1.08.2012

Superman is an Alien: When Aliens and Their Invasions Aren’t Really ‘Aliens’ or ‘Invasions’


By on 10:54 PM



We all know that Superman is a alien. He’s practically unstoppable (unless you happen to be the right sort of alien organism, a mythical being, or Batman), he’s the son of a guy who – depending on your source – has relative degrees of ‘overlord’ in his messages to Kal-El about improving the world and he is not opposed to using his superpowers against humans. Then there’s the Martian Manhunter, a lone survivor of an alien invasion himself, and Darkseid, who really seems to be the most likely candidate for aggressively invading Earth; luckily, he is usually content shooting his omega beams around and mind-fucking Superman. I don’t even want to start on what Granny Goodness is.

But it’s not just superheroes and the complementing villains that slip under the ‘oh, my god – these are aliens’ radar. In Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, we are certainly aware that Aunt Beast and her fellow fuzzy tree people are aliens. The trio of Mrs.s occasionally ping off of our alien filter, too, but since they’re usually described as stars or shape-changing aliens, they’re not alien aliens. But the Medium? The people on that anal-retentive planet? The man with the glowing red eyes and that creepy-as-fuck brain?

Aliens.

There are even roving bands of atmospheric, corruptive aliens that make people evil.

But aliens and their invasions aren’t the central issue in the novel, despite the fact that the dark cloud is clearly invading and Margaret’s dad was fighting that off before being imprisoned. Bizarre science, free will, love and coming-of-age are the matters at hand. So, for an alien invasion novel to be an alien invasion novel, certain things appear to be necessary besides the seemingly sufficient requirement of aliens invading.

  1. The invasion must be the main problem. Or at least the source of the main problem. That last clause allows for more than just a War of the Worlds scenario. The conflicts that could be at hand aren’t simply the ‘fight off the alien hordes’ variety, but post-apocalyptic survival, rebuilding the world, and maybe even cloning their technology and launching a counter0attack. Or, more optimistically and pre-invasion, trying to communicate with aliens and organizing diplomatic/political efforts.

  1. Aliens taking over the world must actually be a problem, a conflict. There are not too many examples of this, because there is no plot possible aliens encounter no struggles taking over the world. This sort of scenario would occur if there was absolutely no way to fight back – imagine the first few chapters of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, just without Ford or Arthur or any sort of explanation at all. While I’m sure the whole thing was problematic to the billions of humans (let alone the other species), it’s not a problem. It’s an event. There’s no build-up, struggle, or even much in the way of a response: the end of the world just happens. Another example would be if we all accept the aliens as our masters without a hitch. Considering we can’t even accept ourselves as equals, this is a bit outside the realm of possibility. Even if this were practically possible, and it’s fairly emphatically not, it could never be a focus of a story. It’s brogan. We all like our stories full of conflict (a singularly crucial element of a plotline), and most readers like a healthy chuck of tension rather more than to have heroes be blessed-out or accepting doormats. Acceptance and pacifist surrender does not gritty alien invasion literature make.

  1. Humans have to have a shot. This is vaguely related to the point above, particularly with regards to the Vogon example. If humans are simply crushed or left with nothing to fight for, we the readers have got nothing. I’m not saying that people should have a shot at success: chances are that we won’t. But a chance at some scant survival, event he delusional belief in such a chance, makes characters act, have a plan, or otherwise entertain us.

Sadly, aliens invading aren’t enough in the genre-busting literary world. The alien invasions have to be important, but still unrealistic enough for us to maybe, in some small way, survive.

And by survive I don’t mean have caped aliens or star-centaur witch angels fighting on our behalf. That’s not quite it, either.

Rachel is the co-founder of How To Survive Alien Invasion Novels, and spends her time writing, studying, and reading what would probably considered far too many books. Connect with her and Rusty on Twitter and Facebook, and click here to read more of her articles about alien theories and how to survive alien invasion novels.

About Syed Faizan Ali

Faizan is a 17 year old young guy who is blessed with the art of Blogging,He love to Blog day in and day out,He is a Website Designer and a Certified Graphics Designer.

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