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An adventure in space

In the near future, mankind has taken its powers over nature into outer space. Men can now mine other planets; they have the ships to travel between them; the humans are frozen in time, as best can be done, during the long voyages. A ship returning from a mining expedition is sent to investigate a strange signal. As the ship approaches the planet whence the signal originated, the crew are awoken by the computer they call ‘Mother.’

The crew learns they have not returned to Earth. The mechanics complain that exploration is not their job. The scientist informs them their contract actually includes a clause to that effect. The officers leave to explore the planet seeking the origin of the signal. They find a large ship, almost intact, looking like a mechanic skeleton. On the main deck, they find the skeleton of a giant; & below, hundreds of eggs, one of which hatches & infests an officer.

Two further conventions are broken. The scientist first overrules the warrant officer & allows the infested human on board; he then tries to kill her – it is revealed he is a robot. Thus, the crew learns that the signal was not an SOS, but a warning. This is a curious, or at least a strange signal.

The humans are understandably terrified of the creature they witness. They find it implausible that they are treated as prey, but they find that they are unprepared to fight a predator. This may be a peculiarly human situation; the crew reacts hysterically, nevertheless plotting death. The dispassionate robot calls the monster the perfect organism, because it is the perfect killer – its very blood is an acid. Organ means function, work: The scientist implies the perfection of living beings is killing. This implies that life is war.

The predator is an alien to the crew, as perhaps all predators must seem to humans. It is hardly likely that the reverse is true. Being a predator may mean being at home anywhere in the world. The fact that it cannot survive in outer space anymore than humans suggests they may have been wise to stay on Earth. But although the predator itself does not seem rational, rationality is implied in the ship & signal where it awaited, so maybe rationality dooms humans to meet predators that may be beyond human powers.

It might seem a frivolous note, but perhaps the difference between the dead, broken giant & our heroine, the warrant officer, is that this woman seems to love cats, & risks her life to rescue the cat named Jones. The cat, of course, is not expected to reciprocate. The cat, of course, is itself a predator, if domesticated.

The original Alien movie, a fearful tale of man fighting monsters