Alien III is a 2019 audio drama adaptation of William Gibson's unproduced script for Alien3, directed by Dirk Maggs and starring Michael Biehn and Lance Henriksen. It was published by Audible Studios on May 30, 2019.
As with the earlier comic book adaptation of Gibson's unmade script, the audio drama is based on the second draft screenplay, which differs substantially from his more widely-known first draft.
Father of cyberpunk, William Gibson's original script for Alien III, written in 1987 as a sequel to Aliens, never made it to our screens, although it went on to achieve cult status among fans as the third instalment that might have been after being leaked online.
This terrifying, cinematic multicast dramatisation — directed by the multi award-winning Dirk Maggs — is the chance to experience William Gibson's untold story and its terrifying, claustrophobic and dark encounters between humans and Aliens as a completely immersive audio experience.
We travel aboard and hear an alarm blare. Our heroes are no longer alone...
Differences from the Comic
- The drama features a lengthy opening narration by Bishop recounting the events of Aliens, including brief recreations of several scenes from the film.
- Bishop observes the UPP commandos as they search the Sulaco's hypersleep vault. In the comic, it is never suggested he is conscious or aware during this scene.
- Before the Sulaco docks with Anchorpoint, Jackson tries to contact the ship over the radio. When she receives no response, she connects to the ship's computer, learning of its mission to LV-426 and subsequent rerouting to Anchorpoint.
- During the initial sweep of the Sulaco, Welles additionally notes damage to the cargo bay floor caused by Ripley's duel with the Queen.
- Shortly after this, Welles goes on to search Lieutenant Gorman's quarters on the ship, finding a photograph of his wife or girlfriend. While this scene is not included in the comic, it is found in the unproduced script on which both are based. While searching, Welles hears noises in the ship's ventilation system, presumably the Drone born from Kurtz moving around.
- After the search of the Sulaco, there is a new scene in which Sterling tells the others about Kurtz's body while they wash in the decontamination showers.
- The flashback to Kurtz's death by Chestburster does not take place in the drama.
- Before Rosetti takes his message from Stoddart, he has Jackson look up details about LV-426. They find an entry for the moon, but discover all files relating to the colony Hadley's Hope have been deleted. Stoddart's message is also extended, and he specifically (albeit indirectly) informs Rosetti that continued funding of Anchorpoint depends on Fox and Welles being allowed to study the alien biological material there. He goes on to state that all non-essential personnel will be evacuated back to Earth aboard the Sulaco; in the comic, it is never implied there is anyone on Anchorpoint beyond the main cast of characters.
- Nevsky is male, whereas the character is a woman in the comic.
- In the drama, the scene where Walker and Sterling extract and replace the damaged cooling grid on the Sulaco is split into several parts, with other scenes taking place in between. In the comic, it is a single scene. The drama also has Walker in a Power Loader throughout the operation; while a Power Loader is visible in the background in the comic, Jackson is actually outside on the surface of the ship in a pressure suit.
- The drama includes a scene where Halliday helps Newt feed the birds in the eco-module. As they do, Halliday explains that Anchorpoint was originally designed around the eco-module and that it was planned to generate a self-sustaining biosphere there, but the project was abandoned when the station was mothballed. Hicks then joins them and Newt introduces him, before telling him of the vow of silence Welles has sworn her to regarding events on LV-426. This is another scene featured in the original script but omitted from the comic.
- Tatsumi is dressed in full protective clothing during the exchange with Chang, to protect him from any biological contamination on either Bishop of the body of Kurtz.
- During the accident in the lab, it is Welles who sees the spores emitted by the immature Egg, not Tully.
- As per Stoddart's earlier message, the Sulaco additionally evacuates a number of Anchorpoint's inhabitants when it leaves. Before it departs, there is an added scene in which Halliday puts Newt into stasis aboard the ship.
- After the Sulaco leaves, Rosetti has Jackson call Rodina out of concern for how their experiments with the Xenomorphs may be progressing. However, their call is not answered because the creatures have already broken out and are slaughtering the station's crew.
- This then leads into the scene where Chang is fighting the creatures loose on Rodina. The soldier fighting alongside her is never specifically identified in the comic, but the drama makes it clear it is DeSolis, her comrade from the boarding party that infiltrated the Sulaco at the start of the story.
- The scene where Hicks and the others arrive in the lab to destroy the samples is extended. When they inform Bishop of what they plan to do, Bishop additionally tells Hicks about Ripley's fight with the Queen aboard the Sulaco. He also warns the others that the UPP are almost certainly conducting their own experiments on the creatures. Finally, when Bishop points out he was about to destroy the samples himself, Spence asks why he didn't do it; Bishop humorously responds that he didn't do it because Hicks knocked on the door, interrupting him.
- The audio drama adds a scene in which Fox goes to his shuttle to recover his laser rifle once he has learned the Drone from the Sulaco may be on Anchorpoint. While there, Welles radios him to inform him an alarm has gone off in the lab (because the samples are being destroyed). When she asks why he is arming himself, he responds that they need to initiate a "total lockdown" on the station. At the end of the scene, after Fox leaves the shuttle, the Drone arrives and gets on board, foreboding its turning the vessel into a Hive later on. While this scene is not found in the comic, a much shorter version appears in the script, although it does not feature any dialogue, nor does the Xenomorph appear.
- In the drama, Welles slaps Spence when she finds the Xenomorph samples have been destroyed. In the comic, she tries to do this, but Spence blocks her before punching her in the gut.
- In the comic, Welles' transformation into a Hybrid is rapid, almost instantaneous. It is much more drawn-out in the comic, giving the witnesses time to discuss what is happening.
- Spence goes to search for Tully alone in the comic, but in the audio drama Halliday accompanies her.
- On the way to putting Ripley in the EEV, Bishop annoys Hicks with useless observations, leading Hicks to point out he was never this annoying on the Sulaco. Bishop retorts that Hudson used to find him amusing, which Hicks doesn't find surprising. When they put Ripley aboard the EEV, she briefly regains consciousness long enough to inquire about Newt before falling back to sleep.
- The Anchorpoint crew actually witness Fox destroying the remaining EEVs over the monitors in the command center.
- When the survivors on Anchorpoint discuss what to do about the burgeoning Xenomorph outbreak, Bishop points out that the creatures' pathogenic reproductive cycle is unprecedented, and suggests this kind of adaptability may be the key to their success as a species.
- The audio drama makes it clear the Xenomorphs on Rodina are Hybrids. In the comic and the script, they are depicted as regular Xenomorphs.
- When Chang finds the large Hive on Rodina, she radios DeSolis, who is elsewhere on the station, to inform him; in the comic, it is strongly implied everyone else on board is already dead or cocooned by this point. The scene is also substantially extended — Chang finds Rivera cocooned alive, and he tells her that he is infected and will soon turn into a Hybrid. He asks her to go to Anchorpoint and warn them of the dangers of experimenting on the Xenomorphs, before ordering Chang to mercy-kill him. She reluctantly complies, shooting him dead before moving on.
- While running for her interceptor to escape Rodina, Chang hears DeSolis die over the radio.
- Before destroying Rodina, the Nikolai Stoiko attempts to contact any survivors. Only when there is no response do they open fire. In the comic, they don't even bother to try and raise the crew, they simply nuke the station as soon as they arrive.
- After Rodina explodes, Bishop notices something moving away from the blast on the screens in Anchorpoint, suggesting it might be a ship (not realizing it is Chang in her interceptor). Hicks passes it off as debris.
- When the survivors notice Halliday has wandered off following Rodina's destruction, they try to raise her over comms. When they get through, she gives them a running commentary of what she sees in the eco-module, specifically the lemurs cocooned to the trees.
- The Hybrid's attack on Halliday is different — instead of leaping out of the undergrowth and pulling her into a pool, it slowly stalks towards her, but before it can attack, Hicks arrives and drives it off with the Suit Gun. As a result, Halliday survives the incident in the drama. This reflects the script, in which she also lives longer.
- The survivors' trek through Anchorpoint as they try to escape the station is generally longer. Among the additions are a scene where Jackson gets confused over which floor grating they need to enter to get to the shuttle bay. Walker works out which way they need to go, then unscrews the correct panel so they can progress.
- The service tunnels the crew move through are fitted with motion-activated lights. This is the same as the original script.
- Before he can enter the reactor control room, Bishop has to bypass a computer security lock, getting only three tries before he is locked out. First he uses his own access codes, then tries Rosetti's, before finally succeeding by invoking Fox and Welles' codes. A similar scene is found in the script.
- In the comic, the scene where Spence discusses her education with Tatsumi in the service ducts leads straight into him being attacked by the Hybrid. In the audio drama, the attack happens later and there is instead a new scene in which Hicks notices the automatic lights coming on behind them. He goes back and sets a grenade to try and kill whatever is following them, before hurrying back to the others and telling them to take shelter from the explosion. Although not in the comic, this scene is found in the script.
- There is another additional dialogue scene in the vents before Tatsumi is attacked, in which Hicks and Spence share a cigarette (despite the fact Spence doesn't smoke) and discuss his past as a Colonial Marine. Their conversation reveals the meaning of the term "bug hunt" heard in Aliens — the Marines are frequently called in to eradicate "redundant species" on planets slated for human colonization. This is another scene featured in the original script but omitted from the comic.
- After Tatsumi is bitten, Hicks gives him a cocktail of drugs to help dull the pain. The survivors then realise Halliday has gone missing during the confusion of the assault. Before they can go about looking for hear, they hear her screams echoing through the vents as she is either killed or taken. This reflects her fate in the script.
- When the survivors finally get out of the vents, Spence notices that the wound on Tatsumi's leg is leaking yellow puss.
- As the survivors near the shuttle bay, Hicks calls Bishop to check on his progress. Bishop responds that he is unlikely to make it to the shuttle in time as a result of the damage to his leg, and urges Hicks not to wait for him.
- When Hicks and Spence try to take off in the maintenance truck, a grapple snags on the hanger floor, preventing them from leaving. The Drone approaches and almost reaches them before the chain snaps, releasing the vehicle. This is how the escape plays out in the script.
- Once the survivors are aboard the UPP interceptor, Chang tries to contact her superiors on Earth, but is overcome by her radiation poisoning before she can get through.
- After Bishop confirms Hicks and Spence are not infected, he reveals that he was carrying a concealed pistol with which he intended to execute them if they started changing into Hybrids. While not in the comic, this is in the script.
- As the Kansas City takes them aboard, Hicks asks Bishop if Chang will live long enough to help open a dialogue between them and the UPP regarding the threat posed by the Xenomorphs.
- As with the previous audio dramas from Audible, Alien III uses Xenomorph sound effects from Alien: Isolation.
- Rosetti claims Hadley's Hope had a population of 159. It was actually 158, according to the Special Edition of Aliens.
- The UPP scientists note that Bishop's memory includes a "recorded image" of a Chestburster, yet Bishop never encountered one in Aliens.
- Tully states that Walker looked at the pressure problem in the bio lab incubators and found nothing wrong, but at the time he says it Walker has yet to return from fixing the Sulaco outside the station, meaning he can't possibly have examined the incubators as Tully claimed.