Three Books to Impregnate You With ‘Alien’ Knowledge

Alien and Prometheus Movie Books

Tired of hearing about Prometheus? If your answer is yes, consider moving on. If you’re still coming to grips with the film or if you’re a huge fan of the Alien universe, then read on, because we get our dirty little mitts on three books that will take you deeper into the movies than ever before.

From Titan Books, Ridley Scott’s newest, Prometheus, gets a wonderful hardcover “The Art of the Film” treatment from author Mark Salisbury, while the original film is highlighted in the recently re-published The Book of Alien. Space Marines, form up, as the stars of James Cameron’s installment are highlighted in the re-published Aliens: Colonial Marines Technical Manual.

The Book of Alien

From authors Paul Scanlon and Michael Gross, this book, originally published in 1979 (and then again in 1993, and now once more in 2012), is a must have for any fan of Alien. It’s not an in-depth tome by any stretch of the imagination, but the pages are chest-bursting with still images, behind the scenes photos, and conceptual drawings.

The Book of Alien is well balanced between the various aspects of the film – designing the sets, filming the gigantic space models, and diving into the creation of the aliens themselves, with plenty of awe-inspiring and gut wrenching drawings from H.R. Giger. If you dig the first film, you simply must own this book.

Aliens: Colonial Marines Technical Manual

As a big army nerd, I was most excited to hear that Lee Brimmicombe-Wood‘s long out of print technical manual was being reissued by Titan Books. Weighing in at a hefty 160 pages and stuffed to the brim with technical drawings, schematics, and photos, this cleverly constructed book gives you an insight into the making of Aliens while expanding the universe around the Colonial Marines.

The manual goes far beyond the movie, with quotes from Marines, diagrams of troop movements and maneuvers, and from the field reviews of weapons and their shortcomings, including the Smart Gun. There’s stuff in here that never saw the light of day in the film, from heavy mobile artillery to M83A2 SADAR system.

Consider this essential reading if your favorite film of the franchise is Aliens or if you’re a fan of the off-shoot games. Fans of fake military history and technical drawings will find plenty to love here as well, with this book being similar in style to the popular Star Wars: Technical Journals.

Prometheus: The Art of the Film

Detractors and fans of Ridley Scott‘s Prometheus all seem to agree on one thing: it looked damn impressive. Any film with stunning visuals and extensive production designing is deserving of an “Art of” treatment – think about all the work that goes into location scouting, costume design, set design, and all the little cool things you’d never notice without someone pointing them out.

Although, the book can also be a little bit maddening – with so many beautifully detailed things, why weren’t they featured more! You may have noticed some beautiful red ECO suits in the flick that somehow tragically remain unused. Ridley Scott was as enamored with them as I was, though since he directed the film and I didn’t, he gets one in his office while I just get a concept drawing in a book. Tough.

The Art of the Film provides wonderful insight into the film, highlighting just how much thought went into creating the world – which is maddening again, since a lot of what the book highlights didn’t translate through in the flawed film.

If you liked Prometheus, this will be a beautiful addition to your collection, while the Prometheus haters might want to flip through it as well and find a few answers. I don’t think it will make you like the movie more, but rather it might make you wish the movie was better.

Standing alone, The Art of the Film is a great collection of photos, drawings, diagrams, and storyboards, which provides a good introduction to the sheer amount of work, thought, and effort goes into making a movie of this scope. Whether it’s modeling the planet, designing sequences, creating the sets, or conceptualizing and building the alien creatures themselves, the book does a good job of showing the creative process, as well as throwing in sneaks at a few things that didn’t quite make the final cut of the film.

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Robert Fure is many things: horror expert, ruggedly handsome man of the world, witty prose composer, and writer of his own biography page. Beneath the bravado is a scared little boy, ready to grow into an awesome man and make lies about a scared little boy inside of him. Wait a minute...

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