Joseph Conrad (born Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski; December 3, 1857 – August 3, 1924) was a Polish-born author who spent much of his life in England. He is regarded as one of the greatest English-language novelists ever to have lived, although he did not speak the language fluently until he was in his twenties (and always with a marked accent). He wrote stories and novels, often with a nautical setting, that depict trials of the human spirit in the midst of an indifferent universe. Perhaps the most well-known of his novels is Heart of Darkness, which was adapted into the famous Vietnam War film Apocalypse Now.
There is something of an ongoing tradition in the Alien franchise whereby spacecraft in the films and video games are often named after characters or elements taken from Conrad novels and short stories. The tradition was started by Alien director Ridley Scott (whose first major film, The Duellists, was an adaptation of Conrad's short story The Duel) when he named the ship in Alien the Nostromo as a reference to Conrad's novel of the same name.
References in the Franchise
The following ships in the Alien franchise have names that refer to the works of Joseph Conrad:
- Alien — USCSS Nostromo, named after the titular character in the novel Nostromo.
- Alien — Narcissus, named after the titular vessel in the novella The N*gger of the 'Narcissus': A Tale of the Sea (aka The Children of the Sea).
- Aliens — USS Sulaco, named after a town in the novel Nostromo.
- Alien3 — USCSS Patna, named after a ship in the novel Lord Jim.
- Aliens: The Female War — Kurtz, named after a major character in the novella Heart of Darkness.
- Aliens versus Predator 2 — USS Verloc, named after the protagonist in the novel The Secret Agent.
- Aliens vs. Predator — USS Marlow, named after the protagonist in the novels Heart of Darkness, Lord Jim and Chance, and the short story Youth.
- Aliens vs. Predator: Bradygames Official Strategy Guide — USS Fidanza, named after the titular character in the novel Nostromo (real name Giovanni Battista Fidanza).
- Aliens: Colonial Marines — USS Sephora, named after a ship in the short story The Secret Sharer.
- Alien: Isolation — USCSS Torrens, named after a real-life ship that Conrad served on.
- Aliens: Defiance — Europa, named after another real-life ship that Conrad served on.
- Alien: The Roleplaying Game - Heart of Darkness, an Alien RPG adventure module named after the novella Heart of darkness.
Additionally, the book Aliens: Colonial Marines Technical Manual and the video game Aliens: Colonial Marines both mention characters named Conrad, while the comic Alien 3: The Unproduced Screenplay features a character named Kurtz, referring to the novella Heart of Darkness. The comic book adaptation of Alien also opens with the Conrad quote, "We live as we dream — alone."
- Some of the June 1978 "Revised Final Draft" scripts for Alien, including Brian Johnson's personal one, contained the Conrad quote, "We live, as we dream — alone." in the first few pages. This quote was retained in the opening pages of the comic book adaptation of the film.
- The game Alien Swarm, which is heavily based on the Alien franchise, includes a character named Joseph "Sarge" Conrad. This seems to be a reference to how the Alien franchise frequently references Conrad's works.
- Najder, Z. (2007) Joseph Conrad: A Life. Camden House. ISBN 978-1-57113-347-2.