As well as standard print editions, the novel has been released in audiobook format twice — the first, an abridged edition released in 1992, was read by actor Lance Henriksen and published by Dove Audio, while the second, released in 2015, was read by actor Peter Guinness and published by Audible Studios.
Here, even the wind screams. Abandoned hulks of machinery rust in the colorless landscape. Dark, oily seas beat against a jagged black shore. And the remnants of a reentry space vehicle crash into the rough waves.
In it sleeps Ripley, a woman who has battled the enemy twice. It killed her whole crew the first time. The second time, it slaughtered a spaceload of death-dealing Marines. Now, on this prison planet that houses only a horde of defiant, captive men, she will have to fight the ultimate alien horror one more time.
Before it rips apart a whole world...
Differences from the Film
The changes made to the Special Edition of Alien3 are also found in the novelization, including Clemens walking alone on the beach and witnessing the EEV crash, the use of oxen to recover the downed pod, one such creature subsequently becoming host for the Dragon, the prisoners successfully trapping the Xenomorph in a waste storage tank before a deranged Golic releases it, the numerous additional lines of dialogue throughout and Ripley falling to her death without the Chestburster emerging from her. Other notable differences include:
- The opening scenes aboard the Sulaco are expanded to explain exactly why it is necessary to completely evacuate the ship, and why the EEV carrying the survivors from Aliens crashes so catastrophically on Fiorina "Fury" 161 instead of landing safely. There is no mention of an Egg in the novel, and when the Facehugger that is loose aboard the ship attempts to pry Newt's cryotube open, it is impaled by a shard of breaking glass, causing its blood to spill; curiously, the Facehugger quickly dies of its injuries, meaning there are at least two of the creatures in this version of the story. The spilt acid sparks an electrical fire under the floor that begins filling the chamber with explosive fumes, while the flames spread rapidly beneath the deck and behind the walls, destroying the sprinkler system and extractor fans in the hypersleep bay before they can control the situation. The volatile gasses quickly build up to a critical level, forcing the computer to evacuate the ship before there is an explosion. Instead of the single EEV as in the film, all 10 of the Sulaco's escape pods are automatically jettisoned. However, at the moment the pods launch, the toxic fumes detonate, tearing open the Sulaco's hull and severely damaging the electronic systems on the launching EEVs; one of the pods swings straight around and slams back into the Sulaco, causing more explosions as the abandoned ship drifts onwards. The EEV containing Ripley, Hicks and Newt is similarly afflicted, and a cascade of failures in its guidance and manoeuvring computers ultimately causes the pod to crash into the sea at high speed when it attempts to set down on Fiorina 161.
- Whereas the emergency occurs directly above Fiorina 161 in the film, the journey to the planet takes several days in the novel.
- The planet is known as Fiorina "Fury" 361 in the novel, not 161 as in the film. Instead of an enormous prison complex, the facility is an ex-platinum ore mining colony, abandoned when fluctuations in the market value of the metal rendered it unprofitable. It is mentioned that Weyland-Yutani intends to reopen the mine when the market improves, but in the meantime it is leasing the deserted complex to the prison system, with the prisoners housed there doubling as caretakers who look after the facility until it reopens. Notably, the inmates in the novel are still actively serving sentences, whereas those in the film are said to have stayed on the planet of their own volition after the prison was closed. They are, however, being paid wages for their work looking after the complex.
- While she is unconscious in the prison's medical bay, Ripley has a nightmare about being stalked through the Sulaco's hypersleep chamber by a Xenomorph. The creature grabs her from behind and pins her to the top of Hicks' cryotube, and actually rapes her as the Corporal grins at her through the glass. This sequence was featured in early drafts of the film's shooting script.
- Several of the characters have different personalities and appearances to the film. Notably, Dillon sports a single dreadlock on his head, despite the problems with lice at the colony. Aaron still has a low IQ and serves as Andrews' unquestioning lackey in the early part of the book, but once command falls to him he is far more pro-active and scheming. He helps Ripley hunt the Dragon, and once it is successfully trapped he decides to use the event to his own advantage, hoping to paint an illustrious picture of his own role in the Xenomorph's capture and thereby secure a handsome reward and a promotion off of Fiorina. He is also more physically imposing — after the Dragon is released by Golic, Aaron floors the combative Morse with a single punch.
- The medical complications of being woken prematurely from hypersleep are said to be far more severe in the novel, with side-effects including respiratory/circulatory issues or cellular disruptions that could even prove fatal. In the film, Ripley is unwell, but never said to be in any serious medical jeopardy.
- As in the Special Edition, Clemens asks Ripley if Newt was her daughter before performing the autopsy on her corpse. Ripley tells him no, but in the novel she additionally tells him that her own daughter died a long time ago.
- When questioned by Clemens about the need to perform an autopsy on Newt, Ripley makes up a story about the mission to Acheron, saying Weyland-Yutani were researching various deadly bacteria and viruses on the planet and that the Colonial Marines had to destroy the facility with a nuclear strike to contain an outbreak. She claims that as a result of the disease research, Newt may have contracted cholera.
- As in the Special Edition, Frank and Murphy find the corpse of a Facehugger alongside Babe, the dead ox that acts as host to the Runner. However, in the novel it is never made clear if it is a different type (i.e. a Royal Facehugger) or simply another regular Facehugger. Frank suggests it is a jellyfish.
- The lead works in the prison is still in use and several of the prisoners work there. In the film it is described as having been shut down for some time.
- After the funeral for Hicks and Newt, Ripley scratches her head and finds lice in her hair. This scene was filmed but not used in the movie. It also appears in the comic adaptation of the film.
- During the meal in the mess hall, Ripley eats cornbread, likely a reference to the breakfast scene in Aliens.
- Murphy uses a laser to clean grime from the walls of the ventilation shaft, not a simple shovel as in the film.
- It is explained that Boggs, Rains and Golic are foraging for overlooked provisions when they are attacked by the Dragon. Instead of an uninhabited part of the facility, they venture into the abandoned mine shafts beneath for their search, and the candles they light are "breadcrumbs" to help them find their way back to the main complex. In the film, it is never particularly clear what they are doing, although it is suggested they are mapping an abandoned part of the facility.
- The scene where Clemens meets with Andrews in his office is extended at the end, and Andrews reminds Clemens that his loyalty is to the company and asks him to keep a close eye on Ripley. This additional dialogue is also in the comic.
- Instead of partially severing his head with a Headbite, the Dragon completely decapitates Boggs, twisting his head around with its hands and pulling it off of his shoulders.
- Bishop's body is completely decapitated following the EEV crash, and Ripley sets him up on a table much like Ash in Alien. This is also the case in the comic. Additionally during this scene, Bishop explains why the Sulaco had to be evacuated and why the EEV subsequently crashed, as described in the opening chapter of the novel. Finally, Ripley lies about deactivating the damaged synthetic; while she claims to his face she will follow through his request to be destroyed, she subsequently muses that he is far too useful to be discarded and intends to keep his remains.
- Clemens, like Boggs, is beheaded by the Runner.
- As he watches the Dragon leer over Ripley in the infirmary, Golic offers to help the Xenomorph, asking it to release him. This dialogue is also in the comic adaptation.
- After Clemens' death, Ripley briefly considers committing suicide by taking an overdose of medication in order to escape the horror of the Xenomorph. However, she quickly decides she is stronger than that.
- Ripley specifically states that the Dragon is bigger than the Xenomorphs she has seen previously, and also has different legs. While the creature in the film is indeed supposed to be larger than the Xenomorphs in the preceding films, this is never explicitly stated on screen. Ripley also tells the survivors that the Dragon is almost certainly building a Hive somewhere in the facility, although it is never seen.
- Following Andrews' death, Ripley, Aaron and Dillon go looking for the Dragon in the ventilation ducts, starting in the shaft where Murphy was killed. During their search they discover a large dried-out husk, a discarded adult skin, indicating the Dragon is still growing (something that Ripley again suggests is unprecedented). This sequence was scripted but never filmed. In the novel, it is during this search that the survivors find the toxic waste tank and come up with the plan to trap the Dragon in it.
- While the prisoners prepare for the quinitricetyline plan, Arthur and Troy search through a vast supply of flashlight bulb to find any that actually work. While a similar scene is added in the Special Edition, in the film they are looking for working batteries, not bulbs.
- During the quinitricetyline fire, the Dragon emerges and begins actively killing prisoners amidst the flames. This also happens in the comic. Also in this scene, the burning man that Ripley helps to extinguish is not Gregor, and the individual dies from his injuries almost immediately.
- When the Dragon is trapped inside the waste tank, it briefly attempts to batter its way out, pounding huge dents into the solidly-built door, but the structure holds and it quickly gives up.
- Golic kills two prisoners guarding the waste tank where the Dragon is being held, as opposed to just Arthur in the Special Edition, and he uses a club to do it, not a shiv.
- Ripley strips naked for the medical scan in the EEV. The novel makes it clear that she fully expects to find a Xenomorph embryo inside her; in the film, she suspects her ill health may be the result of internal bleeding or a skull fracture, and is genuinely shocked when she learns the truth. In the novel, the Queen is gestating in her uterus, which she theorizes is because it requires more space than a typical Chestburster.
- Ripley once again refers to the scene in the novelization (and Director's Cut) of Alien where she finds Dallas and Brett cocooned by the Alien. She also theorizes that although the Xenomorph can evidently reproduce without a Queen via "Eggmorphing", it may not be able to create a Queen in that manner, hence the need for the Queen embryo inside her. This makes the novelization of Alien3 the only official source that attempts to reconcile the two methods of Xenomorph reproduction.
- When Ripley goes to hunt for the Dragon to see if it will kill her, she goes up into the vents above the infirmary (where the creature disappeared after killing Clemens), not down into the basement as in the film. Unlike the film, where she mistakes a large pipe for the Dragon, she actually attacks the creature with a pole, but it disarms her and runs away.
- The scene where Ripley asks Dillon to kill her takes place in the assembly hall in the novel, not Dillon's cell. While telling him about the Queen insider her, she additionally tells Dillon that she knows it is an Egg-layer because she saw its developing head crest on the EEV scan.
- Dillon's rousing call to battle also takes place in the assembly hall, rather than an antechamber of the lead works.
- During the bait and chase sequence, Dillon discovers Troy's mangled corpse. This footage was shot but was not used in either cut of the film.
- In the film, Eric fires the piston in the lead works early in a panic. In the novel, he fires it at Ripley's command, but the Dragon manages to get behind the piston, leading to the second round of chasing as in the film. This also happens in the comic.
- Michael Bishop and his team arrive in the furnace before the Dragon is killed, but can only watch helplessly as Morse dumps the molten lead on the creature. The Weyland-Yutani Commandos are armed with Smartguns rather than Pulse Rifles.
- In the novel, Dillon successfully escapes the mold with Ripley, and after the Dragon has apparently been killed he prepares to break her neck as part of his promise to kill her, but finds he cannot bring himself to do it. At that moment, the Dragon emerges from the lead and drags Dillon back into the molten metal, killing him. His alternative death is also featured in the comic.
- As he is trying to convince Ripley to come with him, Bishop claims Carter Burke had been operating alone during the events of Aliens, painting him as a rogue agent rather than a representative of the company's interests. He also reveals the name of the company ship that brought him to Fiorina — the Patna. When he is wounded by Aaron, the novel makes it clear he is human and bleeds "real blood".
- After her death, Morse briefly prays for Ripley.
- Finally, the novel clears up how Ripley's signing off message from the end of Alien can be heard coming from the EEV, when there is no reasonable way a recording of it could be stored on the pod; the radio message is instead lingering in space, and is picked up by the radio equipment on board the EEV.
To coincide with the novel's original publication, an audiobook version read by actor Lance Henriksen (who played Bishop in Aliens and Michael Bishop in Alien3) was produced by Dove Audio. Owing to the runtime limitations of the cassette tape format on which it was released, the novel was heavily abridged so that it would fit onto just two audio cassettes. The audiobook runs for 2 hours and 59 minutes. It was re-released digitally by Phoenix Books on August 13, 2009.
In 2015, Audible Studios produced a new unabridged audiobook of the novelization, read by actor Peter Guinness (who played Gregor in Alien3). The new full-length version audiobook runs for 7 hours and 29 minutes and was released on December 10, 2015, alongside similar audiobooks of Alien (also read by Guinness), Aliens and Alien Resurrection.
- Originally, Alan Dean Foster wanted his adaptation to differ from the film's script, which he disliked. Chiefly, he wanted to keep Newt alive. According to Foster, "My thought ... was to explain that her capsule was damaged and that she would therefore have to remain in deep sleep until it could be repaired. That way, she remains alive but inactive for the duration of the story, Ripley's motivation to fight to remain alive in order to sustain her is maintained, and Newt's status being iffy (she can live or die at any time) adds another element of suspense to the film." Foster also drew up back stories for many of the inmate characters, to add additional motivation for them. However, the producers responded that he was not permitted to alter the storyline and rejected all of the material he had planned to include. As a result of the experience, Foster later turned down the novelization of Alien Resurrection, which was ultimately written by A. C. Crispin and Kathleen O'Malley.
- Each of Foster's novelizations for the Alien franchise begins with a section discussing dreams. His novelization of Alien3 is the only one of the four that does not also conclude with a mention of dreams, as all of the main characters are dead by the conclusion of the story and thus there is no one left to dream.
- ISBN 0-446-36216-6; [June] , Warner Books, paperback, 218 pages
- ISBN 978-0751506679 (as The Alien Omnibus); [October] , Little Brown Book Group, paperback, 656 pages
- ISBN 978-1783290192; [May] , Titan Books, paperback, 256 pages
- Alan Dean Foster. Alien3, p. 12 (2014), Titan Books.
- Alan Dean Foster. Alien3, p. 13 (2014), Titan Books.
- Alan Dean Foster. Alien3, p. 15 (2014), Titan Books.
- Alan Dean Foster. Alien3, p. 17 (2014), Titan Books.
- Alan Dean Foster. Alien3, p. 16 (2014), Titan Books.
- Alan Dean Foster. Alien3, p. 47 (2014), Titan Books.
- Alan Dean Foster. Alien3, p. 20 (2014), Titan Books.
- Alan Dean Foster. Alien3, p. 82 (2014), Titan Books.
- Alan Dean Foster. Alien3, p. 27 (2014), Titan Books.
- Alan Dean Foster. Alien3, p. 33 (2014), Titan Books.
- Alan Dean Foster. Alien3, p. 183 (2014), Titan Books.
- Alan Dean Foster. Alien3, p. 201 (2014), Titan Books.
- Alan Dean Foster. Alien3, p. 36 (2014), Titan Books.
- Alan Dean Foster. Alien3, p. 50 (2014), Titan Books.
- Alan Dean Foster. Alien3, p. 52 (2014), Titan Books.
- Alan Dean Foster. Alien3, p. 65 (2014), Titan Books.
- Alan Dean Foster. Alien3, p. 70 (2014), Titan Books.
- Alan Dean Foster. Alien3, p. 77 (2014), Titan Books.
- Alan Dean Foster. Alien3, p. 85 (2014), Titan Books.
- Alan Dean Foster. Alien3, p. 76 (2014), Titan Books.
- Alan Dean Foster. Alien3, p. 120 (2014), Titan Books.
- Alan Dean Foster. Alien3, p. 112 (2014), Titan Books.
- Alan Dean Foster. Alien3, p. 127 (2014), Titan Books.
- Alan Dean Foster. Alien3, p. 134 (2014), Titan Books.
- Alan Dean Foster. Alien3, p. 135 (2014), Titan Books.
- Alan Dean Foster. Alien3, p. 152 (2014), Titan Books.
- Alan Dean Foster. Alien3, p. 153 (2014), Titan Books.
- Alan Dean Foster. Alien3, p. 159 (2014), Titan Books.
- Alan Dean Foster. Alien3, p. 162 (2014), Titan Books.
- Alan Dean Foster. Alien3, p. 164 (2014), Titan Books.
- Alan Dean Foster. Alien3, p. 165 (2014), Titan Books.
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- Alan Dean Foster. Alien3, p. 177 (2014), Titan Books.
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- Alan Dean Foster. Alien3, p. 197 (2014), Titan Books.
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- Alan Dean Foster. Alien3, p. 233 (2014), Titan Books.
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- Alan Dean Foster. Alien3, p. 242 (2014), Titan Books.
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- Alan Dean Foster. Alien3, p. 245 (2014), Titan Books.
- Alan Dean Foster. Alien3, p. 247 (2014), Titan Books.
- Alan Dean Foster. Alien3, p. 248 (2014), Titan Books.
- "Strange Shapes - Divergent Universe: The Alternate Fates of Newt & Hicks". Retrieved on 2014-08-28.
- Alan Dean Foster. "Planet Error", Empire Magazine, April 2008, Pg 100