Aliens is a 1986 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 William Hope and published by Audible Studios.

Publisher's Summary

Now there's a whole planet of them, waiting...

Ripley is going back... the sole survivor of the terror that struck her space comrades years ago, she now steels herself to help lead an expedition to the hell she once escaped.

For on a planet far from Earth, alien beings swarm, hungry for the human face, ready to make the human race their nesting ground. Here waits the ultimate nightmare of Alien, hundreds of times stronger, more insidious, and practically invincible.

Here Ripley must re-enter a world of sudden, unspeakable horror... one that attacks without warning again and again and again.

Differences from the Film

The novelization of Alien contained numerous differences when compared with the film version. However, these differences are ignored in the Aliens novelization, and the book instead follows on from events as they occurred in the first film. Most notably, the creature designs all match those seen in the movies, as opposed the creatures in the Alien novel which had some significant differences. Also, the manner in which Ripley dispatched the Alien, mentioned at the inquest aboard Gateway Station, is retconned to match the creature's death in the film; the novelization of Alien had her impale it with a metal pole rather than shoot it a grappling gun.[1]

The scenes added to Aliens in its extended Special Edition are all featured in the novelization as they were not cut until just before theatrical release. This includes the pre-infestation scenes at Hadley's Hope,[2] Hudson's cocky bragging before the team arrives on Acheron[3] and the sentry gun scenes.[4] However, the frequent coarse language present in the film is notably almost entirely edited out in the book. Other differences include:

  • On Gateway Station, Ripley first wakes lying in a tropical rainforest before realizing it is a hologram being projected inside her hospital room.[5] She also recognizes the space station, whereas in the film it has been built during the time that she has been missing.[6]
  • Burke elaborates a little on Amanda's death, telling Ripley that she died of cancer.[7]
  • At her tribunal, Ripley insists that the lack of evidence regarding the Alien recorded on the Narcissus' black box must mean somebody has tampered with the device.[8] While they deliberate on her fate, the board makes her wait outside and Burke buys her coffee and donuts.[9]
  • Newt is around 12 years old in the film.[10] The novel states she is only 6.[11]
  • In the film, Ripley clearly presses on with her life following the suspension of her flight status at the tribunal, despite her recurring nightmares. However, in the novel she becomes significantly depressed and introverted, living in a squalid apartment piled high with dirty laundry and dishes.[12] She is also quite rude to Burke and Gorman when they come to see her. Evidently she is far more damaged in the novel than the film. Additionally, the novel makes it clear her apartment is in fact on Earth, not Gateway.[13] The film is unclear on its location.
  • Ripley realizes Bishop is an android immediately after she wakes up when she notices an identification number stenciled onto his hand, although she still does not confront him about it until during breakfast in the mess.[16] The knife scene that introduces the character in the film does not take place in the book.
  • The Power Loader is a four-legged "elephant"-like vehicle rather than a humanoid exosuit.[17]
  • Early on it is clear both Burke and Gorman do not expect the problems at Hadley's Hope to be a simple communication issue, information that they do not share openly with the other Colonial Marines, possibly implying they are operating under their own agenda (or, more likely, Burke's agenda).[18] It is later confirmed that Burke arranged for the inexperienced Gorman to be placed in charge of the mission.[19]
  • The APC has six wheels instead of four.[18]
  • The USCM armor is more bulky and suit-like, and includes a backpack and a visor over the face.[20] Additionally, the non-combatants also wear environment suits on Acheron to combat the cold and harsh weather[21]
  • The dropship does not plummet violently towards the planet at high speed as in the film. Rather it departs the Sulaco slowly and flies down to the surface like a traditional space shuttle.[22]
  • There are over thirty Atmosphere Processors spread across Acheron, as opposed to the single device at the colony in the film.[23] This concept was notably revisited in the novel Alien: River of Pain, which is also set at Hadley's Hope.
  • The Marines find that the main colony lock has been blocked from the outside with two tractors.[24] Inside, many of the rooms have been burned, presumably when the colonists attempted to incinerate the Xenomorphs, and they also find blood stains on the walls.[25]
  • While the novel follows on from the film version of Alien rather than the novelization, it still makes reference to the scene cut from the first film (but included in the book) where Ripley discovers Dallas and Brett cocooned in the Nostromo's hold; she remembers these events while watching the Marines enter the Acheron Hive.[26]
  • The Hive's structure includes all manner of detritus from the colony in its construction, including human bones.[27] Several colonists are still alive inside, as opposed to the single woman in the film. Some of them have had limbs broken to allow them to be molded into the walls, and several of the dead colonists have apparently been eaten by the Xenomorphs.[28]
  • The ambush in the Hive contains several differences. Most notably, the confiscated Pulse Rifle ammunition does not explode and instead of being killed by the explosion, Crowe is dragged away alive to be a host.[29] Apone is killed outright, but before this he begins handing Pulse Rifle ammunition out to the other Marines, giving them a chance to defend themselves.[30] During the escape, Gorman is attacked by a Xenomorph clinging to the outside of the APC, which stings and paralyzes him with its tail, rather than being knocked out by loose crates.[31] Hicks mans the APC's mounted turret and uses it to kill the Xenomorph responsible.[31]
  • When discussing what to do on board the APC following the ambush, Burke tries at length to convince Ripley not to exterminate the Xenomorphs, going into much greater detail regarding their scientific value and what the discovery could do for Ripley and himself financially should they bring them to Weyland-Yutani.[32]
  • When Ripley is putting Newt to bed in the med lab, the novel briefly mentions that Ripley was married to Amanda's father, but that they got divorced after she was born.[33] Newt specifically asks Ripley if she can be her surrogate daughter.[34]
  • Bishop likens the Xenomorph hierarchy to an ant or termite hive and theorizes about the existence of a ruling Queen.[35] While similar dialogue is in the extended Special Edition of the film, it is said by Hudson, not Bishop. Additionally, Bishop proposes Royal Jelly may play a part in creating a Queen at the Egg stage.[36]
  • Bishop reveals that the damaged wiring preventing the survivors from contacting the Sulaco using the colony's uplink was severed during the fighting with the Xenomorphs, presumably in the early stages of the outbreak, thereby explaining why the colony never called for help.[37]
  • The survivors hear the Xenomorphs eventually break through the sealed door after they overrun the first sentry gun position, thereby signalling that the creatures are now inside the complex.[38] This scene was filmed for the movie but ultimately removed from both cuts.
  • As he crawls through the conduit towards the colony's uplink, Bishop sees a Xenomorph through a hole in the side of the pipe. It lunges at him, but when he freezes in place it loses interest.[39] He subsequently theorizes that movement and some other unidentified facet of the human body may be what the Xenomorphs use to detect their prey.
  • During the large assault on the operations center, the Marines use flamethrowers to help fight off the attack, whereas in the film they only use their Pulse Rifles.[40] As a result, the fire alarm and sprinkler system activate, adding to the chaos. When Hudson is dragged through the floor, he is taken so quickly the others do not even have a chance to try and save him; Hicks fires a burst of gunfire into the hole in the hopes of killing Hudson rather than letting him be taken alive.[41]
  • Burke is stung and paralyzed by the Alien that attacks him, like Gorman.[42]
  • The survivors fleeing operations get trapped between two groups of Xenomorphs in the ventilation ducts and Hicks has to cut through the side of the duct with his blowtorch so that they can escape into an adjacent corridor.[43]
  • When Newt slips down the shaft into the sewers, Ripley blindly dives after her but ends up in a different part of the complex when the shaft forks into two.[44] This leads to the scene where Ripley and Hicks try to cut through the floor to reach Newt.
  • While searching for Newt in the Hive, Ripley discovers Burke cocooned and impregnated with a Chestburster, and she gives him a grenade with which he can commit suicide before moving on.[45] This was another scene filmed but cut from all versions of the movie.
  • The Queen is attended to by small, albino Xenomorphs called Drones (not to be confused with the Drone caste from the films). These creatures move the Eggs in the Hive once the Queen has laid them, and they completely ignore Ripley as they go about their duties.[46]
  • There is no "negotiation" between Ripley and the Queen as in the film; instead she simply opens fire as soon as she sees the creature.[47]
  • Ripley has to climb out of the Hive using ladders and stairs as the lift takes too long to reach her.[48] In the film, she makes for a ladder, but the arrival of the Queen makes her retreat to the lift again.
  • When she is cornered by the Queen on the deserted landing pad, Ripley climbs over the railings, intending to throw herself to her death, along with Newt, rather than face the Queen's wrath.[49]
  • The final showdown on board the Sulaco is somewhat different. The Queen damages the Power Loader's hydraulic oil hoses, making it fell over, and then tries to reach Ripley, but the latter activates the machine's flamethrower and burns its face. The Queen then falls into the open Dropship drop bay while dragging the Power Loader after her.[50] She is crushed by the heavy machine, and the spilled blood begins to eat through the drop bay hatch. Ripley escapes as the hangar begins venting, sealing the inner door and watching through a small window as the outer hatch finally gives way and the Queen is sucked out into space.[51] The Queen herself plummets back to the surface of Acheron rather than drifting away into space as in the film.[51]


Aliens audiobook

Aliens audiobook.

In 2015, Audible Studios produced an unabridged audiobook of Alan Dean Foster's novelization, read by actor William Hope (who played Lieutenant Gorman in Aliens). The audiobook runs for 9 hours and 47 minutes and was released on December 10, 2015, alongside similar audiobooks of Alien, Alien3 and Alien Resurrection (also read by Hope).


See Also


  1. Alan Dean Foster. Alien, p. 279 (1979), Warner Books.
  2. Alan Dean Foster. Aliens, p. 40 (1986), Warner Books.
  3. Alan Dean Foster. Aliens, p. 91 (1986), Warner Books.
  4. Alan Dean Foster. Aliens, p. 195 (1986), Warner Books.
  5. Alan Dean Foster. Aliens, p. 13 (1986), Warner Books.
  6. Alan Dean Foster. Aliens, p. 16 (1986), Warner Books.
  7. Alan Dean Foster. Aliens, p. 24 (1986), Warner Books.
  8. Alan Dean Foster. Aliens, p. 28 (1986), Warner Books.
  9. Alan Dean Foster. Aliens, p. 32 (1986), Warner Books.
  10. Vincent Ward (writer), David Fincher (director). Alien3 (1992), 20th Century Fox [DVD].
  11. Alan Dean Foster. Aliens, p. 48 (1986), Warner Books.
  12. Alan Dean Foster. Aliens, p. 55 (1986), Warner Books.
  13. Alan Dean Foster. Aliens, p. 57 (1986), Warner Books.
  14. Alan Dean Foster. Aliens, p. 67 (1986), Warner Books.
  15. Alan Dean Foster. Aliens, p. 70 (1986), Warner Books.
  16. Alan Dean Foster. Aliens, p. 72 (1986), Warner Books.
  17. Alan Dean Foster. Aliens, p. 84 (1986), Warner Books.
  18. 18.0 18.1 Alan Dean Foster. Aliens, p. 87 (1986), Warner Books.
  19. Alan Dean Foster. Aliens, p. 95 (1986), Warner Books.
  20. Alan Dean Foster. Aliens, p. 90 (1986), Warner Books.
  21. Alan Dean Foster. Aliens, p. 113 (1986), Warner Books.
  22. Alan Dean Foster. Aliens, p. 93 (1986), Warner Books.
  23. Alan Dean Foster. Aliens, p. 100 (1986), Warner Books.
  24. Alan Dean Foster. Aliens, p. 104 (1986), Warner Books.
  25. Alan Dean Foster. Aliens, p. 108 (1986), Warner Books.
  26. Alan Dean Foster. Aliens, p. 144 (1986), Warner Books.
  27. Alan Dean Foster. Aliens, p. 145 (1986), Warner Books.
  28. Alan Dean Foster. Aliens, p. 150 (1986), Warner Books.
  29. Alan Dean Foster. Aliens, p. 174 (1986), Warner Books.
  30. Alan Dean Foster. Aliens, p. 158 (1986), Warner Books.
  31. 31.0 31.1 Alan Dean Foster. Aliens, p. 168 (1986), Warner Books.
  32. Alan Dean Foster. Aliens, p. 184 (1986), Warner Books.
  33. Alan Dean Foster. Aliens, p. 207 (1986), Warner Books.
  34. Alan Dean Foster. Aliens, p. 208 (1986), Warner Books.
  35. Alan Dean Foster. Aliens, p. 211 (1986), Warner Books.
  36. Alan Dean Foster. Aliens, p. 212 (1986), Warner Books.
  37. Alan Dean Foster. Aliens, p. 230 (1986), Warner Books.
  38. Alan Dean Foster. Aliens, p. 231 (1986), Warner Books.
  39. Alan Dean Foster. Aliens, p. 242 (1986), Warner Books.
  40. Alan Dean Foster. Aliens, p. 272 (1986), Warner Books.
  41. Alan Dean Foster. Aliens, p. 274 (1986), Warner Books.
  42. Alan Dean Foster. Aliens, p. 277 (1986), Warner Books.
  43. Alan Dean Foster. Aliens, p. 282 (1986), Warner Books.
  44. Alan Dean Foster. Aliens, p. 286 (1986), Warner Books.
  45. Alan Dean Foster. Aliens, p. 301 (1986), Warner Books.
  46. Alan Dean Foster. Aliens, p. 304 (1986), Warner Books.
  47. Alan Dean Foster. Aliens, p. 305 (1986), Warner Books.
  48. Alan Dean Foster. Aliens, p. 306 (1986), Warner Books.
  49. Alan Dean Foster. Aliens, p. 308 (1986), Warner Books.
  50. Alan Dean Foster. Aliens, p. 315 (1986), Warner Books.
  51. 51.0 51.1 Alan Dean Foster. Aliens, p. 317 (1986), Warner Books.