chapter  7
16 Pages

The Gothic in space

Genre, motherhood, and Aliens (1986)
WithFrances A. Kamm

A scanning laser injects a blue haze into the space, illuminating the ethereal-looking smoke that emanates from the blowtorch’s incision. The quiet terror of Rebecca is evidently light years away from the ‘sledgehammer action’ of Cameron’s space war. Aliens sets its main narrative action on a distant planet, the remote location of which is further underlined by an emphasis on details such as hypersleep, spaceships, and the Company’s colonial ambitions to ‘Build Better Worlds’. The darkness and vastness of space is visually translated into the interior of the ship, rendering the place ‘anisotropic’, just like the Gothic castle, which is ‘literally or metaphorically, larger inside than outside’. In a science fiction-inspired reimagining of the archetypal Gothic heroine investigating the labyrinth space of a dark house or castle, illuminating the gloom with a candelabra, Ripley manoeuvres through the convoluted corridors and stairwells, blasting her flamethrower for light.