Time to add another version of Alien 3 to the pile. The first draft of the screenplay by famed sci-fi author William Gibson has been turned into a novel, to ponder yet more ways the horror movie could have turned out.
In 1987, Gibson was commissioned with writing a sequel to James Cameron’s Aliens. Known for high-concept cyberpunk works like Neuromancer, the writer penned several drafts, before eventually leaving the science fiction movie due to creative differences. One of those drafts has been made into a comic book from Dark Horse comics, now, another, earlier version has been fleshed out.
Alien 3: The Unproduced Screenplay by William Gibson is a novelisation of his first draft, converted by the Hugo Award-winning Pat Cadigan. A friend and peer of Gibson’s, she relished the opportunity to play around in the universe. “I enjoy writing novelisations – they’re challenging and fun – but this one was a special pleasure because Bill is not only a true friend and a colleague but brilliant and creative,” she told SyFy Wire. “His script is an original story; it’s true to the previous two films without rehashing them”
This particular story is more in line with Cameron’s action movie sequel, taking place on a space station called Anchorpoint. The Sulaco, Ripley, Hicks, and Newt’s ship from the end of Aliens, is taken by the Union of Progressive Peoples after it enters their airspace.
The humans are moved to Anchorpoint, while Bishop is taken elsewhere, but xenomorph experiments being conducted by the UPP force everyone back together. Even from that brief description, you can see broad ideas that made it into the finished Alien 3: using an isolated area for the setting, and finding some form of space tribe or colony.
The Alien 3 that made it to screens had these as a prison planet, with all-male inmates. Little else survived to the famously troubled David Fincher-directed theatrical cut. Between this book, the 2019 graphic novel, the theatrical release, and the director’s cut, Alien 3’s evolution appears to be ongoing.
As is the Alien franchise. Though Neill Blomkamp’s Alien 5 appears dead, an Alien TV show from Noah Hawley is in the works, and Ridley Scott is still working on his followup to 2017’s Alien: Covenant.
You can preorder Alien 3: The Unproduced Screenplay by William Gibson here. Aliens turned 35 this year, and you can celebrate that by picking up this NERF gun, or you can check out new multiplayer game Aliens: Fireteam Elite. Plenty of xenomorph action going around.