With PROMETHEUS bearing down upon us like a horny facehugger, there will, no doubt be those amongst us just as interested in all the wonderful hardware as the soft, squishy, and (most likely) DOOOMED crew of the eponymous vessel. Oh, just me?
With that in mind, let’s have a little look-see at PROMETHEUS’ dramatic forebears, starting with the MU-TH-UR of them all…
Length: 800 feet
Width: 540 feet
Height: 238 feet
Crew: Seven, plus Jones the cat.
Built and owned by Weyland-Yutani (boooo!), Nostromo was a big old space tug dragging an even bigger space refinery back to Earth. After taking an unhealthy detour to respond to a ‘distress call’, the DOOOMED crew unwittingly bring on board the first, eponymous Alien.
From the polished, sterile white environs of the crew’s habitat, to the grim, grimy and unfortunately dark and gloomy catacombs of its engineering decks, the Nostromo was by turns cosy and claustrophobic. And functional, too; for their ‘working’ scenes, each member of the cast had a set of buttons and lights to press; Person A would press a switch which turned on some lights on Person B’s console, prompting them to activate lights on Person D’s console and so on and so forth. Yeah, I know, pretty dull, but it shows the amount of work Ridley Scott and his crew put into the set design.
Pros: Solid, dependable. Could be run by even the most laconic of engineers.
Good medical and habitation facilities
Cons: Badly lit engineering sections, providing countless hiding places for unwanted passengers; awkward auto-destruct system with bitchy, pedantic AI; Bad food.
Final Fate: Blown up by Ripley in an attempt to kill the Alien.
Survivors: One. Well, three, technically.
Length: 53 feet
Width: 64 feet
Height: 24 feet
Crew: One. Plus the cat.
Nostromo’s shuttle-cum-escape pod, and the setting for the final battle 9well, the final game of strip-hide and seek0 between Ripley and the Alien. After blowing the stubbornly incumbent Xenomorph out the airlock and vaporising it with the engines, Ripley, and the cat, settle down for a little hyper-nap, only to wake up fifty-seven years later at the start of ALIENS.
Pros: Cosy. Perfect for curling up with the cat after a long day’s work.
Cons: Liable to drift off course and get lost for sixty years before they find you.
Final Fate: Probably scrapped.
Survivors: One. And the cat.
Length: 984 feet
Width: 164 feet
Height: 85 feet
Crew: Not really made clear
Transport and temporary lodgings for Ripley and the DOOOMED Colonial Marines, the USS Sulaco is a Conestoga-class starship capable of carrying up to 2,000 people (which might have given the whole thing better odds, really).
While much of the action takes place in the DOOOMED colony (okay, I’ll stop now) on LV-426, The Sulaco provides the arena for the final Smackdown between a power-suited and booted Ripley and one royally pissed off Alien Queen.
Little factoid for you: Sulaco is the name of a town in Joseph Conrad’s novel Nostromo.
Pros: Sturdy, functional military design; copious amounts of firepower – ASAT missiles, beam weapons, fragmentation mines; equipped with power loaders for shifting cargo and dealing with stowaways; good wireless access, provided you have a large enough satellite dish.
Cons: Poorly timed airlock doors (depending on your point of view); temperamental evacuation system – one teensy fire and you’re dumped on the nearest planet.
Final Fate: Unknown, as far as the films are concerned. Makes a short cameo at the start of ALIEN3.
Survivors: One. Two, if you count what’s left of Bishop.
Length: 12,000 feet
Width: 2,355 feet
Height: 2060 feet
Crew: 49 [not counting the clones]
Two hundred years later, it’s the United Systems Military’s turn to be DOOOMED (sorry). Harvesting Ripley’s DNA from Fury 161 (somehow) and using it to grow a series of new Ripleys (Riplies?) in the hopes of breeding Xenomorphs. You can see where this is going.
Pros: Thick armour plating; stealth run capability; excellent parking facilities; varied, functional recreation area, including weights and basketball hoops; extensive stores, ideal for a sneaky pillage; wheelchair accessible; courteous AI management system
Cons: Kitchens liable to flooding; poor anti-intrusion software.
Final Fate: Exploded in high atmosphere above Africa.
Survivors: Not made clear, since a few escape pods make it out. One for definite. (Guess who)
Length: ?? feet
Width: ?? feet
Height: ?? feet
Apparently older than Ripley (who’s pushing 250 by this point in the franchise), the Betty is a beaten up old cargo ship transporting kidnapped human colonists to the Auriga. Trapped on board when the Military-grown Aliens get wise and break out, our plucky anti-heroes make their through the Auriga, the final battle takes place in the Betty’s cargo bay.
Pros: Surprisingly durable; on board arcade; well-equipped machine shop; caters to physically, and mentally, disabled crew.
Cons: Rear hatch prone to jam, no matter how many times you fix it; novice pilots should avoid.
Final Fate: Presumably, patched up and sent back to work.
PROMETHEUS is in UK cinemas now.