Alien 3: William Gibson’s original first draft adapted into terrifying novel

Alien 3: The Unproduced Screenplay bookjacket - Courtesy of Titan Books
Alien 3: The Unproduced Screenplay bookjacket - Courtesy of Titan Books /

It’s a good time to be an Alien fan with the upcoming FX series in the works and now the release of William Gibson’s never-before-adapted screenplay for Alien 3, which would have been a direct sequel to Aliens.

Gibson’s draft of Alien was previously adapted into a graphic novel. Still, the new book from Hugo Award-winning author Pat Cadigan works from a much different and earlier draft screenplay. For the first time, Gibson’s original story is being told in novel format.

In this story, the Colonial Marines vessel Sulaco docks at Anchorpoint, where Bishop hears rumors of dangerous experimentation that could create a monstrous hybrid and potentially even a Queen.

Alien 3
Alien 3: The Unproduced Screenplay bookjacket – Courtesy of Titan Books /

Alien 3: The Unproduced Screenplay synopsis

Here is the official synopsis, courtesy of publisher Titan Books:

"The Sulaco—on its return journey from LV-426—enters a sector controlled by the “Union of Progressive Peoples,” a nation-state engaged in an ongoing cold war and arms race. U.P.P. personnel board the Sulaco and find hypersleep tubes with Ripley, Newt, and an injured Hicks. A Facehugger attacks the lead commando, and the others narrowly escape, taking what remains of Bishop with them.The Sulaco continues to Anchorpoint, a space station and military installation the size of a small moon, where it falls under control of the military’s Weapons Division. Boarding the Sulaco, a team of Colonial Marines and scientists is assaulted by a pair of Xenomorph drones. In the fight Ripley’s cryotube is badly damaged. It’s taken aboard Anchorpoint, where Ripley is kept comatose.Newt and an injured Corporal Hicks are awakened, and Newt is sent to Gateway Station on the way to Earth. The U.P.P. sends Bishop to Anchorpoint, where Hicks begins to hear rumors of experimentation—the cloning and genetic modification of Xenomorphs."

Alien 3: The Unproduced Screenplay review and thoughts

As fans of the Alien franchise know, Alien 3 has often been considered a controversial film in the series. Some think the David Fincher-directed film is excellent, and others believe it was where the films started to take a turn for the worse. But most people know that the film had a long and complicated development process with multiple screenwriters and directors attached at different times.

That’s why it’s so exciting to see what many believed would have been the superior script resurface after years locked away. I mean, yes, we have seen iterations of it in the graphic novel version and even in an audio drama, but it’s nice to have a well-written book in hand to tell Gibson’s original story.

What I appreciated so much about this book is that it’s ambitious and just flat-out entertaining. It feels just as good as Aliens, a movie that many feel is the rare sequel that is just as good as, if not better, than the original film. They couldn’t have had a better author to bring this script to life, as Cadigan obviously holds a great deal of reverence for her friend and fellow creator Gibson.

By reading this book, and yes, it is an actual novel, not a screenplay, it’s clear why the studio might have been hesitant to move forward with this version as Ellen Ripley takes on a much different role that I won’t spoil. When the movies were coming out, Sigourney Weaver and her character were pretty much the face of the franchise, and in this version, she steps aside to let newer characters move to the forefront.

But that’s what makes the story more exciting (and I don’t mean that as an offense to Ripley, who is obviously an iconic character), it’s really close to a direct continuation of Aliens and yet introduces exciting and downright terrifying prospects for the future of this franchise and the Xenomorphs in general. It’d be cool if we did get to see this version come to life on the big screen one day.

It does feel a little over-the-top in some moments and would probably need to be revised a little for a movie version to be made, but Alien 3: The Unproduced Screenplay has all the entertaining and horrifying elements we’ve come to expect from the series while also taking the Xenomorphs in an interesting new direction.

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You can purchase Alien 3: The Unproduced Screenplay on Amazon or anywhere you buy books. It is available in ebook format, hardcover, and audiobook format.