Created by Matt Zoller Seitz
Directed by Judith Carter
“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.”
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The Alien films are perceived to be a fractured franchise, each one loosely related to the others. They are nonlinear, complicated, convoluted: a collection of genre movies ranging from horror to war to farce.
But on closer examination, the threads that bind together these films are strong and undeniable. The series is a model of Catherine Keller’s cosmology as a cycle of order out of chaos, an illustration of her concept of evil as discreation.
When viewed through the lens of Keller’s Face of the Deep, the Alien films resolve into a cohesive whole. The series becomes six views of the idea of evil-as-exploitation, its origins, and its consequences. Each film expands on the concept of evil set forth by its predecessors, complicating that conception, and retroactively enriching readings of the films that came before.
"Sarah Welch-Larson's Becoming Alien does something the cinematic series itself couldn't entirely manage: offer a cohesive thematic and aesthetic vision, in this case one rooted in a theologically provocative understanding of origins and evil. After reading Welch-Larson's book, you'll immediately want to watch all six Alien films again, appreciating the elements she perceived that you likely missed."
--Josh Larsen, author of Movies Are Prayers
"Few monsters are as iconic as the Alien, spawned from a franchise as changeable as its creature's various forms. In this provocative volume, Welch-Larson hugs a theological through line that, much like Ripley, enables her to find grace, hope, and possibility bursting from the films. Both of my jaws were on the floor."
--JR. Forasteros, author of Empathy for the Devil
"Alien fans remember the villain who calls that malevolent monster a 'perfect organism . . . unclouded by conscience or delusions of morality.' In Becoming Alien, we watch Sarah Welch-Larson achieve something like the opposite: Guided by conscience, she illuminates this shape-shifting series with moral vision. As she surgically studies an epic battle of good versus 'discreation, ' her insights flare like Ripley's flame-thrower. And you can tell it's personal. Let's call it 'perfect criticism.'"
--Jeffrey Overstreet, author of Through a Screen Darkly and Auralia's Colors
Sarah Welch-Larson writes about aesthetics of science fiction and character-driven narratives in film. She is interested in feminist theory and theology, and in stories about agency and creation, particularly regarding cyborgs and androids. She lives in Chicago with her husband, their dog, and about two dozen houseplants.
All copies are signed by author Sarah Welch-Larson.
MZS.Press is the online arts bookstore founded by author, critic, and filmmaker Matt Zoller Seitz and directed by Judith Carter. It offers new, used, signed, collectible, and rare books on film, TV, music, photography, and the visual arts. The store was launched in 2019 on a different platform and has expanded to incorporate arts books published by MZSPress's private imprint: titles currently include Seitz's The Deadwood Bible: A Lie Agreed Upon and Dreams of Deadwood, about the HBO Western, and Walter Chaw's A Walter Hill Film.
Our deepest wish is to promote, encourage, and distribute work by small presses, academic presses, and individuals. Extraordinary work tends to get swallowed up on giant platforms like Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The store's inventory of nearly 1000 volumes is currently in the process of being reconstructed after its relocation from Cincinnati, Ohio, to Dallas, Texas. The titles featured here are personally selected by a group of curators and advisors, including Seitz, Carter, and an array of critics, artists, journalists, educators, publishers, and arts mavens who are known for their ability to suss out what Seitz's jazz musician dad liked to call "the good sh*t."
“Please. Have mercy. I’ve been wearing the same underwear since Tuesday.”
Matt Zoller Seitz
Critic, Author, Filmmaker, MZS Press Creator
Matt Zoller Seitz is the Editor at Large and film critic of RogerEbert.com; a staff writer for New York Magazine and Vulture.com, and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in criticism. His writing on film and TV has appeared in Sight and Sound, The New York Times, Salon.com, The New Republic and Rolling Stone. Seitz is the founder and original editor of the influential film blog The House Next Door, now a part of Slant Magazine.
Seitz has written, narrated, edited or produced over a hundred hours’ worth of video essays about cinema history and style for The Museum of the Moving Image, Salon.com and Vulture, among other outlets. His five-part 2009 video essay Wes Anderson: The Substance of Style was spun off into the hardcover book The Wes Anderson Collection. This book and its follow-up, The Wes Anderson Collection: Grand Budapest Hotel were New York Times bestsellers.
Other Seitz books include the New York Times bestellers The Sopranos Sessions and Mad Men Carousel; TV (The Book), The Deadwood Bible: A Lie Agreed Upon, and the forthcoming The Wes Anderson Collection: The French Dispatch. He is also an interviewer, moderator, and film programmer who has curated and hosted film and TV presentations for the Museum of the Moving Image, IFC Center, San Francisco's Roxie Cinema, and other venues. He is currently working on a memoir about his marriages and a feature-length documentary about his father, jazz musician and composer Dave Zoller.
His hobbies include exotic dancing, moonwalking, and affixing masking tape labels to every food item in the refrigerator, including eggs. He has the attention span of a gnat.