Science Fiction Planets Dan O'Bannon's Alien Planet

About the planet described in the movie Alien by science fiction writer by Dan O'Bannon.



Location: Ten months from Earth traveling by faster-than-light spaceship, near Zeta II Reticuli; the planet is one of a number in an uncharted solar system.

Discoverer: Mother, the computer of the interstellar tug Nostromo, and the seven crew members: Dallas, Ripley, Kane, Parker, Lambert, Ash, and Brett. The Nostromo is towing a petrochemical cargo to Earth when the computer wakens the crew short of their destination to investigate an alien distress signal emanating from the unknown planet.

Book: Alien (1979) by Alan Dean Foster, adapted from the screenplay by Dan O'Bannon, which was based on a story by Dan O'Bannon and Ronald Shusett.

Description: The planet is slightly oblate, perhaps 1,200 km. in diameter, its gravity .86 that of Earth, making it fairly dense for its size, with a rotation period of 2 hr.; analysis by the computer indicates that it was once molten but is now cooled; composition of the rock is basalt and rhyolite, with occasional lava overlays but with no signs of current volcanic activity. The atmosphere includes inert nitrogen, some oxygen, a high concentration of carbon dioxide, and some methane and ammonia, much of it frozen; the weather is severely cold and windy most of the time; water content is high; vision is obscured by the murky air currents composed of dust, fine bits of rock, and vapor. Only one form of life is evident--an intelligent, highly adaptable, parasitic creature that begins life in a protected egg case, hatches upon contact with other forms of life, attaches itself to another creature, develops inside that creature into a second stage, kills its host and bursts forth into the surrounding atmosphere (of whatever composition), grows in size into a roughly man-shaped killing machine, then lays eggs to begin the cycle anew. In the novel, the crew of the Nostromo investigates the ruins of an alien spacecraft found on the planet. Kane is infected by one of the parasites, which terrorizes the Nostromo until the last survivor of the crew, Ripley, manages to destroy it. Neither crew nor reader is ever able to determine whether the alien arrived with the derelict craft or whether it was indigenous to the planet.

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