Book: The Book of Alien


I try not to make my endorsements with histrionic zeal, but there’s no getting around this one. If you’re an Alien fan, you need to have The Book of Alien in your life. Returning to print for the first time in decades, just in time for Prometheus, The Book of Alien by Paul Scanlon and Michael Gross is an exhaustive collection of behind the scenes photos, early concept art, and stories from the cast and crew about the film that launched one of the most influential franchises in science fiction or horror today. About the only criticism I can really levy against it is that the book is overwhelmingly an art book, with barely ten pages of text in the entire thing. While I’d love for more personal insights into the film’s genesis and production, the art included with the book speaks volumes.

Surprisingly, there’s also some minor stuff in here that could very well connect to the upcoming Prometheus. In a sequence excised from the script at the last minute before shooting, the crew of the Nostromo, while investigating the distress beacon on LV-426 that brings them in contact with the xenomorph, stumbles upon an ancient alien temple, featuring hieroglyphics of the life cycle of the alien creatures. I’ve included some of those hieroglyphics, along with a choice quote about the temple, after the jump. Eagle-eyed readers may recognize some of the concept art as similar to what we’ve seen in trailers for Prometheus.

The Book of Alien hits stores May 29th, and I urge all you Alien fans gearing up for Prometheus to snag a copy.

As in the final version, the Nostromo‘s search party finds the derelict ship and the remains of its pilot. But that’s all, except the space jockey has managed to scratch the image of a triangle in his “dashboard,” apparently his last act. The searchers return to the ship, mystified. A short time later, the planetoid’s endless dust storm has briefly settled, and the crew can see a huge pyramid on the horizon. Another crew is sent to explore. They scale it, find an opening on top, and a volunteer lowers himself down the hatch.

He finds a giant chamber that seems like a tomb, or maybe a place of worship. There are weird statues and some sort of hieroglyphics (which later prove to be representative of Alien reproductive cycles). This, of course, is where the Alien spores lie waiting for someone to come along. 

The sequence offers a thoughtful contrast amonth three cultures: human, Alien, and the unfortunate space jockey. ‘The pyramid and the derelict -two different elements- were still the subject of a seesaw debate when I came on the project,’ Ridley Scott says. ‘I would love to have shot it, but the more I thought about it the more I realized it would have been wonderful in a three-hour version. What finally cracked it was the budget. We just had to get rid of it. And you know, sometimes financial practicalities force you to do a certain amount of editorial work, and I’m glad we simplified it.’