker door before becoming distracted by Jones in his carry box.[34] As the Alien attempts to break the case open to get at Jones, Ripley gets into the spacesuit and arms herself with a metal spear, which she uses to impale the Alien before opening the airlock. She too is almost expelled from the craft in the process and ends up clinging to the airlock frame with the Alien hanging from her ankle. She climbs back aboard, slams the airlock shut, crushing the Alien's hand, and fires up the shuttle's engines, hurling the Alien's burning corpse out into space where it then explodes.[35]


Alien audiobook

Alien audiobook.

In 2015, Audible Studios produced an unabridged audiobook of Alan Dean Foster's novelization, read by actor Peter Guinness (who played Gregor in Alien3). The audiobook runs for 9 hours and 2 minutes and was released on December 10, 2015, alongside similar audiobooks of Aliens, Alien3 (also read by Guinness) and Alien Resurrection.


See Also


  1. Alan Dean Foster. Alien, p. 22 (1979), Warner Books.
  2. Alan Dean Foster. Alien, p. 13 (1979), Warner Books.
  3. Alan Dean Foster. Alien, p. 14 (1979), Warner Books.
  4. Alan Dean Foster. Alien, p. 67 (1979), Warner Books.
  5. Alan Dean Foster. Alien, p. 74 (1979), Warner Books.
  6. Alan Dean Foster. Alien, p. 82 (1979), Warner Books.
  7. Alan Dean Foster. Alien, p. 83 (1979), Warner Books.
  8. Alan Dean Foster. Alien, p. 96 (1979), Warner Books.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Alan Dean Foster. Alien, p. 99 (1979), Warner Books.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Alan Dean Foster. Alien, p. 100 (1979), Warner Books.
  11. Alan Dean Foster. Alien, p. 150 (1979), Warner Books.
  12. Alan Dean Foster. Alien, p. 105 (1979), Warner Books.
  13. Alan Dean Foster. Alien, p. 95 (1979), Warner Books.
  14. Alan Dean Foster. Alien, p. 130 (1979), Warner Books.
  15. Alan Dean Foster. Alien, p. 159 (1979), Warner Books.
  16. Alan Dean Foster. Alien, p. 167 (1979), Warner Books.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Alan Dean Foster. Alien, p. 174 (1979), Warner Books.
  18. Alan Dean Foster. Alien, p. 137 (1979), Warner Books.
  19. Alan Dean Foster. Alien, p. 183 (1979), Warner Books.
  20. Alan Dean Foster. Alien, p. 186 (1979), Warner Books.
  21. 21.0 21.1 Alan Dean Foster. Alien, p. 193 (1979), Warner Books.
  22. Alan Dean Foster. Alien, p. 205 (1979), Warner Books.
  23. Alan Dean Foster. Alien, p. 214 (1979), Warner Books.
  24. Alan Dean Foster. Alien, p. 218 (1979), Warner Books.
  25. Alan Dean Foster. Alien, p. 222 (1979), Warner Books.
  26. Alan Dean Foster. Alien, p. 223 (1979), Warner Books.
  27. 27.0 27.1 Alan Dean Foster. Alien, p. 244 (1979), Warner Books.
  28. Alan Dean Foster. Alien, p. 246 (1979), Warner Books.
  29. Alan Dean Foster. Alien, p. 261 (1979), Warner Books.
  30. 30.0 30.1 Alan Dean Foster. Alien, p. 263 (1979), Warner Books.
  31. Alan Dean Foster. Alien, p. 269 (1979), Warner Books.
  32. Alan Dean Foster. Alien, p. 271 (1979), Warner Books.
  33. Alan Dean Foster. Alien, p. 272 (1979), Warner Books.
  34. Alan Dean Foster. Alien, p. 278 (1979), Warner Books.
  35. Alan Dean Foster. Alien, p. 281 (1979), Warner Books.


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