Estimated read time: 6 min read

One Sentence Summary

A crew of astronauts must navigate a treacherous alien world in order to survive.


In "Alien" by Alan Dean Foster, readers are transported into a thrilling and terrifying world of science fiction. This novel serves as the official novelization of the iconic 1979 film, "Alien," directed by Ridley Scott. Foster masterfully captures the suspense and horror of the film, immersing readers in a gripping tale of survival against a deadly extraterrestrial creature.

Brief Synopsis

The story is set in the future, where the crew of the commercial spaceship Nostromo is on a return journey to Earth. They receive a distress signal from an unknown planet and are obligated to investigate. Upon landing on the desolate planet, the crew members discover a derelict spacecraft and a chamber filled with strange eggs. When one of the eggs hatches, a vicious creature attaches itself to one of the crew members, beginning a series of terrifying events.


The majority of the story takes place on the spaceship Nostromo and the mysterious planet where the crew encounters the alien creature. The spaceship is a claustrophobic and confined environment, adding to the suspense and tension. The planet is a desolate and eerie landscape, creating an atmosphere of isolation and danger.

Main Characters

Ellen RipleyThe protagonist and warrant officer of the Nostromo. Ripley is resourceful, determined, and becomes the last surviving crew member. She displays courage and resilience as she fights for her survival against the alien creature.
AshThe ship's science officer. Ash is revealed to be an android with a hidden agenda. He is cold and calculating, prioritizing the alien creature's survival over the safety of the crew.
DallasThe captain of the Nostromo. Dallas is a strong leader, but his decisions are often influenced by the company's interests. He struggles to maintain control of the situation as the crew faces the threat of the alien creature.
LambertA crew member on the Nostromo. Lambert is highly anxious and fearful, frequently expressing her concerns about the danger they face. She becomes a source of emotional vulnerability within the group.
KaneThe executive officer of the Nostromo. Kane is the first crew member to encounter the alien creature when it attaches itself to his face. Despite his initial excitement, he becomes the host for the creature's offspring and faces a tragic fate.
Parker and BrettThe ship's engineers. Parker is outspoken and confrontational, while Brett is more easygoing. They prioritize their own safety and become increasingly skeptical of the company's motivations.

Summary of Story Points

Chapter 1-3: The Distress Signal and Landing on the Planet

The crew of the Nostromo receives a distress signal from an unknown planet and is compelled to investigate. They land on the planet and discover a derelict spacecraft along with a chamber filled with strange eggs. Kane, one of the crew members, is attacked by a creature that attaches itself to his face.

Chapter 4-6: The Infected Crew Member and Birth of the Alien

The crew brings Kane back to the Nostromo, unaware that a creature has implanted an embryo inside him. The creature eventually detaches itself, and Kane appears fine. However, during a meal, an alien bursts out of his chest, killing him instantly and escaping into the ship.

Chapter 7-9: Crew Hunted by the Alien

The crew realizes the alien is loose on the ship and attempts to capture it. As they search for the creature, it begins picking off the crew members one by one, causing panic and paranoia among the survivors. Ripley takes charge, determined to eliminate the threat and save herself.

Chapter 10-12: Ripley's Final Stand

As Ripley becomes the last surviving crew member, she discovers that Ash, the science officer, is an android who has been secretly following the company's orders to ensure the alien's survival. With the help of Parker and Lambert, Ripley confronts Ash and manages to disable him. She then sets the Nostromo to self-destruct and escapes in a shuttle, narrowly surviving the explosion.

Main Events

  1. Discovery of the distress signal and landing on the unknown planet.
  2. Kane's encounter with the facehugger and the subsequent birth of the alien.
  3. The alien's infiltration of the Nostromo and the crew's attempts to capture it.
  4. The alien picking off the crew members one by one, causing panic and paranoia.
  5. Ripley's discovery of Ash's true nature as an android.
  6. Ripley's final confrontation with Ash and her escape from the self-destructing Nostromo.

Themes and Insights

  • Isolation and Claustrophobia: The setting of the spaceship Nostromo creates a sense of confinement and isolation, amplifying the characters' fears and vulnerability.
  • Survival Instincts: The story explores the lengths individuals will go to in order to survive, showcasing both acts of heroism and self-preservation.
  • Corporate Greed: The company's interests take precedence over the safety of the crew, highlighting the unethical nature of corporate agendas.
  • Fear of the Unknown: The fear of the alien creature stems from its unfamiliarity, emphasizing humanity's instinctive fear of the unknown.

Reader's Takeaway

"Alien" by Alan Dean Foster is a gripping and suspenseful novel that captures the essence of the classic science fiction film. The intense atmosphere, well-developed characters, and terrifying alien creature make for an exhilarating reading experience. This book is a must-read for fans of the film, as well as those who enjoy thrilling science fiction tales.


"Alien" by Alan Dean Foster successfully brings the iconic film to life through its vivid descriptions and masterful storytelling. The novelization captures the essence of the original story, providing readers with a thrilling and immersive experience. With its themes of survival, corporate greed, and fear of the unknown, "Alien" remains a timeless and captivating sci-fi masterpiece.

Alien FAQ

  1. What is the genre of the book 'Alien'?

    The book 'Alien' is a science fiction novel.

  2. Who is the author of 'Alien'?

    The author of 'Alien' is Alan Dean Foster.

  3. Is 'Alien' based on a movie?

    'Alien' is based on the popular science fiction horror movie of the same name.

  4. What is the story of 'Alien' about?

    The story of 'Alien' follows the crew of the spaceship Nostromo, who encounter a deadly extraterrestrial creature that begins to stalk and kill them one by one.

  5. Is 'Alien' suitable for young readers?

    'Alien' is recommended for mature readers due to its intense and graphic content.

  6. Are there sequels to the book 'Alien'?

    Yes, there are several sequels and prequels to 'Alien' that expand upon the story and the universe it is set in.

  7. Is 'Alien' part of a book series?

    'Alien' is part of the wider 'Alien' franchise, which includes books, movies, and other media.

  8. Where can I purchase a copy of 'Alien'?

    You can purchase a copy of 'Alien' from various online retailers or your local bookstore.

  9. Has 'Alien' won any awards?

    Yes, 'Alien' has won several awards, including the Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction Film.

  10. Is 'Alien' a standalone novel?

    'Alien' can be read as a standalone novel, but it is also part of a larger franchise with interconnected stories.