I recently reread the novel 2010 Odyssey Two by Arthur C Clarke for the first time since my teens (20 plus years if you are interested) and noticed this passage

"Max" he said, in a tone of deadly seriousness, "whatever happens - please don't go chasing off after the ship's cat".

For a few milliseconds, Brailovsky was thrown off guard; he almost answered: "I do wish you hadn't said that Walter" but checked himself in time. That would have been too damning an admission to weakness; instead he replied "I'd like to meet the idiot who put that movie in our library".

"Katerina probably did it, to test everyone's psychological balance. Anyway, you laughed your head off when we screened it last week".

Brailovsky was silent; Curnow's remark was perfectly true. But that had been back in the familiar warmth and light of Leonov, among friends - not in a pitch-black freezing derelict, haunted by ghosts. No matter how rational one was, it was all too easy to imagine some implacable alien beast prowling these corridors, seeking whom it might devour.

The mention of a derelict, dark corridors, searching for a cat and of course an implacable alien all point fairly directly to this being about Ridley Scott's Alien. The book was published in 1982, long after the film had wormed its way into public consciousness so again it seems likely, but I am curious if Clarke ever commented on this and confirmed this was his reference. There cannot be too many other films that would fit this description.


1 Answer 1


It definitely is a reference to Alien. It is self-explanatory and I know that Arthur C. Clarke knew Sigourney Weaver somehow, or somebody related to her because in one of his books, he referred to her as talented young lady, or similar, while mentioning this movie. And he, of course, knew the whole plot was wildly implausible, because if anything came from another world and tried to feed on Earth life, it would most likely perish of biochemical incompatibilities. He mentions this in 2061 Odyssey 3 in reference to Europan life.

In Arthur C. Clarke's Astounding Days book there is this passage:

In my opinion, however, Van Vogt is the rightful holder of the "Alien"* patent, with a string of stories in which spaceships are threatened by monsters of ever-increasing nastiness and capability."

* I have just realized that I must have known the durable Ms. Ripley as a very young girl: in the 1950s, when he was head of NBC, I frequently visited Sylvester "Pat" Weaver's apartment on the Upper East Side. Little did any of us guess at Sigourney's future contributions to interstellar friendship.

The book was published in 1989; can be borrowed at openlibrary.org

  • Thank you. It seem far to exact to be anything else but nice to have some consensus on the matter. I had no idea he had actually met Sigourney Weaver. Nice find.
    – skyjack
    Jul 8, 2019 at 9:27
  • A. E. van Vogt's The Voyage of the Space Beagle, especially "Discord in Scarlet," was indeed a major influence on Alien.
    – Buzz
    Jul 8, 2019 at 14:12

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.