<INTERFACE 2037 READY FOR INQUIRY>
To mark this 40th anniversary of the release of ALIEN (1979), I want to share something with you that I recently added to my collection: a newspaper ad, something that would have caught my attention because it matched the artwork on my dog-eared copy of the Alan Dean Foster novelization!
Alien did not make its way to my part of the country until June 21, 1979. When it finally arrived, I was firmly seated in Cinema I of the Charles Cinema, in Lake Charles, Lousiana.
My youthful imagination worked overtime upon reading these passages from Foster’s novelization:
Something not quite as thick as the beam the engineering tech had just passed under reached downward. It descended in utter silence and conveyed a feeling of tremendous power held in check. Fingers spread, clutched, wrapped completely around the engineer’s throat and crossed over themselves. Brett shrieked, both hands going reflexively to his neck. For all the effect his hands had. on them, those gripping fingers might as well have been welded to gether. He went up in that hand, legs dancing in empty air. Jones bolted beneath him.
The cat shot past Ripley and Parker, who’d just arrived. They plunged unthinking into the equipment bay. Soon they were standing where they’d seen Brett’s legs flailing moments before. Staring up into blackness, they had a last brief glimpse of dangling feet and twisting torso receding upward. Above the helpless figure of the engineer was a faint outline, something man-shaped but definitely not a man. Something huge and malevolent. There was a split- second’s sight of light reflecting off eyes far too big for even a huge head. Then both alien and engineer had vanished into the upper reaches of the Nostromo.
Dallas, in the vents:
He rose, not seeing the massive, clawed hand rising slowly from the catwalk under him. The groping paw just missed his left foot as he continued on ward. It drifted back beneath the walkway as silently as it had appeared.
Dallas had walked halfway to the end of the chamber. Now he stopped. “Is that better, Lambert? I’ve moved. Am I registering any clearer now?”
“It’s clear, all right.” Her voice was strained. “But I’m still getting a double signal, and I think they’re distinct. I’m not sure which one is which.”
Dallas whirled, his eyes darting around the tunnel, canvassing ceiling, floor, walls, and the large shaft opening he’d just emerged from. Then he looked back down the catwalk to die repair junction, his gaze settling on the spot where he’d been sitting just seconds ago.
He lowered the nose of the flamethrower. If he was now the front signal, having moved down the catwalk, then the cause of the double signal ought to be . . . his finger started to tense on the incinerator’s trigger.
A hand reached up from below and behind, toward his ankle.
The alien was the front signal.
Ripley stood alone by the duct, watching it and thinking of the open airlock standing ready nearby. There was a distant ringing sound. At first she thought it was inside her head, where funny noises often originated. Then it was repeated, louder, and followed by an echo this time. It seemed to be coming from deep within the shaft. Her hands tensed on the flamethrower.
The ringing ceased. Against her better judgment she moved a little closer to the opening, keeping the nozzle of the flamethrower focused on it.
There came a recognizable sound. A scream. She recognized the voice.
Forgetting all carefully laid plans, all sensible procedure, she ran the rest of the way to the opening. “Dallas … Dallas!”
After reading this stuff, I had nightmares of grasping hands, moving silently from the dark corners of my room!
The story goes that details about the creature were not included in his book since Foster was working on the novelization early in the production. Even so, I’m glad it was left to the imagination… isn’t that always the best way to grip our attention, rather than spelling things out, ad nauseam?
Very special thanks to Naomi Guidry, of the Lake Charles American Press news staff, whose persistence and deft hand with an archive produced this gem for my vault of good memories!
Credit for passages quoted above: Foster, Alan Dean, et al. Alien. Warner Books, 1979. Pp. 205, 225-226.
<INTERFACE 2037 DISCONNECT>