Whoa, the William Gibson Alien 3 Novel Is Based on a Different Screenplay

Pat Cadigan's adaptation uses a different version of the venerated sci-fi author's previously published work.

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The cast of Alien 3 faces off with a Xenomorph.
Stop staring and start running, you nitwits.
Image: 20th Century

Alien 3 has some issues. Even the movie’s most ardent fans have to admit this, given that it went through countless story, script, director, and editing changes, leaving what many feel is the most muddled of the four classic Alien films. Legendary Neuromancer author William Gibson was one of the (many) writers to give the script a go, but his work only saw the light of day as an audiobook and a comic by Dark Horse. Now, a novelization is on the way—but not the one you’d expect.

Alien 3: The Unproduced Screenplay by William Gibson, written by his friend and Hugo Award-winning novelist Pat Cadigan, is based on a different script Gibson wrote for the movie. Details are sparse—well, pretty much non-existent—but Cadigan did confirm the book is something new in an interview with Syfy:

“Anyone who wants to know how Bill came to write the two versions of the script and what happened to them should get hold of the Dark Horse graphic novel, which is based on a different version of the script than the novelization. It’s eye-opening!”


We won’t know how different until the book becomes available next month, but presumably, the two scripts hold some of the same DNA. I would suspect that includes Corporal Hicks (Michael Biehn) and Newt (Danielle Edmund, who only briefly appeared as Newt’s corpse in the movie) not only surviving but playing major roles in the story, as does the android Bishop (Lance Henrikson). There’s no way for me to coherently outline the plot for Gibson’s Alien 3 screenplay, so head over to Wikipedia for the full plot. Renny Harlin, who came aboard Alien 3 afterward, summed up the story as “Space commies hijack alien eggs—big problem in Mallworld” and tossed it out. (Harlin eventually tossed himself out as well.)

Cadigan describes Gibson’s script as “an original story; it’s true to the previous two films without rehashing them.” If you checked out the synopsis for the other script, you might be thinking that “true to the previous two films” is open for debate. Still, it’ll be fascinating to take an entirely new look at an alien 3 that might have been. See for yourself when Alien 3: The Unproduced Screenplay by William Gibson comes out on September 7.


Correction 9/2/2021, 10:02 a.m. ET: A previous version of this post misspelled Cadigan’s last name.

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