Alien: Houston replaced by the Solomons

leading from
a) Space port in the Solomon Islands?
Near the beginning of Alien,  Ripley attempts to hail Antartica Control over the galactic airwaves. "This is commercial towing vessel Nostromo, out of the Solomons".

We might ask where in the cosmos the Solomons might be as if we were to assume this is where the ship had just come out from there.

However later we find in a time line given in the Alien Quadrilogy set released in 2003 that a Space port established is in the Solomon Islands on planet Earth.

The information in this time line for the characters we would assume is at least partly based on Ridley Scott's notes for the character's backgrounds that was going to be included with the original Alien dvd but never was.

How much of the information is valid we don't know, because it includes additional information which would surely not have been included in Ridley's original notes.
b) Reference to King Solomon's Mines?
A question might be about whether the fact that the Nostromo is a mining vessel out of the Solomons is a straight reference to the book King Solomon's Mines Sir H. Rider Haggard?

Nostromo and Kings Solomon's Mines both are set in a world where they're searching for precious metals and were published at the turn of the 19th/20th Century within 20 years of each other and maybe who ever invented the Solomon Islands space port idea simply took the reference into a different context afterwards.

No one is supplying an answer.

c) Houston changed to Solomons
In 2009, Alien's editor Terry Rawlings allowed documentary maker Dennis Lowe to scan his editing script.

On page 8 of this copy of the script with extra information written in pen, Ripley is found to announce over the airwaves on the transmission unit, "This is commercial vessel Nostromo, out of Houston".

Although it was coming back from the another part of the galaxy beyond the outer rim, here scribbled in is the seemingly secret fact that reveals the Nostromo is being reported to have come out of a space port on Earth and so a quick idea was to add the name Houston and later a decision came to change it to the Solomons.

11 comments:

  1. Hello Wmmvrrvrrmm,

    The Solomons with its enigmatic name has long been a nice little mini-puzzle in itself. I enjoy your subtle conclusions.

    The film is pungent with Conrad's dark presence, maybe the literary inspirations went a little further. Could it be a salute to H. Rider Haggard's misanthropic-flavoured adventure novel 'King Solomon's Mines'?

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  2. Well thanks, it's another thing for me to have absolutely no clue about, why the Solomon Islands were chosen as a Space Port if that was the original idea. One might ask if there was something that someone read decades ago about the place ideally being developed for that. I find it absolutely confusing. Well, it's another thing that they probably wont ever get around to asking Ridley.

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  3. Here's the rub- I don't believe the revisionist timeline from 2003 has any bearing on the original decision, or its intent. I concur with your belief that in Ripley's original transmission, the Solomons was the point of departure from deep space rather than the destination.

    I just don't think Ridley liked the sound of 'Houston', with all the NASA baggage it brings. It just doesn't belong in the Alienverse. They had at least two attempts at the scene (I believe it was the first to be filmed, and was the one where Jon Finch fell ill, giving more time to refine the dialogue).

    There is something quite beguiling in the thought that Ridley Scott, grabbing for something with a little more gravitas whilst thinking of some location that had a mining reference, remembered the book and plugged the name into the script. It's actually a great story where greed and human spirit clash horribly. It even has a duplicitous 'Ash' cipher character...

    This is speculation on my part, of course.

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  4. The only thing about the Solomon Islands the Quadrilogy DVD is that we find out about the Solomon Islands space port as supposedly coming from Ridley's background notes but seemed unproven and doubtful because we think that they're stating that the Nostromo is "out of" somewhere in the depths of the galaxy after their mining expedition, but the only place with such a name is a gas or dust cloud rather than a place with planets. Then we get to the point where later Terry Rawlings script reveals the crucial information about the idea that originally the Nostromo was claiming to be from somewhere "out of" a known place on Earth and this Solomons place just so happens to be a place on Earth without knowledge of what was in Terry Rawlings script. I admit that I still can't actually claim to fully understand the context of "out of" in relation to Houston, so that is up in the air for me and I have to also say that I don't ultimately know what sort of names belonged and didn't belong in the Alien universe. So this is the only reason this seems to be the strongest reason for going along with the Solomon Islands idea. If Terry Rawlings copy of the script had not be shared publicly a couple ofyears back, there just wouldn't be any reason to go further with the Solomon Islands idea, I wouldn't believe it myself. It could be a coincidence. And anyway there isn't anywhere further for me to go until we can have a good look at Ridley's original character notes. But yes, it sounds as if it's a reference to King Solomon's Mines, people have asked that in the past in forums but ultimately no one knew, but I'd have find something else for me to add it into my scheme of things. I could add it as an afternote about how it has been asked, it is a valid question, but no one in the production could be asked about it.

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  5. Ultimately I'd rather give a disclaimer about the whole issue but the way the information has revealed itself in the way that I have written about it it seems perhaps either a coincidence or just the way it was, until someone reveals something more or at least gives us less trash.

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  6. I've got to thank you for your thorough answers, and apologise for waking up the peacefully sleeping dog that is the Solomons. I so enjoy your alternative perspectives on the Alien story and your wonderful art.

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  7. Thankyou Adrian, and I enjoyed your segment in Dennis Lowe's latest documentary, it was certainly a refreshing examination of Alien especially bringing to light certain questions about the characters such as Dallas which really ought to be looked at indeed. I admit that there isn't always a lot of blood circulating around a lot of these threads of discussion, it's almost like digging up fossils from beneath the ground but at least one can continue to care about the minutiae and it's important to keep digging away.

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  8. A Dennis Lowe encounter is an experience we both share- it was an opportunity too stunning to decline, even if in my heart I don't feel anywhere near qualified. I truly felt on tiptoes keeping company with people like you, Fred, Till and so many other talented and fascinating people included in the two Alien Fan features and others in the online community I hold in high regard like Valaquen.

    The only thing I could do was to open up completely to Dennis, tell the story and trust his instincts- it was a magical experience. I'm so glad that I have been able to bring something to the ongoing dialogue, in terms of characterisation, for you.

    I'd love to continue the discussions, here or in e-mail.

    In closing, I must add that Aspen Beer tastes good.

    Humbly yours,

    Adrian.

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  9. Well, I do my best to check the posts here so please keep posting if you have any thoughts, alternatively there is the Facebook page for this blog which I check as well. E-mail is becoming a thing of the past and the new e-msil program on OSX.7 isn't helping

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  10. My guess is that the Solomon Islands are a part of the "Three World Empire" or "Third World Empire" which is a Ron Cobb creation. This Empire is made up of the UK, Japan and "dozens of developing countries".

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  11. I wish we could interview Ron Cobb about all of this or go back to a time when Ron Cobb would have known all about this and interview him. It's almost frustrating. There seemed to be some lovely ideas briefly touched on in his interview in the pamphlet accompanying the badges

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