Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Alien III Audio Drama by William Gibson

Alien III Audio Drama
by William Gibson
2019, Audible

I owe Sigourney Weaver an apology.

I honestly don't remember how showbiz rumors get started or spread in the days before the internet.  I distinctly remember some friend telling me about the plans for the Star Wars prequels and sequels in the mid 80s, and was surprised later to learn how small the Extended Universe was at that point.

The word on the street in the early 90s was that William Gibson wrote an amazing script for Alien III, one that involved Hicks facing off a mass infection on planet Earth.  The rumor was that Weaver thought the script didn't focus on her enough, and since she was a megalomaniac movie star, they tanked that script and went with Jesus Ripley Christ sacrificing herself to save humanity.

Modern accounts are quite the opposite.  The plan was for there to be parts 3 and 4 shot concurrently, with Ripley barely being in 3 only to come back in 4.  Weaver wanted the smaller role, didn't think there was much left to do with Ripley's character, and only agreed to do Alien 3 if her character was killed off.

Gibson's first draft sounds pretty action packed, with a mass invasion in a space mall.  So, of course, the adaptations (a comic series and audio drama) are of his second draft.

Alien III has elements of the first two, only less of it.  Ripley, Hicks, and Newt are rescued by Weyland Yutani after another galactic faction of commies snatches up Bishop.  The xenomorphs infect members of the ship, there's a fight against the clock for a self destruct mechanism, all the while Ripley never wakes from her coma before being launched in an escape pod.

This one is explicit that the xenomorphs are biological weapons from a long extinct race.  Gibson also adds the wrinkle of the aliens being able to multiply by spraying spores in the air.  Given that the xenomorphs convoluted life cycle is central to the plot, this angle makes no sense and retroactively causes the other movies make no sense either.

The poorest of the Alien audiodramas I've heard.  As much as I love Michael Biehn, he was sounding pretty rough, and poor Lance Henriksen I just wanted to give a honey tea and give the man some rest.

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