Somehow Nikki and I have made it through over a decade of friendship and two years of creative partnership (Book Punks was born long before it went public) without her knowing about my deep and profound love for the Alien movies, and I just really wanted to make sure that you, dear readers, did not find yourselves in such an embarrassing situation as well! I will give you a short summation of my love for these movies:
a) I have been watching them obsessively since I was about nine or ten years old, and when I say “them” I mean the first two, and when I say the first two I mean that while I acknowledge that Alien is the superior film, it’s Aliens that I have voluntarily watched so many times that I can recite it by heart, more or less. I mean, it has Hicks and Hudson and the queen and “Get away from her, you bitch!” What’s not to love?
b) I named my cat after a character in Aliens. Her name is Newt, in case you are wondering, and yes I chose that name after I had a dream about the little girl of the same moniker one night shortly before I scooped her into my loving heart.
c) I have honestly considered getting a full back piece tattoo of the alien queen as she is when Ripley first sees her, all brooding and terrible like a giant spider.
So, now you know, but the real reason I am telling you this is because in keeping with this week’s mother theme, I’m going to tell you what I think Ripley should read. One of the major themes of Aliens is motherhood; Ripley learns early in the film that her daughter reached adulthood and died while she was hyper-snoozing away in space, and then her relationship with child survivor Newt sets that thwarted maternal instinct ablaze as she protects her from the biggest, baddest mama of all time, the queen. So really, there are two major mamas in the film, but I’m pretty sure the queen can’t read so this book list is for you, Ripley. (And also for Newt, because in my sunshine imagination Ripley would share books with Newt.)
A dear friend of mine helped me compile this list. She is a phenomenal human being, a kick-ass mom, and she named her daughter Ripley, so I thought she would be a choice consultant.
Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling: This is going to be the first thing that Ripley reads with Newt when they arrive safely at home without any tragic hypersleep mishaps and also let’s just pretend Alien 3 never happened. I’M NOT SAYING IT WAS BAD, but I just choose to watch up to Aliens and that’s it. Anyways, Not only is this book full of both strong females (I think Ripley would want Newt to look up to Hermione, don’t you?) but also with some badass moms. Harry’s mom sacrifices herself for him! Mrs. Weasley says NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU BITCH right before eviscerating Bellatrix LeStrange! THAT’S 87% THE SAME AS “GET AWAY FROM HER, YOU BITCH!” (As an aside, my friend who assisted me with this list VEHEMENTLY disagreed with this book choice. She thinks that, if Ripley were going to share a fantasy series with Newt, it would be The Lord of the Rings. I understand her reasoning, but I’m the one who wears the pants on this blog so WHAT I SAY GOES.)
Dawn by Octavia Butler: I know I have recommended this Butler to someone else before but back up off my nuts. This super uncomfortable novel about the end of the world and one woman’s chance to rebuild it hinges on said woman needing to agree to breed with aliens in order to do the savior thing. Maybe this would hit a little close to home for Ripley, especially if we don’t ignore the third and (ugh) fourth movies.
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote: OK so here is where my friend butted in and stated, very matter of factly, “Ripley would love some Capote.” I thought about it and thought about it, and yeah, the no nonsense Ripley would love to read this gripping, harrowing, and trailblazing account of murder most gruesome in Kansas. I mean, who knows better than she does how fucked up and evil human beings can be?
The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin: OK so I have a feeling that if Ripley got to go home and live happily ever after she would be sseeeeerrriiioooouuussssllyyyy disillusioned with the whole capitalism thing after the god damn fucking Company tried to kill her well, more than once in order to make big fat piles of cash off the perfect organism that is the alien. (As an aside, that scene in Alien with Bilbo Baggins’ head all covered in robot sperm talking about how beautiful the alien is is fucking baller). Anyways. I think that Ripley would love Le Guin’s sparse yet powerful writing, and this, her novel about an anarcho-communist planet, is my favorite and I think it would be Ripley’s, too.
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead: Let’s close this one out with another read along with Newt, because this INCREDIBLE book about a young girl growing up with a single mother in New York in the seventies is fucking superb, and super sneaky science fiction. I read this book years ago and there is this one part that is so haunting it still echoes in brain from time to time and here it is, the creepiest and yet most beautiful fictional found letter of all time:
“This is hard. Harder than I expected, even with your help. But I have been practicing, and my preparations go well. I am coming to save your friend’s life, and my own.
I ask two favors.
First, you must write me a letter.
Second, please remember to mention the location of your house key.
The trip is a difficult one. I will not be myself when I reach you.”
Sigh. Just opening that one up makes me want to read it for a third time.