Aliens is significant for many reasons. It is a sequel which is in many ways superior to the original. It is an interesting document on the state of the Hollywood war film, and cements more sci-fi and horror cliches that possibly any other film of the eighties. There is much to be argued about the feminist position of Ripley here compared with Alien, the surrogate motherhood juxtaposed with the idea of the Alien Queen. But what really stands out about Aliens is that it has possibly the best novelisation of a film ever.

Alien was novelized by Alan Dean Foster, in what was still a pretty nascent genre. Back then it was not unheard of for novelizations to have scenes which weren’t in the films, ascribe hithertoo unkonown motivations to characters. Alien is okay as a novelization but since as readers we do not know who will survive, Foster rightly does not privilige any of the characters. In Aliens we have a heroine already in place, though Foster spends an awful lot of time developing his version of Newt as well. The themes touched upon above are investigated in much more depth as Foster delves into Ripley’s head. However the book never lets up on the suspense of the situation.

I was 13 when Aliens came out, and unable to see it since it was an 18 certificate. My local library had these novelizations though, and the version in my head surpassed the James Cameron one when I finally saw it. Newt was much more annoying and Ripley seemes a touch more distracted. It turned out that Foster worked from the original script, which has much more information than even the special edition (which restores many of the scenes in the book at the expense of pace). The book has the pace and the depth. These days novelizations are restricted to just describing what happens in the film, and parroting out the dialogue. Aliens, the Aliens in my head, is much better due to Foster.