What’s What at Strange Shapes?

Hello, all. Has it been almost two years since my last post? I didn’t intend for that, and I assure you all that I haven’t been sitting back and relaxing all this time. So, what’s what at Strange Shapes? Are we defunct, on hiatus, etc?

No–in fact, I might be busier than ever with all things Alien. For the last two years my research and findings have gone exclusively into a document that, I hope, will finally manifest itself as Strange Shapes: The Making of Alien, a book exploring everything Alien (1979). There’s not a great deal I can say about it right now, except this: I have conducted interviews with the film’s crew wherever I could (that is, with whoever would talk to me), scoured libraries for books and the internet for articles and magazines, haggled with collectors and spent many a morning, noon and night typing and editing away. If I had to say anything about it now, it’s that the book, even in its current incomplete shape, blows the blog out of the water. No contest. So far, I have written 253 pages, 115,000+ words, and counting.

So on to the next issue here: when can you all read it? Alien’s 40th birthday would have been a great occasion to release it to you all, but I simply couldn’t finish it in time due to personal circumstances. For one, since 2016 I have been my daughter’s full-time carer, taking time away from my own extra-curricular activities (no real complaint from me, here). And then, some months ago, her disability allowance and my carer’s payments were erroneously stopped, forcing us to survive on my paltry savings and, with them now exhausted, I am somewhat on the wire. As I type, I have no internet at home, and may very well lose my house within the next couple of months if the situation does not improve. Which makes it very difficult to write!

And some will ask, how will I bring it to you? I had some discussions last year with publishers, but the dearth of new content from far more experienced writers than myself has thrown any chance at being published for a loop. So, for now, I cannot truly answer the question of how Strange Shapes will make its way to a bookshop.

Still, the work continues, and Strange Shapes (the book) continues to gain weight and heft. Some selected people have already read an extract containing some 75,000 words, and feedback is making its way back to me, all to make the book something better than it already is. Now, I know there is already a dearth of tomes out there promising to be the final, definitive or absolute word on Alien. So this needs to be something special to be worth your time. Something with all the elbow grease I can muster. Something that will make the best of nine years(!) of this blog. Or else, what’s the point? Well, without coming across as egotistical, I do think Strange Shapes will offer readers something unique, including information about Alien that has not been explored or touched upon anywhere else. Of course, that’s no good to anyone s’long as it sits here on my computer. So I will continue to work whenever (and however) I can to bring it closer to being in your hands.

In the meantime, please hold on a little longer. There is more coming, despite the silence on my end. Hopefully, this post will leave everyone a little more clued in to what’s happening. I’m not dead (though somewhat starved) and I’m certainly not done. Maybe in a year or two from this point I’ll be laughing at my former troubles and you will all be sitting down with a good tome to read.

And of course, this year will see the release of all sorts of Alien media: books, documentaries and retrospectives will be flooding the stores and internet this year, so the fanbase will not go hungry!

Until then…

~ Val.


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14 responses to “What’s What at Strange Shapes?

  1. Tom

    Fantastic to hear from you. Subscribed and lurked for many years, always found your articles fantastic and much more captivating than any other Alien related material on the web.

    I’m sorry to hear of your issues with the disability allowance etc – you’re in the UK aren’t you? If so, I know your pain and sympathise. I battled the DWP for years on behalf of a friend. The website benefitsandwork provide excellent guides to dealing with the DWP, if indeed you are in the UK and gave the knowledge needed to win tribunals and get the best outcome for my friend.

    Best wishes and hope to hear from you again soon – keep positive, sounds like you have a lot to look forward to!

    • That’s right, I’m up in snowy Scotland and contending with the Department of Work & Punishment. I’ve been talking to Welfare Rights and trying to get our allowances restored. So far, nothing. I have to wait another 4-6 weeks for a decision. But by mid-Feb the last of our money and income support will all be dried up, with no way to pay rent, electricity, food… Just Tory Britain in a nutshell, if you’re working class. Thank you for the kind words, and interest in my work.

      All my best!


      • Tom

        I’m sure you’ve probably gotten good advice and know by now how to deal with the DWP, but if you haven’t – and need any advice or feel like you’re getting nowhere with the Welfare Rights people (I never had much luck), feel free to email me on the email address I think you should be able to see? I’ve spent 7+ years holding the DWP to account and know their dirty tricks (and how to hold them to account legally). Been through all the stages of desperation and banging my head against the wall with them, I know how dreadful it makes life for everyone involved. If I can offer any assistance, just ask.

  2. racquel madrid

    hey man, you just focus on what you need to do to stay afloat! you come first!

  3. I’m Lucio, an Alien fan from Rome (Italy). Finding a new post in this wonderful blog is great but I’m very sorry to read about your troubles. Hope that all will be fixed soon and hold on with your private life: I wish you the best.
    This is a great year, with the 40th anniversary and many Alien initiatives: have a great Alien Year! ^_^

  4. Tim Boxell

    Good luck with your efforts. “Memory:Origins of Alien” had a strong opening night at Sundance. I think this will be the year of Alien and my role will be better known.

    Best wishes Tim Boxell Sent from my iPhone


  5. morse88

    All the best to you and your little one Valaquen! I’ve certainly missed your amazing output on this site, and can’t wait to read your tome. But take care of your family first and foremost. We’ll all be here patiently waiting

  6. Paul

    I didn’t think it was possible for me to dislike the Tories any more than I already did, but this has done it. The DWP are an absolute nightmare.

    Wishing you and your daughter all the best, I hope things take a turn for the better soon. Thank you for all your fantastic work over the years, and looking forward to seeing what comes next when the situation has improved. For now, just take care of yourself and don’t feel pressured to produce new work – there’s a goldmine here already that always merits re-reading.

  7. Marek

    I’ve been a fan of your blog since I stumbled onto it a couple of years back. I couldn’t believe my luck. Every entry is fascinating to me. So first of all, thank you. I am of course happy to hear that you’re working on a book. I wish there was a way to pre-order it. Have you considered Kickstarter or something similar? All the best,

  8. Antarctica Traffic Control

    Val, a pleasure to know you’re still out there doing this, and a displeasure to hear what you’ve been through.

    If there’s anything I can do, etc, always.

  9. BillTed

    I’m terribly sorry to her about your personal hurdles.
    Thats the VERY most important thing.

    Even if we never got to read (just theoretically),
    nothing is more important the family and home.

    I’m sure it will be as excellent as everything else you’ve ever written.
    But take care of yourself and your family before worrying about entertaining us.

    Prayers and best wishes.

  10. Hi there

    Gone but not forgotten… and so it’s nice to see you return to what you evidently love.

    For the record, I too have a disabled SEN older daughter, and can relate to your struggles to some degree, while I’m also in the early stages of litigation against those that exacerbated her now lifelong condition via a fool’s surgery.

    Oddly enough, tonight I sit down to enjoy the 40th Anniversary Alien UHD in all of its glory, and cannot stress enough how excited I am to see it, so your reappearance and news comes well received.

    I also self-publish my own books, so perhaps that might be a better way to reach market than getting fleeced and rejected by half-wit publishing houses (subjectively speaking), and so if you need any tips feel free to get in touch.

    Have a great weekend

  11. Brad McMillan

    Hi, I was a regular reader until the posts stopped. I almost forgot about your page until a google suggestion prompted my memory.
    Good to see you back and keep up the good work.
    If govt depts are insistant on making little girls and their dads homeless, call the media.
    Usually once the media gets involved the govt dept will finally become a person who will help you and not a faceless organisation of buck passers.
    They dont care until it hurts them not to.

  12. Brad McMillan

    Also….I enjoy Dennis Lowes interviews around our favorite subject (ALIEN & others). I am sure you have heard about this and seen it but in case you havnt: http://www.zen171398.zen.co.uk/Alien.html


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