Archivist’s note: much has been extrapolated about the universe of ALIEN since this was first posted on the internet. It does touch on some areas, however, that still bear further examination and is posted with that discussion in mind.
The Technology of the 22nd Century
The space administered by the Interstellar Commerce Commission (ICC) is vast. The huge, ugly hulls of FTL-capable ships are microscopic when compared to the distances they travel. In the harsh environments of new worlds, humanity relies on its advanced tools to survive more than ever before. The feats man’s hardware can accomplish seem near-miraculous: interstellar distances can be crossed within a year rather than decades; dead planets can be reshaped into Earth’s image. Despite – or possible because – of these feats, man is selfish and indolent, convinced of his superiority and control over more than three hundred worlds.
Probably the most major change in ALIEN is simply faster-than-light travel time. In 2122, the length of time it would have taken for the Nostromo to reach Earth from Thedus is unspecified. The only travel time we know for sure is the time Lambert calculated for the trip to Earth from the uncharted planet, after the Nostromo had used precious fuel and other resources for the return trip to the surface: ten months. From the crew’s reaction, this is an overly long delay (but still not quite as long as it sounds to the audience). Although this is an extreme example, it would seem safe to assume that interstellar distances are still vast. If the Nostromo had begun its journey, fully fueled and maintained, from a point equidistant from Earth to the planet, the trip could probably take between three to six months.
2122 already demonstrates a sophisticated level of automation aboard modern spacecraft of the era. This sort of automation seems to be standard aboard a complex space-going vessel. It is likely it has had a great effect on other areas of life, such as factories and other heavy industrial facilities. An ocean-going vessel the size of the Nostromo in the modern-day (Archivist’s note: an equivalent in both size and purpose is likely the Very Large Cargo Carrier class) would likely require a massive support crew, in addition to command staff, just to ensure the ship is kept running. The Nostromo has a standing crew of seven, only two of whom are technical/maintenance staff. Four crew are needed to effectively pilot the ship. The ship’s other functions appear to be handled by the central “Mother” A.I., who is almost an eighth crew member, albeit an invisible presence outside of the womb-like interface room.
- Robert Farquhar, at the long-defunct Aliens Cyberpunk 2020 website.