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July 10, 2024 8 mins

In this episode of STBYM’s The Monstrefact, Robert discusses the deadly alien pathogen Agent A0-3959X.91–15 from the “Alien” universe.

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Speaker 1 (00:03):
Welcome to Stuff to Blow Your Mind, a production of iHeartRadio.

Speaker 2 (00:10):
Hi, my name is Robert Lamman. This is The Monster Fact,
a short form series from Stuff to Blow Your Mind,
focusing on mythical creatures, ideas and monsters in time. In
the previous episode of The Monster Fact, we began our
alien series with a look at the mysterious Engineers. Today

(00:30):
we'll turn to this Elder race's most dangerous creation, a
highly volatile genetic accelerant classified by human researchers as Agent
A zero thirty nine fifty nine x point ninety one
dash fifteen. In its purest form, this so called black
goo does in fact resemble a viscous tar like material

(00:52):
or liquid. Human explorers first discovered the substance amid the
ruins of an engineer outpost on the planet designated LV
two twenty three. They found the gou and core TETs
of glass like vials secured in steatide ampules or urns.
The engineers had secured it there like a precious treasure,

(01:13):
like the remains of the dead, like a devastating bioweapon,
the pinnacle of the engineer's advanced biotechnology. We can even
think of Agent A zero thirty nine to fifty nine
x point ninety one slash fifteen as a kind of
biological AI that reprograms everything it touches, perhaps following specific instructions,

(01:34):
general directions, or left entirely to its own generative impulses.
As revealed in the film's Prometheus and Alien Covenant, and
as discussed in Freely Publishing's Alien RPG, the black Goo
aggressively recodes DNA, rapidly transforming individual organisms, species, and entire ecosystems.

(01:56):
When exposed to the atmosphere, it atomizes and spreads as
an aeros but may also be further manipulated in liquid
form if handled with proper expertise. High level exposure to
the substance generally spells instant death for organic beings. Select
engineers are thought to have ritualistically ingested the substance in
its pure concentrated liquid form to seed new worlds, allowing

(02:20):
the black Good to rapidly break down their bodies and
spin new life forms out of the genetic pieces. Likewise,
when weaponized, aerial bombardments of the steatide ampules quickly lay
waste to entire populations, finally twisting the life forms at
the peripheries of the attack into dangerous new creatures. At

(02:41):
lower exposure levels, the black Goose steadily mutates human beings
into zombie like forms known as abominations, noted for their
increasingly aggressive behavior, enhance strength, elongated limbs, and swelling craniums.
They are also able to pass on their rampage in
genetics through different infection routes, as will explore in the
next episode. It's impossible to know exactly how the engineers

(03:04):
regarded the black Goo, but we might best understand it,
like many forms of technology, as having tremendous potential to
destroy or create. It can enable the seating of whole
new worlds with the divergent genes of a single donor.
But it can also be a weapon of terrifying power,
wiping out most life on a world and reprogramming the
surviving biome into aggressive monstrosities that steadily grind all life

(03:28):
to its end. But let's set aside metaphors and interpretations
and consider a few additional takes on black goo. With
all of these extraterrestrial horrors now running through your brain,
you might find it a bit unnerving to realize that
here on Earth, outside of the sci fi horrors of
the alien franchise. We actually do have to contend with
strange black goo within the buried creations of ancient civilizations.

(03:52):
As Kate Fulcher reported for the British Museum back in
twenty twenty, the goo in question here would have been
poured warm into the caskets of mummified individuals, effectively cementing
their linen wrapped mummy cases into the encasing casket. Museum
scientists analyzed more than one hundred samples of the now
long dried gou and determined that while the exact ingredients varied,

(04:15):
the main components tended to be plant oil, animal fat,
tree resin, beeswax, and bitumen, a viscous or solid form
of petroleum. Egyptian black gou was reserved for royalty and
those rich enough to afford the very best in their
funerary preparations. We've even found the stuff on the golden
mask of Tutin Common. According to Fulcher, its pitch black

(04:38):
color was associated with mythic osiris and concepts of rebirth
and regeneration. It's clear that a certain amount of Egyptomania
went into conceptions of the engineers. It even goes all
the way back to artist hr Giger's late seventies concept
art for Alien, which includes a hieroglyphic inspired alien life

(05:00):
cy called Tableau. Look it up, and it makes sense
in later ruminations of the franchise that filmmakers might have
found inspiration in the real life black Goo of Egyptology.
It's rather fitting, after all, given that the ancient Egyptians
seemed to have viewed the journey into the next life
as something cosmic and transformative. There's sarcophagus in many ways

(05:22):
like a cryo chamber, and monstrous entities like Ahmet awaiting
the passage of the dead. Black Goo has, of course,
another larger life in sci fi in general, sometimes as
a catch all name for just black inky evil, or
other times more specifically as a self replicating meta material
graphene oxide. Jason Kahey profiled the notion in a twenty

(05:46):
twenty two article for Wired Magazine, drawing on sci fi
usages of the stuff on TV's Westworld and TV's Severance,
and if we go wider than that, he points out,
we see dangerous black goos in the original X File,
as well as in Miyazaki's Spirited Away. Elsewhere, we've watched
it drip onto Gary Olben's head in the Fifth Element

(06:06):
and Yes, the low budget nineteen eighty five alien knockoff
Creature features a scene in which the stuff leaks from
an alien tube shortly before a monster breaks out of it.
What is Marvel's venom but a slightly more stylish black goo,
and the Sorcerer egg Shin in Big Trouble and Little
China warned us, matter of factly, not of oil, but
of the black blood of the Earth. The examples are endless,

(06:30):
though they often betray a Western prevalence for the negative
connotations of the color black, which dates back through the
Middle Ages and into humoral theory with its black bile.
But black also represented power in secrecy during this time
period as well. Colors are in the end multipurpose, culturally
dependent and based on context. The color black may be

(06:52):
invoked to convey everything from darkness and mystery to beauty
and power, and when we combine all of that with gooiness, well,
visually there just seems to be something otherworldly about black goo,
and so it's the perfect visual manifestation of the underlying
power in the alien universe, a kind of anti blood

(07:13):
and anti seed. As dark as the spaces between the stars.
Tune in for additional episodes of the Monster Fact each week,
especially as we roll through the various creatures of the
alien Universe. More episodes of the Artifact and Animalias Stupendium
will return on Wednesdays after that. Thanks to the excellent

(07:34):
JJ Possway for producing this episode, and as always, you
can email us at contact at stuff to Blow your
Mind dot com.

Speaker 1 (07:50):
Stuff to Blow Your Mind is production of iHeartRadio. For
more podcasts from my Heart Radio, visit the iHeartRadio app,
Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to your favorite shows.

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