Alien invasion

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The alien invasion from Mars in H. G. Wells' The War of the Worlds, as illustrated by Henrique Alvim Correa. War-of-the-worlds-tripod.jpg
The alien invasion from Mars in H. G. Wells' The War of the Worlds , as illustrated by Henrique Alvim Corrêa.

The alien invasion or space invasion is a common feature in science fiction stories and film, in which extraterrestrials invade the Earth either to exterminate and supplant human life, enslave it under an intense state, harvest people for food, steal the planet's resources, or destroy the planet altogether.

Science fiction Genre of speculative fiction

Science fiction is a genre of speculative fiction that has been called the "literature of ideas". It typically deals with imaginative and futuristic concepts such as advanced science and technology, time travel, parallel universes, fictional worlds, space exploration, and extraterrestrial life. It often explores the potential consequences of scientific innovations.

Science fiction film Film genre

Science fiction film is a genre that uses speculative, fictional science-based depictions of phenomena that are not fully accepted by mainstream science, such as extraterrestrial lifeforms, alien worlds, extrasensory perception and time travel, along with futuristic elements such as spacecraft, robots, cyborgs, interstellar travel or other technologies. Science fiction films have often been used to focus on political or social issues, and to explore philosophical issues like the human condition. In many cases, tropes derived from written science fiction may be used by filmmakers ignorant of or at best indifferent to the standards of scientific plausibility and plot logic to which written science fiction is traditionally held.

Extraterrestrials in fiction Fictional depictions of extraterrestrial life

An extraterrestrial or alien is any extraterrestrial lifeform; a lifeform that did not originate on Earth. The word extraterrestrial means "outside Earth". The first published use of extraterrestrial as a noun occurred in 1956, during the Golden Age of Science Fiction.

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The invasion scenario has been used as an allegory for a protest against military hegemony and the societal ills of the time. H. G. Wells' novel The War of the Worlds extended the invasion literature that was already common when science fiction was first emerging as a genre.

Allegory Literary device

As a literary device, an allegory is a metaphor in which a character, place or event is used to deliver a broader message about real-world issues and occurrences. Allegory has occurred widely throughout history in all forms of art, largely because it can readily illustrate or convey complex ideas and concepts in ways that are comprehensible or striking to its viewers, readers, or listeners.

Hegemony political, economic, or military predominance or control of one state over others

Hegemony is the political, economic, or military predominance or control of one state over others. In ancient Greece, hegemony denoted the politico-military dominance of a city-state over other city-states. The dominant state is known as the hegemon.

H. G. Wells English author

Herbert George Wells was an English writer. He was prolific in many genres, writing dozens of novels, short stories, and works of social commentary, history, satire, biography, and autobiography, and even including two books on recreational war games. He is now best remembered for his science fiction novels and is often called the "father of science fiction", along with Jules Verne and Hugo Gernsback.

Prospects of invasion tended to vary with the state of current affairs, and current perceptions of threat. Alien invasion was a common metaphor in United States science fiction during the Cold War, illustrating the fears of foreign (e.g. Soviet Union) occupation and nuclear devastation of the American people. Examples of these stories include the short story “The Liberation of Earth“ (1950) by William Tenn and the film The Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956).

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe, which is 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the most populous city is New York City. Most of the country is located contiguously in North America between Canada and Mexico.

Cold War Geopolitical tension after World War II between the Eastern and Western Bloc

The Cold War was a period of geopolitical tension between the Soviet Union with its satellite states, and the United States with its allies after World War II. The historiography of the conflict began between 1946 and 1947. The Cold War began to de-escalate after the Revolutions of 1989. The collapse of the USSR in 1991 was the end of the Cold War. The term "cold" is used because there was no large-scale fighting directly between the two sides, but they each supported major regional conflicts known as proxy wars. The conflict split the temporary wartime alliance against Nazi Germany and its allies, leaving the USSR and the US as two superpowers with profound economic and political differences.

Soviet Union 1922–1991 country in Europe and Asia

The Soviet Union, officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), was a Marxist-Leninist sovereign state in Eurasia that existed from 1922 to 1991. Nominally a union of multiple national Soviet republics, its government and economy were highly centralized. The country was a one-party state, governed by the Communist Party with Moscow as its capital in its largest republic, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. Other major urban centers were Leningrad, Kiev, Minsk, Tashkent, Alma-Ata, and Novosibirsk. It spanned over 10,000 kilometers (6,200 mi) east to west across 11 time zones, and over 7,200 kilometers (4,500 mi) north to south. It had five climate zones: tundra, taiga, steppes, desert and mountains.

In the invasion trope, fictional aliens contacting Earth tend to either observe (sometimes using experiments) or invade, rather than help the population of Earth acquire the capacity to participate in interplanetary affairs. There are some notable exceptions, such as the alien-initiated first-contact scenarios in The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), Star Trek: First Contact (1996) and Arrival (2016). A trope of the peaceful first-contact is humanity attaining a key technological threshold (e.g. nuclear weapons and space travel in The Day the Earth Stood Still or faster-than-light travel in First Contact), justifying their initiation into a broader community of intelligent species.

<i>The Day the Earth Stood Still</i> 1951 US science fiction film directed by Robert Wise

The Day the Earth Stood Still is a 1951 American black-and-white science fiction film from 20th Century Fox, produced by Julian Blaustein and directed by Robert Wise. The film stars Michael Rennie, Patricia Neal, Billy Gray, Hugh Marlowe, and Sam Jaffe. The screenplay was written by Edmund H. North, based on the 1940 science fiction short story "Farewell to the Master" by Harry Bates, and the film score was composed by Bernard Herrmann.

<i>Star Trek: First Contact</i> 1996 American film by Jonathan Frakes

Star Trek: First Contact is a 1996 American science fiction film directed by Jonathan Frakes and based on the franchise Star Trek. It is the eighth film in the Star Trek film series, as well as the second to star the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation. In the film, the crew of the USS Enterprise-E travel back in time from the 24th century to the mid 21st-century in order to stop the cybernetic Borg from conquering Earth by changing their past.

<i>Arrival</i> (film) 2016 American science fiction drama film directed by Denis Villeneuve

Arrival is a 2016 American science fiction film directed by Denis Villeneuve and written by Eric Heisserer. It is based on the 1998 short story "Story of Your Life" by Ted Chiang and stars Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and Forest Whitaker. The film follows a linguist enlisted by the U.S. Army to discover how to communicate with aliens who have arrived on Earth, before tensions lead to war.

Technically, a human invasion of an alien species is also an alien invasion, as from the viewpoint of the aliens, humans are the aliens. Such stories are much rarer than stories about aliens attacking humans. Examples include the short story Sentry (1954) (in which the "aliens" described are, at the end, explained to be humans), the video game Phantasy Star II (1989), [1] The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury, the Imperium of Man in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, Invaders from Earth by Robert Silverberg, the movies Battle for Terra (2007), Planet 51 (2009), Avatar (2009) and Mars Needs Moms (2011).

<i>Phantasy Star II</i> video game

Phantasy Star II is a role-playing video game developed and published by Sega for the Sega Genesis. It was released in Japan and North America in 1989, and in Europe in 1990. It was later ported to a variety of different platforms. An updated remake, Phantasy Star Generation 2, was released for the PlayStation 2 in 2005 in Japan.

<i>The Martian Chronicles</i> novel by Ray Bradbury

The Martian Chronicles is a 1950 science fiction short story fixup by Ray Bradbury that chronicles the colonization of Mars by humans fleeing from a troubled and eventually atomically devastated Earth, and the conflict between aboriginal Martians and the new colonists. The book lies somewhere in between a short story collection and an episodic novel, containing stories Bradbury originally published in the late 1940s in science fiction magazines. The stories were loosely woven together with a series of short, interstitial vignettes for publication.

<i>Warhammer 40,000</i> Miniature wargame

Warhammer 40,000 is a miniature wargame produced by Games Workshop. The first edition of the rulebook was published in October 1987. The latest edition is the eighth, which was published in June 2017.

As well as being a subgenre of science fiction, these kinds of books can be considered a subgenre of invasion literature, which also includes fictional depictions of humans invaded by other humans (for example, a fictional invasion of England by a hostile France strongly influenced Wells' depiction of a Martian invasion).

Invasion literature literary genre

Invasion literature is a literary genre that was popular in the period between 1871 and the First World War (1914–1918). The invasion novel first was recognized as a literary genre in the UK, with the novella The Battle of Dorking: Reminiscences of a Volunteer (1871), an account of a German invasion of England, which, in the Western world, aroused the national imaginations and anxieties about hypothetical invasions by foreign powers; by 1914 the genre of invasion literature comprised more than 400 novels and stories.

Origins

Martian war machines destroying an English town in H. G. Wells' The War of the Worlds The War of the Worlds by Henrique Alvim Correa 08 b&w.jpg
Martian war machines destroying an English town in H. G. Wells' The War of the Worlds

In 1898, H. G. Wells published The War of the Worlds , depicting the invasion of Victorian England by Martians equipped with advanced weaponry. It is now seen as the seminal alien invasion story and Wells is credited with establishing several extraterrestrial themes which were later greatly expanded by science fiction writers in the 20th Century, including first contact and war between planets and their differing species. However, there were stories of aliens and alien invasion prior to publication of The War of the Worlds. [2]

Voltaire's Micromégas (1752) includes two aliens, from Saturn and Sirius, who are of immense size and visit the Earth out of curiosity. Initially, they believe the planet is uninhabited, due to the difference in scale between them and human beings. When they discover the haughty Earth-centric views of Earth philosophers, they are very much amused by how important Earth beings think they are compared to actual titans such as themselves. [3]

In 1892, Robert Potter, an Australian clergyman, published The Germ Growers in London. It describes a covert invasion by aliens who take on the appearance of human beings and attempt to develop a virulent disease to assist in their plans for global conquest. It was not widely read, and consequently Wells' vastly more successful novel is generally credited as the seminal alien invasion story. [2]

Wells had already proposed another outcome for the alien invasion story in The War of the Worlds. When the Narrator meets the artilleryman the second time, the artilleryman imagines a future where humanity, hiding underground in sewers and tunnels, conducts a guerrilla war, fighting against the Martians for generations to come, and eventually, after learning how to duplicate Martian weapon technology, destroys the invaders and takes back the Earth. [4]

Six weeks after publication of the novel, The Boston Post newspaper published another alien invasion story, an unauthorized sequel to The War of the Worlds, which turned the tables on the invaders. Edison's Conquest of Mars was written by Garrett P. Serviss, a now little-remembered writer, who described the famous inventor Thomas Edison leading a counterattack against the invaders on their home soil. [5] Though this is actually a sequel to Fighters from Mars, a revised and unauthorised reprint of War of the Worlds, they both were first printed in the Boston Post in 1898. [6]

The War of the Worlds was reprinted in the United States in 1927, a year after the Golden Age of Science Fiction was created by Hugo Gernsback in Amazing Stories . John W. Campbell, another key editor of the era, and periodic short story writer, published several alien invasion stories in the 1930s. Many well-known science fiction writers were to follow, including Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Clifford Simak, plus Robert A. Heinlein who wrote The Puppet Masters in 1953. [7]

Fictional variations

Alien infiltration

This is a familiar variation on the alien invasion theme. In the infiltration scenario, the invaders will typically take human form and can move freely throughout human society, even to the point of taking control of command positions. The purpose of this may either be to take over the entire world through infiltration (Invasion of the Body Snatchers), or as advanced scouts meant to "soften up" Earth in preparation for a full-scale invasion by the aliens' conventional military ( First Wave ). This type of invasion usually emphasizes common fears during the Cold War, [8] with the Communist agents suspected everywhere, but has also become common during any time of social change and unrest.[ citation needed ]

Beneficial alien invasion

In Henry Slesar's 1958 story The Delegate from Venus, an alien robot cautions Earth that it will be destroyed if its people do not learn to live in peace Amazing science fiction stories 195810.jpg
In Henry Slesar's 1958 story The Delegate from Venus, an alien robot cautions Earth that it will be destroyed if its people do not learn to live in peace

This theme has also been explored in fiction on the rare occasion. With this type of story, the invaders, in a kind of little grey/green man's burden, colonize the planet in an effort to spread their culture and "civilize" the indigenous "barbaric" inhabitants or secretly watch and aid earthlings saving them from themselves. The former theme shares many traits with hostile occupation fiction, but the invaders tend to view the occupied peoples as students or equals rather than subjects and slaves. The latter theme of secret watcher is a paternalistic/maternalistic theme. In this fiction, the aliens intervene in human affairs to prevent them from destroying themselves, such as Klaatu and Gort in The Day the Earth Stood Still warning the leaders of Earth to abandon their warlike ways and join other space-faring civilizations else that they will destroy themselves or be destroyed by their interstellar union. Other examples of a beneficial alien invasion are Gene Roddenberry's movie The Questor Tapes (1974) and his Star Trek episode "Assignment: Earth" (1968); Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End , [9] the novel (later anime) series Crest of the Stars , the film Arrival (2016), and David Brin's Uplift series of books.

Other examples

The cult film They Live (1988) uses its own alien infiltration back story as a satire on Ronald Reagan's America and the 1980s as an era of conspicuous consumption, in which the hidden aliens and human members of the elite oppress poverty-stricken humans and a shrinking middle class.

The beginning half of the popular video games Halo 2 and Halo 3 deals with the defense of Earth against a genocidal alien empire, the Covenant. The protagonist of the game along with Earth's military force, the UNSC , and a group of former Covenant who rebelled, the Covenant Separatists, eventually repel the invasion and topple the Covenant.

The Mass Effect franchise features a race of massive semi-organic sentient starships called Reapers who destroy any civilization advanced enough to devise artificial intelligence, based on the perceived inevitability of it rebelling.

In Orson Scott Card's series Ender's Game, an insectoid race of hiveminded aliens known as the Formics invade Earth on two different occasions, known as the First and Second Formic Wars. The first invasion resulted in very few casualties, but the second resulted in tens of millions of deaths. After this second invasion, the conglomerate of nations known as the International Fleet decided to launch their own invasion that would completely devastate the Formic home planet. [10]

See also

Related Research Articles

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<i>H. G. Wells War of the Worlds</i> (The Asylum film) 2005 film by David Michael Latt, produced by The Asylum

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Martian (<i>The War of the Worlds</i>) aliens from War of the Worlds

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<i>The War of the Worlds</i> novel by H. G. Wells

The War of the Worlds is a science fiction novel by English author H. G. Wells, first serialized in 1897 by Pearson's Magazine in the UK and by Cosmopolitan magazine in the US. The novel's first appearance in hardcover was in 1898 from publisher William Heinemann of London. Written between 1895 and 1897, it is one of the earliest stories to detail a conflict between mankind and an extraterrestrial race. The novel is the first-person narrative of both an unnamed protagonist in Surrey and of his younger brother in London as southern England is invaded by Martians. The novel is one of the most commented-on works in the science fiction canon.

<i>The Man Who Loved Mars</i> book by Lin Carter

The Man Who Loved Mars is a science fantasy novel by American writer Lin Carter, the first in his Edgar Rice Burroughs- and Leigh Brackett-inspired series The Mysteries of Mars. It was first published in paperback by Fawcett Gold Medal in March 1973. The first British edition was published in hardcover by White Lion in August of the same year. It was reissued by Wildside Press in December 1999. The novel has also been translated into German.

References

  1. Kasavin, Greg (July 15, 2005). "The Greatest Games of All Time: Phantasy Star II". GameSpot . Retrieved 2010-09-13.
  2. 1 2 Flynn, John L. (2005). War of the Worlds: From Wells to Spielberg. Galactic Books. pp. 18–19. ISBN   0-9769400-0-0.
  3. Guthke, Karl S. (1990). The Last Frontier: Imagining Other Worlds from the Copernican Revolution to Modern Fiction. Translated by Helen Atkins. Cornell University Press. pp. 301-304. ISBN   0-8014-1680-9.
  4. Batchelor, John (1985). H.G. Wells. Cambridge University Press. p. 28. ISBN   0-521-27804-X.
  5. Gerrold, David (2005). Glenn Yeffeth (ed.). "War of the Worlds". War of the Worlds: fresh perspectives on the H.G. Wells classic. BenBalla: 202–205. ISBN   978-1-932100-55-6.
  6. Edison’s Conquest of Mars, "Foreword" by Robert Godwin, Apogee Books 2005
  7. Urbanski, Heather (2007). Plagues, Apocalypses and Bug-Eyed Monsters. McFarland. pp. 156–8. ISBN   0-7864-2916-X.
  8. Peter, Lev (2006-11-06). Transforming the screen, 1950-1959. History of the American cinema. 7. University of California Press. p. 177. ISBN   0-520-24966-6. Invasion films were common in the 1950s featuring a variety of aliens portrayed as superior to earthlings both in intelligence and technology. In these films, aliens represent what some Americans feared about the Soviets. Invaders, friends or enemies, and often with the help of robots, either come to warn earthlings or destroy them with superior technology. Sometimes, the invaders use the strategy of infiltration, taking over the minds of the people, making slaves of them or appropriating their bodies, thus making war unnecessary. In some instances, the aliens already had a similar appearance - in Star Trek, while officially made contact with Humanity in 2063, (and were not "invaders" - some were shipwreck survivors, others time-travelers, accompanied by at least one Human, from a future where their respective worlds were allies) no fewer than six Vulcans had spent some time on Earth, passing as Human simply by using hair or skullcaps to conceal their pointed ears.
  9. Parrinder, Patrick (2001). "Estranged Invaders: The War of the Worlds". Learning from Other Worlds: Estrangement, Cognition, and the Politics of Science Fiction. Duke University Press. p. 143. ISBN   0-8223-2773-2.
  10. "Ender's Game". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 2013-11-03.