Oct 13, 2022 - Science

Vasquez from "Aliens" gets her own story

A cover of the novel "Aliens: Vasquez" along with author Violet Castro.

Violet Castro, author of "Aliens: Vasquez." Photo: Courtesy of Titan Books/Castro.

Pvt. Vasquez, the fictional Latina member of the U.S. Colonial Marine Corps in the 1986 hit sci-fi movie "Aliens," is getting a backstory in a new novel.

The big picture: The November U.S. release of "Aliens: Vasquez" by Violet Castro comes as writers and artists of color increasingly reimagine minor characters of color from popular sci-fi films.

Background: Castro, a Mexican American writer from San Antonio, Texas, who now lives in London, told Axios she pitched the idea for the book a few months ago after thinking about the big influence the character had in such a small role.

  • "It was one of the few depictions that kind of broke the mold of a domestic worker, farm worker, or gangbanger," Castro said.
  • "I saw her and I was like, wow, look at this brown woman. She has this bandana and she's unapologetic about who she is."

Yes, but: Little is revealed in the James Cameron film about Vasquez's life other than that she is a former gang member and may have been undocumented in the U.S. back on Earth.

  • The character is not played by a Latina actor.

The intrigue: Castro said that, for her book, she reimagined Vasquez as someone linked to the soldaderas — the women who took up arms during the Mexican Revolution.

  • In the book, Vasquez uses Santa Muerte, the folk saint of death, for survival.
  • Her family's military background inspires her to travel to space, Castro said, although she declined to give more details.

Zoom out: Castro, author of "The Queen of the Cicadas," is part of a growing number of Latina writers who are turning to horror and science fiction to critique the past around sexism and racism.

  • Writers like Argentines Samanta Schweblin and Mariana Enríquez, Mexican Fernanda Melchor, and Chilean Lina Meruane have made international waves with books that comment on quotidian violence through horror.
Go deeper