Saturday, February 28, 2009


Aliens is a terrific novelization. It's probably my second favorite (after Buckaroo Banzai, which I'll talk about eventually).

It helps that it's by Alan Dean Foster, who's written a million of these tie-in books (including Alien, which a lot of people like) and is really good at it. It's not unheard of for an established author to write a novelization or two (did you know that The Sword of Shannara's Terry Brooks wrote the novelization for The Phantom Menace?), but Foster has written bucketloads of regular sf at thesame time he's written bucketloads of movies. It occurs to me that I should stop buying my books in buckets. It's not as convenient as I thought it was going to be, and once I get the books on my shelves, I'm left with a garage full of buckets.

One reason I love the book version of Aliens is that I love the movie. When it came out, we didn't have these newfangled DVDs, and it was even considered a little fancy to purchase a movie on VHS. But I could happily reread the book and eventually litter my conversation with quotes. Many, many quotes. I have a friend who taped Aliens off HBO and watched the first segment of the movie (from the time the Marines wake up from cryosleep through about the time that Apone dies) every day for a few months.

Another reason is that this book has the deleted scenes in it. It's fairly easy to see them now, but at the time, all we had to work with was rumors of a cut that was shown on network television that had them. The book starts on the colony, with Newt's parents being the first ones to find the alien eggs. It also establishes that Newt and her brother were experts at the game of hiding in the air ducts and other hidden places in the colony, which helps explain how Newt survives.

It's a nice reminder that some movie novelizations are awesone.


Anonymous said...

Buckaroo Banzai !!!!! YES !!!!!
Someone who remembers my favorite. The sooner you talk about it, the happier I will be.

ArcLight said...

There's a lot of us who remember Buckaroo. Including the fine folks at Moonstone Books who've been putting out comics written by Buckaroo's creator for awhile now.

Saddle up!

J said...

Excellent blog. I've got a large box full of movie novelizations. I loved them back in the day for just the reasons you mentioned. Aliens was a fave, but another all time favorite was The Terminator, especially for the few deleted scenes (that finally wound up on DVD a few years ago, rejoice!). On an unrelated, totally dorky note, Allen Dean Foster also wrote "Splinter of the Minds Eye," a Star Wars novel which came out between Empire and Jedi in which Luke has retrospectively icky thoughts about Leia.

Anonymous said...

I owe you!

Matt said...

Terry Brooks also wrote the novelization for Hook...

Anonymous said...

I LOVED the Aliens novelization for a lot of the same reasons you mentioned (then again, I was also a huge Alan Dean Foster fan in junior high/high school). Another great one (at least, according to twenty year old memories) is Orson Scott Card's novelization of The Abyss. If you haven't read that one, I recommend it.


WhidbeyIslander said...

Let me second Sybylla in reccomending Orson Scott Card's "The Abyss." I think it is the greatest movie novelization every written. Period.

In the preface to the novelization, Card tells how production delays in the movie allowed him to revise the novel to very closely match the shooting script. He also had a chance to interview the actors so that his backstory about them matched and enhanced their motivations in the film.

Best of all, he answers the question, Why would Bud and Lindsey ever consider marrying one another?

Monty Ashley said...

I've actually got Card's novelization of The Abyss sitting on my Novelizations Shelf. But I've, um, never seen the movie. Which I know I should have. So I can't decide if I should watch the movie first or what.

WhidbeyIslander said...


It's so easy to get a copy of the movie, so what's the problem?

I'd say movie first. It's a visceral, visual, and audio experience. You can then hang faces, voices and personalities on Bud, Lindsey, Hippy, Catfish, and One-Night.

Then read the book, which adds backstory for Bud and Lindsey, and some internal dialog for the rest. The novelization is so close to the film that it's like watching again in your brain.