An Audible Original Audiobook
Written by William Gibson
Full cast narration featuring Michael Biehn and Lance Henriksen
Length: 2 hrs and 16 mins
Publisher: Audible Studios
Release date: May 30, 2019
Alien III? Didn’t that already happen back in the ’90s? By no less than William Gibson, the author of Neuromancer?
Yes, Alien3 was and still is a thing. Possibly much to the chagrin of many fans of the franchise. But, before that happened, there was an attempt at a script written by William Gibson (father of see above). According to the Alien vs. Predator wiki, Gibson’s script was the first of 10 commissioned sequels to Alien and Aliens and was written in 1987 only to be re-written in 1988 and the studio accepted neither.
Ultimately, the 1988 script is what was uncovered in the last couple of years and came to life as a five-issue comic book arc last year as well as this audio drama.
The first major change that is obvious is that this story does not revolve around Ellen Ripley, the iconic character played by Sigourney Weaver throughout the original run of four movies. Instead, the focal characters are, at least in the beginning, the other three survivors aboard the USS Sulaco with Ripley — Colonial Marine Corporal Dwayne Hicks, the android Bishop, and the little girl Newt whom Ripley saved in Aliens.
When Bishop’s cryo-stasis fails, the upper half of his body (as you recall, he was torn in half by the alien queen at the end of Aliens) becomes aware of, but can do nothing about the fact that the Sulaco has drifted into territory controlled by the Union of Progressive Peoples (UPP). UPP Commandos board the Sulaco and one is immediately attacked by a facehugger that has been surviving inside Bishop’s severed torso. Once the attack is over, the UPP, assuming this to be some sort of biological attack on themselves by the Marines, recovers Bishop’s torso for a data dump, but sends the Sulaco and the remaining three residents on their way.
The Sulaco soon docks with the space station Anchorpoint where another attack occurs. Ripley’s cryotube is damaged resulting in her going into a deep coma (hence her lack of facetime in this drama), but both Hicks and Newt are awakened and otherwise unharmed. The remainder of the story focuses on the spread of alien matter throughout Anchorpoint and its disastrous results.
While I missed Ripley, I have to admit that having a story centered on Hicks and Bishop was pretty cool. They were, admittedly, two of my favorite characters from Aliens and I always wanted a more appropriate conclusion to their stories than what happened in Alien3. What made this audiobook even sweeter was that Audible managed to sign both Michael Biehn and Lance Henriksen to voice their respective big-screen characters in the drama. I loved that!
Unfortunately, despite having Biehn and Henriksen back in the saddle, Gibson’s Alien III script only rates as “interesting.” As a standalone space drama, it’s decent and worth a listen if you can separate it out from its predecessors. It has an intriguing new twist to the alien mythos, one that will easily tear the Alien fandom into either love-it or hate-it factions (based on the mixed reviews on Audible.com, it already has). But the drama itself was lacking the sense of impending doom of previous movies and I really didn’t latch onto any of the new characters like I have in just about every movie released under the Alien banner. Perhaps subsequent listens will fare better. Clocking in at 2:16, it would be pretty easy to give it another shot.