Alien invasion

Last updated
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.

Contents

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.

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).

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.

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, Ender's Game, the movies Battle for Terra (2007), Planet 51 (2009), Avatar (2009) and Mars Needs Moms (2011).

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).

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 tens of millions of deaths, but the second resulted in very few casualties. 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

Mars in fiction Depictions of Mars in fictional stories

Fictional representations of Mars have been popular for over a century. Interest in Mars has been stimulated by the planet's dramatic red color, by early scientific speculations that its surface conditions might be capable of supporting life, and by the possibility that Mars could be colonized by humans in the future. Almost as popular as stories about Mars are stories about Martians engaging in activity away from their home planet.

Martian extraterrestrial

A Martian is a native inhabitant of the planet Mars. Although the search for evidence of life on Mars continues, many science fiction writers have imagined what extraterrestrial life on Mars might be like. Some writers also use the word Martian to describe a human colonist on Mars.

Earth in science fiction status of the Earth in fictional stories

An overwhelming majority of fiction is set on or features the Earth. However, authors of speculative fiction novels and writers and directors of science fiction film deal with Earth quite differently from authors of conventional fiction. Unbound from the same ties that bind authors of traditional fiction to the Earth, they can either completely ignore the Earth or use it as but one of many settings in a more complicated universe, exploring a number of common themes through examining outsiders' perceptions of and interactions with Earth.

Mysteron

The Mysterons are a fictional race of extraterrestrials and the antagonists in the 1960s British Supermarionation science-fiction television series Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons (1967–68), and its 2005 computer-animated remake, Gerry Anderson's New Captain Scarlet.

Xenoarchaeology, a branch of xenology dealing with extraterrestrial cultures, is a hypothetical form of archaeology that exists mainly in works of science fiction. The field is concerned with the study of material remains to reconstruct and interpret past life-ways of alien civilizations. Xenoarchaeology is not currently practiced by mainstream archaeologists due to the current lack of any material for the discipline to study.

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.

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

H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds, also known as Invasion and H. G. Wells' The Worlds in War internationally, or simply as War of the Worlds, is a direct-to-DVD science fiction war film produced by The Asylum and directed by David Michael Latt. It is a loose adaptation of the H. G. Wells novel The War of the Worlds, and a mockbuster of the DreamWorks/Paramount film based on the same source.

First contact (science fiction) Science fiction theme about the first meeting between humans and extraterrestrial life

First contact is a common science fiction theme about the first meeting between humans and extraterrestrial life, or of any sentient race's first encounter with another one, given they are from different planets or natural satellites.

UFOs in fiction Wikimedia list article

Many works of fiction have featured UFOs. In most cases, as the fictional story progresses, the Earth is being invaded by hostile alien forces from outer space, usually from Mars, as depicted in early science fiction, or the people are being destroyed by alien forces, as depicted in the film Independence Day. Some fictional UFO encounters may be based on real UFO reports, such as Night Skies. Night Skies is based on the 1997 Phoenix UFO Incident.

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

The Martians, also known as the Invaders, are the fictional race of extraterrestrials from the H.G. Wells novel The War of the Worlds. They are the main antagonists of the novel, and their efforts to exterminate the populace of England and claim the planet for themselves drive the plot and present challenges for the novel's human characters. They are notable for their use of extraterrestrial weaponry far in advance of that of mankind at the time of the invasion.

<i>Edisons Conquest of Mars</i> book by Garrett P. Serviss

Edison's Conquest of Mars is an 1898 science fiction novel by American astronomer and writer Garrett P. Serviss. It was written as a sequel to Fighters from Mars, an unauthorized and heavily altered version of H. G. Wells's The War of the Worlds. It has a place in the history of science fiction for its early employment of themes and motifs that later became staples of the genre.

Mars has two moons, Phobos and Deimos. Due to their small size, both moons were discovered only in 1877, by astronomer Asaph Hall. Nevertheless, they frequently feature in works of science fiction.

<i>War of the Worlds 2: The Next Wave</i> 2008 film by C. Thomas Howell

War of the Worlds 2: The Next Wave is a 2008 direct-to-DVD science fiction film directed by and starring C. Thomas Howell. The film was produced and distributed independently by The Asylum.

Ancient astronauts have been addressed frequently in science fiction and horror fiction. Occurrences in the genres include:

Mars in culture

Mars in culture is about the planet Mars in culture. For example, the planet Mars is named after the Roman god of war Mars. In Babylonian astronomy, the planet was named after Nergal, their deity of fire, war, and destruction, most likely due to the planet's reddish appearance. Whether the Greeks equated Nergal with their god of war, Ares, or whether both drew from a more ancient association is unclear. In the age of Plato, the Greeks called the planet Ἄρεως ἀστἡρ, or "star of Ares". Following the identification of Ares and Mars, it was translated into Latin as stella Martis, or "star of Mars", or simply Mars. The Hellenistic Greeks also called the planet Πυρόεις Pyroeis, meaning "fiery".

<i>The War of the Worlds</i> 1898 novel by H. G. Wells

The War of the Worlds is a science fiction novel by English author H. G. Wells, first serialised 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.

<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.

Sardath is a science fiction character appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. Created by editor Julius Schwartz and Murphy Anderson, he first appeared in Showcase #17.

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.